Wiki Contributions


Animal Welfare Fund: Ask us anything!

Congrats on being the new fund chair, Kieran!

I notice you've made a huge grant to Wild Animal Initiative. That's great! 

With work on this subject, I'm curious how you would prioritize between research to inform future interventions, advocacy to raise concern about the subject, and current interventions to improve wild animal welfare? 

Killing the ants

Thanks for writing this. While doing research on invertebrate sentience I've wondered about this kind of thing. I don't deliberately harm arthropods, but I haven't stopped hiking (where I'll probably step on many arthropods), and I definitely haven't stopped washing. It's true that you could give a means ends justification that help more animals by continuing to work I'm doing without disrupting my lifestyle by worrying about these things, but I'd be horrified if my normal life involved harming even a fraction as many large animals - I just don't feel the same way about arthropods I guess.

It would be convenient if mites happen to have minuscule moral weight to justify our everyday behaviour, but I don't think the arguments are good enough to be confident enough in that. People just seem to feel very definitely about these cases, whether or not there exist any good moral justification for it.

Why I'm focusing on invertebrate sentience

Yeah, even the information for total number of neurons is absent for many invertebrates. More specific information like that would rarely be available.

How should we run the EA Forum Prize?

In my case at least, I can say that both the money and the reputation for winning was extremely valuable. Thanks for that!

Is it suffering or involuntary suffering that's bad, and when is it (involuntary) suffering?

I'm a hedonistic utilitarian, and I think that even voluntary suffering is be intrinsically bad, as long as it's still suffering at that point. Here the reasons I explain the phenomena that you note in your question. My answers are partially overlapping but some of the solutions you suggest.

- I personally mostly listen/watch/read media that deals with negative emotions. When I do this I sometimes have a twinge of the negative emotion, but I don't think I would really describe it is negatively valenced. Sometimes it may involve a bit of negative valence, which may be outweighed from the aesthetic appreciation that I get from it.

It seems like 'negative emotions' can sometimes not have negative valence in this way even though they retain their other features. I think this is similar to how 'pain' from exercise can sometimes have a neutral or even positive valence (at least that's how I characterize it). It seems like the secondary resistance to emotions can be generating some or all of the negative valence associated with them.

- Similarly, for an emotion like grief, I think it's either the case that I don't experience it as really negatively valenced or I'm getting immediate counterbalancing positive emotions from it (like a sense of meaning and connection).

- Sometimes negative events can be cathartic, meaning that they provide relief from the negative emotion. I often find crying to do this and crying sort of feels good for this reason (or at least it feels much less bad than the alternative in that situation).

- I think sometimes I also irrationally pursue negatively balanced emotions. For example, by ruminating. Not sure that I have anything insightful to say about why this happens.

It seems to be hard to figure out exactly which of these is happening in a given situation.

COVID-19 brief for friends and family

I get frequent muscle pain in my head and face and I normally believe that by massaging them. I've started to use use a part of my shirt or maybe another object as a barrier to let me do this without touching my hands to my face, but I guess my shirt could also pick up some of the virus, and I could be infected that way. Not sure what my other options are.

Who should give sperm/eggs?

I think you can travel to another country to donate eggs there. I think in general you get paid more in other countries if you are of certain demographics.

In praise of unhistoric heroism

There's is a trap that consequentialists can easily fall into that the author describes beautifully in this post. I think the solution solution within consequentialism is to see that consequentialism doesn't recommend that we we only praise the highest achievers. Praise and blame are only justified within consequentialism when they produce good consequences, and it's beneficial to praise a wide variety of people, most especially people who are trying their hardest to improve the world.

For a fuller spectrum account of what it is to live a moral life, you can add 'virtue consequentialism' to your consequentialism. This position is just the observation that within consequentialism, virtues can be defined as character traits that lead to good consequences, and it's useful to cultivate these.

Doing good is as good as it ever was

I've been in the community since about 2011, and I've also noticed this happening in myself and quite a few others who have been in the community for a long time. I'm not aware of any data on the subject. Denise's explanation of this and this post sounds right to me.

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