Arjun Panickssery

153Joined Feb 2022


Passing Up Pay

Tax evasion is a crime. Tax avoidance—legally reducing your taxable income—is good and more people should learn about it. You shouldn't unnecessarily "compensate the state" for things you don't want it to do.

there's some amount - your donations - which is allocated according to your flavor of expected impact; and another one - taxes - that's allocated by democratically chosen representatives in your country

This is right, and you should just minimize the amount you allocate to the state, whose effectiveness is very low.

Jobs at EA-organizations are overpaid, here is why

However, this almost inevitably leads to all organizations in a sector competing on this metric leading them to pay far higher wages for each staff member than they would have had had they corporated and not paid above market rate.

This reads like "It would be more efficient to have a cartel."

Also there is a messy distinction made between "impact" and "market" value with regard to competing for talent.

Just Say No to Utilitarianism

When your intuitions conflict you can think of your relative credence and then maximize the expected quality of your choice.

Just Say No to Utilitarianism

intuitions shouldn't be seen as data that give us direct access to moral truth,

I think that our initial moral intuitions about particular situations are—along with immediate occurrences like "Courage is better than cowardice"—the lowest-level moral information, and these intuitions provide reasons for believing that the moral facts are the way they appear.

I'll read the Singer paper.

Just Say No to Utilitarianism

Your chosen method - refuting a rule with a counterexample - throws out all moral rules, since every moral theory has counterexamples.

I'm not sure what exactly you mean by a moral rule, e.g. "Courage is better than cowardice, all else equal" doesn't have any counterexamples. But for certain definitions of moral rule you should reject all moral rules as incorrect.

You're free to deny one of the assumptions, but there ends the conversation.

Looking at the post, I'll deny "My choices shouldn't be focused on ... how to pay down imagined debts I have to particular people, to society." You have real debts to particular people. I don't see how this makes ethics inappropriately "about my own self-actualization or self-image."

Just Say No to Utilitarianism

What do you think is the source of ethical knowledge if not intuitions

Fiction Writing Retreat: Ink in the Abbey

I agree with you that the prose is passable, readable and fairly solid

I didn't say the prose was "fairly solid." I would have to go back (and maybe it improves after the first several chapters) but I remember it being bad.

There are no people to be effectively altruistic for on a dead planet: EA funding of projects without conducting Environmental Impact Assessments (EIAs), Health and Safety Assessments (HSAs) and Life Cycle Assessments (LCAs) = catastrophe

I have been told that there are a lot of Effective Altruists who would accept some degree of environmental harm, at least if the payoff in terms of human lives saved was great enough. (And I’ve also seen this tendency in some of the members of the EA courses I have been attending.)


This attitude is rooted in a mindset, however, that is the cause of many of our problems in the first place: the idea that we humans are somehow separate from nature, and can do with it what we will. Many of us, even if we do not consciously espouse a religion, are still conditioned by monotheistic ideas of humans as the pinnacle of Creation, set above it and in dominion over it.

Depending on what you mean by this, yes. There is no intrinsically "pure" quality about things that aren't man-made. It is up to us to subdue the earth (and outer space) for the benefit of ourselves and our descendants. 

There is no ultimately no distinction between us and nature ( 

What do you mean by this? Your linked post lists a bunch of views like Zen Buddhism and European paganism.

Fiction Writing Retreat: Ink in the Abbey

It is a common misconception that because a piece of fiction was bad for the particular individual writing, or is low status, or is missing some desired marker of 'goodness', that it therefore is not 'good'. 

I should clarify that my potshot was mocking the prose. There are other ways that HPMOR was good (or so I suspect—I only got through the first 5 or 10 chapters). I also failed to get through the first chapter of Atlas Shrugged even though I would probably find its aesthetic more agreeable than most people and even though it was much more influential than HPMOR. 

EDIT: Actually, I think my comment had more value than just a potshot. I know a bunch of wannabe writers, my past self included, who were overly concerned with prose quality.

Fiction Writing Retreat: Ink in the Abbey

This is huge.

Fiction like Atlas Shrugged and Uncle Tom's Cabin and The Jungle have been massively influential.

A surprising number of people have told me they got into the EA/LessWrong sphere through HPMOR, which at least tells us that the writing doesn't even have to be good to make a difference.

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