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We truly do live in interesting times


If there are 100 nonillion potential people, there is nothing that could happen in your lifetime that could possibly matter compared to ensuring the continued survival of humanity. All resources should be diverted to preventing existential risk, even if we really don't know whether these risks are real or these efforts are effective, because the value at stake is simply too large.

If true, so much the worse for other causes. But I don't think it's true, longtermism can also imply that we should focus on expanding civilization more quickly or putting humanity on a better trajectory of political development. And if directly working on x-risks is ineffective then indirect steps like creating a more thoughtful and tolerant culture could be the most effective way to reduce x-risk.

But if we introduce the concept of marginal existence, we can make the question of potential future people and longtermism more workable. In other words, we need to be more specific about our conditions. For example, there will almost certainly be another generation after me. Therefore, it is sensible (necessary, even) to condition on the existence of that generation, at which point they are no longer marginal. Conditional on the existence of that generation, it is a moral good to improve their well-being. There will almost certainly be another generation after that, and many more after that. As long as we agree to condition on their existence, we probably agree that it is morally important to improve their well-being, by working on climate change, preventing AI risk, etc.

Well sure? It sounds like you're stating the obvious. Like, of course long term impacts won't happen if future generations don't exist, I thought that wouldn't need to be stated. 


Even without world government, other governments can punish those which make threats (economically, politically etc.) to the point of making threats a bad deal for those that make them. 

Sure, if all the governments around the world agree to punish all other countries which make threats. But the governments around the world have not agreed to do this, nor will they. For example, China routinely threatens Taiwan and never gets punished for it at all. North Korea does not get punished for threatening South Korea. Serbia does not get punished for threatening Kosovo. Azerbaijan does not get punished for threatening Armenia. America did not get punished for threatening Iraq and Afghanistan after 9/11. Iran does not get punished for threatening just about everybody. And so on.

And not dishing out such punishment (i.e. letting things slide for Putin) will only make threats more common.

No different from not punishing Ukraine for threatening to invade Crimea. In every war there are two sides making threats. When you try to stop a practice by doing more of it, your effort is quixotic. Better to focus on making the world better here and now - end the current wars, and draw up peace deals that satisfy the people currently alive. Do that enough and you'll see the world get meaningfully closer to world peace.

Ukraine is not making any threats, it's the same case as with a person who got robbed and wants their stuff back

Someone who gets robbed and says they will use violence to get their stuff back is, in fact, making a threat. Whether it's morally justified or not. You are letting your moral views interfere with the definition of the word "threat". 

The only blame lies squarely on Putin and his gangsters.

No, morally speaking, a share of blame lies with Ukraine for not allowing a democratic referendum on the status of Crimea in 2014. In the aftermath of the revolution it would have been both morally decent and pragmatically smart to recognize that not all of the country was going to accept the new direction and that political status would have to be altered accordingly.  And Ukrainian refusal to accept Crimean secession may have played a role in motivating the 2022 invasion. 

your assumption of Putin respecting any peace treaty ever again is plain wrong. That's not what the guy does nor will do at this point

If you want to judge whether a peace treaty is going to fail, you will need to consider the full context of factors that make it rational or irrational for either side to violate the treaty. An armchair judgment of Putin's character does not suffice.

For example, if Russia is militarily crippled and Ukraine is backed by NATO states then it will not be feasible for Russia to attack Ukraine. Moreover, if Ukraine accedes to NATO then it will not be in Russia's interest to attack Ukraine. 

Also, Putin may die, or may be ousted from office during or not long after the war, in which case your prediction on the basis of Putin's character will become completely irrelevant.  

Seceded with what? Opinion polls? There was no secession to speak of before Putin rolled in with his military disguised as local rebels:

This is not a real answer to my point. 

Oh, poor Putin :( He only wanted to play nice :( He could have just not started the war in 2014. Or 2022. Or 2008 with Georgia. 

You are being obtuse. I expect a higher standard of comment here, if you don't do it then I will use moderator powers. On this forum the author of a post can moderate the discussion. 

"Will of the people" in such important matters as statehood cannot be simply inferred from polls with a sample size of 1000-2000. 

The margin of error on a poll of 1000 people is well below what it would take to overturn the result of >70% of Crimeans favoring secession. That said, I agree that statehood is too important to be left merely to polls, that's why it should be judged with an internationally observed binding referendum. Unfortunately Ukraine attempted to forcibly prevent any such referendum. In the absence of a proper referendum, we can only infer things from the available evidence. The available evidence suggests with high probability that the majority of Crimeans circa 2014 wanted to secede from Ukraine.

Also, analysing many polls side-by-side shows, that their results are at best inconclusive.


If there ever was a solid case for secession there were plenty of avenues to pursue it, without Russia starting wars in 2014 and 2022. 

Regarding 2014 - no there were not. Look at the track record of secessionist movements elsewhere in the world, especially elsewhere in the former USSR, and see how they go. 

