It's the geographic proximity that I get hung up on though. He is right in front of the Samaritan. I can't think of any parables that involve someone showing mercy to a person who is not right in front of them.
Every time Jesus performs a miracle, it is for someone right in front of him.
I am strongly in favor of more impartiality, but think most Christians find it a stretch to say that the Good Samaritan parable is meant to imply we should care for future people and people on the other side of the world who they will never meet.
Thanks for the pushback!
I am not trying to argue that Christianity does not support impartiality - there are certainly plausible readings of Jesus's teachings (like that of the Good Samaritan) as plausibly supporting impartiality.
I'm more trying to argue that Jesus's teaching does not necessarily push you to that conclusion.
Jesus is very explicit about the importance of things like:
And the church has emphasized those teachings in the 2000 years since.
I everyone who studies Christianity comes away saying those traits are core to Christianity - even if not all Christians practice them.
But very few Christians arrive at the conclusion that we should try to help people on the other side of the world or who are not alive yet with just as much effort as we try to help the people in our immediate community. So I think it's fair to say that the idea of impartiality is not core to the Christian worldview and belief the way charity, faith, humility, are. It's not intuitive for most Christians the way those other traits are (again - even if they don't achieve).
If Jesus had told such a parable, maybe impartiality would be more intuitive to more Christians.
I'm curious - do you think that impartiality directly follows from Christian teaching? Maybe it follows directly than I am thinking, or I have a weird notion about what it means for something to be "consistent" with a religion vs. "following" from it.
Unfortunately I don't know anything at all about this literature, but I wouldn't be surprised if there weren't many studies. There are certaintly non-altruistic reasons for existing governments to favor schooling as we have it - teaching rule-following, instilling patriotism, ability to mold young minds in a particular kind of way.
My guess would be that there are huge improvements to be had in the ways that most countries do education, and that more experiments would be helpful. More radical education attempts seem valuable.
A few thoughts:
Also note that in the US, a child does not have to "go to school" as much as they have to "receive an education". A kid can be homeschooled, though that homeschooling has to meet certain requirements and the kid has to pass standardized tests.
For ameliorating the issue, I'm all for better schooling that gives more opportunity for exploration, and respects children's autonomy. But I do think in my ideal society, education of some sort would still be basically compulsory.
Follow up on this - I downgraded my prioritization of this as an intervention after talking to a friend in Nairobi who told me that overperscription of anti-biotics is a huge issue in Nairobi. In lots of neighbourhoods, the informal medical clinic will just prescribe you strong antibiotics for relatively mild symptoms.
This made me
1. doubt that people will use randomly distributed antibiotics correctly - so less upside
2. give more credence to the idea that passing them out randomly could increase antibody resistance - potential downside
Brian drain is an interesting topic. The brief research and thinking I've done on brain drain leaves me without clear answers as to what an individual facing a decision to emigrate should actually do.
Even if it is in aggregate bad that so many people move from poorer to richer countries (which is not obvious to me), it could still be the rational thing to do on an individual basis.
I would love to see a sort of guide based on EA-principles written for people in low-middle income countries considering moving to higher-income countries.
Side note: the methods used in the second paper you shared don't make sense to me. They say that "for every doctor that emigrated, a country lost about: (i) US$ 517,931", but they arrive at this 517k figure by saying that education costs ~$65k, and then applying compound interest over 32 years. Seems to me it would be more accurate to say that the country lost $65k, plus the medical services that person would have provided.
Hi Gregory, thank you so much for this thoughtful reply!
This is exactly the kind of discussion and analysis I was hoping to encourage with this post.
And for what it's worth, I think the advice you gave in 2015 totally makes sense given the likely audience then. It's exciting that the audience has changed now and will continue changing.
I strongly agree.
Funding seems quite tractable - there could be a fund specifically for assisting EAs from Africa to go to conferences.
On the visa assistance thing I'm not sure what would be very tractable - maybe there is some way these conferences could position themselves that would make it easier for Africans to get "education"-related visas rather than tourist visas (e.g., if EAG positioned itself as an academic conference somehow, would that enable people to apply under more lenient visa categories)?