Oscar Delaney

I study maths, philosophy and genetics at The University of Queensland in Australia. I was drawn to EA through GiveWell and Singerian global health ethics, but am now also interested in animal welfare and the longterm.

Wiki Contributions

Comments

[Creative Writing Contest] I See Dead Kids

Thank you.  I found this moving.  I identify with the quandary of how much and when to share this view of the world of ours with others.

We’re Rethink Priorities. Ask us anything!

I am also interested in future internship plans.  Specifically, how flexible are the dates and time commitments?

As someone based in Australia, seasonal descriptors (presumably from the Northern hemisphere) aren't ideal though I can convert them - specific months would be preferable :)  Also our university holiday periods are different, so I will need to work around that too.

Suffering-Focused Ethics (SFE) FAQ

Thanks for this, I found section 4 in particular useful.

"A life worth living is standardly understood as a life that contains more suffering than happiness." Not quite!

Food Security: Pests and Diseases Report

Good point, I have fixed it to now refer to cost-benefit ratios.  They used a 5% discount rate, though they found similar results under 3% and 10%.

I did not come across any research on the rapid reduction of food losses.  Market mechanisms could play a significant role here I imagine, as if the price of food quadrupled after a catastrophe impacting food-production, all actors would be far more motivated to reduce wastage even when it requires extra labour or money.  If a food crisis is looming, governments would also increase their focus on maximising production and minimising wastage, which could also bring significant resources to bear on the problem.  So I think post-harvest losses would be markedly reduced rapidly.  But sadly no quantification or proper research on this that I am aware of.

How Should Free Will Theories Impact Effective Altruism?

Thanks for that personal perspective, good to hear.  For me too I think doubting free will is beneficial in my perceptions of others, as you say it makes judgementalism impossible.  I am yet to reconcile myself emotionally to me lacking freedom though, and perhaps never will.

Yes, perhaps some people will be demotivated by disbelieving free will and choose to be less altruistic, which itself is determined, as is how much I will try to break them out of it.  My moral system would take a lot of adjusting to without being able to use 'ought' statements (given ough-implies-can conception).

How Should Free Will Theories Impact Effective Altruism?

Sure, I think that makes sense if we see EA as just another preference like any other, I think if we were 100% certain there was no free will though it would greatly reduce the moral force of the argument supporting EA (and any decision-guiding framework), as I couldn't reasonably tell someone or myself, 'you ought to do X over and above Y'.

How Should Free Will Theories Impact Effective Altruism?

Thanks finm, I agree, EA is far from uniquely vulnerable to determinism, as you say all action-guiding principles would be affected, I was just contextualising to the forum.

Yes, I think that's a useful distinction, Harris labels these 'determinism' and 'fatalism' respectively, and so still believes our decisions matter in the sense that they will impact the value of future world-states.

That could work to reformulate the meaning of ought statements, though I still feel something important is lost from ethics if determinism is true.

Will have a look at the resources :)

How Should Free Will Theories Impact Effective Altruism?

Exactly, 1 has been the approach I have taken; as long as I am unsure I err on the side of safety and believing in morally large universes including those with free will.  That said, it would be interesting if many EAs were similar and thought something like "there's only a ~10% chance free will and hence morality is real, so very likely my life is useless, but I am trying anyway".  I think that is a good approach, but would be an odd outcome.

How Should Free Will Theories Impact Effective Altruism?

Thanks, I am quite sceptical of compatibilism as a work-around as it still seems unreasonable to say I ought to have done something I metaphysically could not have done.  But yes, given epistemic modesty I can't dismiss it entirely when so many professional philosophers support it.  I'll have a look through LessWrong.

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