Any discussions now should be made remembering, that a terrorist state (Russia) attacked Ukraine in an act of unjust, total war - and this overrides any concern for any Russian interests and claims they might have ever had

No it does not. In international law, the protections which states and their citizens have under various treaties and customs do not get invalidated in such a manner. And in ethics, this is not the correct way of doing things. We do not use bad actions by the other side as an excuse to commit bad actions of our own.


GCRI Statement on Race and Intelligence | Global Catastrophic Risk Institute (gcrinstitute.org)

Seth Baum on behalf of GCRI writes a statement on the controversy.

Worth noting that in this statement Seth justifies the practice of digging through old emails in order to expose offensive statements people have made in the past. Based on this I assume a risk that Seth/GCRI might leak anything I say in an email, and if they have this mindset then I worry that other EA organizations might have it as well. I would prefer to deal with EA organizations which express a commitment against leaking private communications. 


Welcome to the forum.

Conceding anything to Putin and his collaborators at this point will only give them reasons to believe their tactics work and so, nuclear and military threats will never end.

Nuclear and military threats will never end no matter what we do because there is no world government to stop them.

Invading Crimea will show that Russia's scheme to seize Crimea in 2014 was a failure. It will also show that Ukraine's scheme to seize Crimea in 2023 is successful. No matter who wins in a war, one side provides an example of military threats working and another side provides an example of military threats failing. 

Indeed it's true that invading Crimea will hurt Russia and reduce the likelihood of them in particular taking further actions around the world, as I discuss in the section "invading Crimea would weaken Russia", but as I argue there, this is a rather weak reason in favor of executing the operation.

With or without Crimea Putin will try to interfere and destroy Ukraine as long as he is in power, so you are wrong with the assumption that Putin will stop with Crimea in his hands (he very clearly didn't thus far) and Ukraine will be free of burden. 

I never made that assumption. I do say there could be a peace treaty. 

The fact that Minsk II fell apart doesn't show that a stable compromise is impossible - Minsk II failed, I think, because it did not remove tension of areas having de facto seceded while being de jure Ukrainian, and Putin wanted (among many other things) to ensure the long term security of Crimea and DPR/LPR. 

Any peace treaty where de facto control and de jure sovereignty coincide - such as, for instance, one where Russia recognizes Ukrainian sovereignty over the entirety of the Donbas but Ukraine recognizes Russian sovereignty over Crimea - will be much more stable.

The very source you point to in 2021 forum post (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2014_Crimean_status_referendum) points out a number of methodological issues with the referendum and also - in plain terms - it was done while the area was controlled by the Russian military, so exactly zero faith should be put into these results

From that 2021 forum post: "Because of ... the many irregularities with the execution of the referendum suggesting the pro-Russian side could have been artificially exaggerated ... this is not a good indicator for Crimean public opinion." So I don't know why you'd bother to say this. 

I  went on to look at opinion polls, which mostly show majority Crimean support for annexation. 

If EA is net harmful then people shouldn't work directly on solving problems either, we should just pack up and go home.

I doubt a billionaire exists that actually made their money morally.


Quant altruism, more reasonably.

One good reason to claim ownership to billions of dollars is that you are going to donate billions of dollars to effective charities.


Crimea was a part of Ukraine when it was conquered by Russian troops. Unambiguously. 

That's beside the point, I wasn't claiming otherwise. The point is that Taiwan is more like those other cases.

If you only enforce the rules when there is already a military conclusion, you're not enforcing international law, you're saying that might makes right.

I wasn't arguing against the use of sanctions to punish countries for violating international law (or some laws, at least).

And enforcing law requires might, and sanctions are might of a different form, so this doesn't make sense anyway.

That's assuming norms are binary, is reductive, and makes no sense as a response. Yes, norms are degraded by violations, and yes, they are important guides to state behavior in a wide variety of cases. If you don't think either one of those claims is true, I'd be happy to defend it.

I don't think we fundamentally disagree there but I'm saying this stuff is very tenuous as a rationale for foreign policy - one norm violation doesn't make a great deal of difference. 


My fundamental belief here is that the norms on a countries borders should be decided by referendum, and then respected (i.e. not invaded). 

If you think borders should be decided by referendum then you should endorse a substantive right to having a referendum in the first place. That implies that Crimea should be able to hold a referendum even if Kyiv refuses to allow it.

The 2014 referendum was one month after Russia invaded Crimea. I wouldn't trust the results of it (a 96% result to join Russia is implausible)

See the link I provided to my other post discussing public opinion in Crimea. The result is plausible when considering that most pro-Ukraine Crimeans boycotted the vote (so true support was ~80%), but more importantly, ignoring Russia's untrustworthy referendum, polling data shows majority support for annexation. I have no doubt that in 1991 a slim majority of Crimeans wanted Ukraine to leave the USSR, but it's far from the best evidence we have about how Crimeans in 2014 felt about leaving Ukraine to join Russia.

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