I'm a researcher at London School of Economics and Political Science, working in the intersection of moral psychology and philosophy.

Wiki Contributions


Bryan Caplan on EA groups

Maybe he didn't meet that many students, or maybe his main point concerned the median students. I think this is quite weak evidence.

Should EA be explicitly long-termist or uncommitted?

One aspect is that working to prevent existential disasters (arguably the most popular longtermist cause area) may be comparatively effective also from the perspective of the relatively near future.

Also, some EA orgs are already quite explicitly longtermist, as far as I can tell (e.g. Longview Philanthropy).

Rhetorical Abusability is a Poor Counterargument

I wrote a more general post on arguments about consequences of misuse of consequentialism and longtermism.

Cause-neutrality is another option. Both of the tagged articles discuss/criticise cause-neutrality.

Rhetorical Abusability is a Poor Counterargument

Thanks, I think this is a great post.

Another argument is something like the following:

P1. Consequentialist reasoning is often used to justify the set of actions X.

P2. X has bad consequences.

C. Therefore, people believing that consequentialism is true has bad consequences.

This argument isn't directly about the truth of consequentialism. But if correct, it would mean that consequentialism is "self-effacing" - that people believing that consequentialism is true has bad consequences. Historically, some have argued that that's a reason to keep consequentialism, or utilitarianism specifically, secret. There is a debate within moral philosophy about to what extent being self-effacing is a problem for a moral theory.

One could construct an analogous argument concerning longtermism, or maybe specifically consequentialist versions of longtermism. 

I'm not necessarily saying that this is what those who give the types of arguments that you cite have in mind, but in any event, it seems to me a type of argument worth being aware of. There's a large discussion on this topic - not the least in the literature on consequentialism and utilitarianism - that one can draw on. 

(I may or may not return to the plausibility of this argument - I don't have time now.)

Nathan Young's Shortform

By and large I think this aspect is going surprisingly well, largely because people have adopted a "disagree but respect" ethos.

I'm a bit unsure of such a fund - I guess that would pit different cause areas against each other more directly, which could be a conflict framing. 

Regarding the mechanism of bargains, it's a bit unclear to me what problem that solves.

doing more good vs. doing the most good possible

the social movement of Effective Altruism would be able to do the most good if it encouraged people to do incrementally more good instead of holding a gold standard of people dedicating their lives to the cause. Most people aren't able to...donate most of their income due to lack of motivation, executive function, resources, or other reasons

I'm not sure of this representation of the views of Effective Altruists. Effective altruists aren't expected to donate most of their income (whether they optimise their career for EA  or not) and very few do so. And the fact that there are psychological reasons against being too self-sacrificial has been admitted and extensively discussed within EA (e.g. here, here, here, and here, and many other posts).

The notion that EA should focus more on making work on causes that aren't identified as effective within EA more effective was discussed in this post. It's a big question with lots of considerations. One argument against is, however, that the differences in cost-effectiveness between cause areas may be big, meaning that steering resources towards the most effective cause areas may be very important. Another is that a reduced focus on effectiveness may lead to lowered intellectual standards and general dilution of the EA message. But there are many other considerations to take into account.

Earning to give may be the best option for patient EAs

Or are you saying it would make sense to use that money to fund further high-risk entrepreneurial activities?


On the point about community building and research outperforming the stock market - I would like to see some sort of quantification of this rather than just an assertion.

In any event, I think it's a relevant post which would be good to mention in this context. And fwiw I agree with Owen's estimate that it's substantially outperformed the stock market in the past. E.g. it has arguably led to many billions of dollars getting dedicated to longtermist causes.

Stefan_Schubert's Shortform

LessWrong is experimenting with a two-axis voting system:

The two dimensions are:

  • Overall (left and right arrows): what is your overall feeling about the comment? Does it contribute positively to the conversation? Do you want to see more comments like this?
  • Agreement (check and cross): do you agree with the position of this comment?

I think it could be interesting to test out that or a similar voting system on the EA Forum as well.

Earning to give may be the best option for patient EAs

One can typically double one’s financial resources - in nominal terms - over the course of a decade, through equity market index investing.

It seems to me that EAs who have pursued more high-risk entrepreneurial activities have got substantially higher mean returns (see Mathieu Putz's post). So it's not clear to me that index investing should be seen as the best or default option.

Btw, Owen Cotton-Barratt has written a post called "Patient vs urgent longtermism" has little direct bearing on giving now vs later which I think is very relevant to the themes of this post. For instance, he argues that 

longtermis[t community-building and research] (broadly understood) has vastly outperformed the stock market over the last twenty years in terms of the resources it has amassed. I then think that individual decisions about giving now vs later should largely be driven by whether the best identifiable marginal opportunities are still good investments

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