All of xander_balwit's Comments + Replies

The Case for Reading Books

Hello Brad,
Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts. To your last point, what if reading did maximize the welfare of an EA agent such that they were better able to effectuate their values? After all, many EAs take time away from directly doing good to lift weights, socialize, go out to dinners, and generally engage in other activities that give them pleasure. It won't be the same for everyone of course, but when considering the happiness/impact tradeoff I see many EAs devote time to the former in the hopes of maximizing the latter. In my case, reading n... (read more)

1Brad West2mo
If an EA enjoys deep reading more than the suite of other activities he or she could engage in for fun and unwinding, that could be a good reason to spend time deep reading. And perhaps in some cases, deep reading can further critical skills which have benefits from an EA perspective. It's just that it's no longer a broad case for deep reading, but rather a case that it might make sense depending on your tastes/circumstances.
The Case for Reading Books

Hello Alexander,
Thank you so much for your comment. You are right, I don't think I sufficiently made the case for reading non-fiction books specifically and that my post blurred between the two genres a bit too readily. However, I think a lot of the arguments for fiction are true for non-fiction as well, namely, quality of prose, deep focus, and close reading.  I think reading a whole non-fiction work rather than a summary helps the content go from disparate facts to being situated within a web of context. In this respect, I think we better retain the... (read more)

Guided by the Beauty of One’s Philosophies: Why Aesthetics Matter

Hello Zachary,

I don't think the meaning of aesthetics that Etienne explores in this post really applies to Carrick Flynn's campaign. Aesthetics are a more replicable, cohesive, and norm-driven way of thinking about appearances. Carrick's Campaign may have garnered a poor public perception based on the proximity to/appearances of being a white-crypto bro. However, I don't think this has to do with an aesthetic he cultivated–rather a public image. The aesthetic of the campaign would have been things like graphic design choices, our media selection, and the r... (read more)

Why should I care about insects?

Thank you for your post. You present a well-reasoned and fascinating case for extending our moral circle to include insects. 

I am an enormous insect lover and I have become hugely preoccupied with learning more about their subjective experiences and to what degree insects experience suffering. A couple of years ago I researched how the human consumption of insects–entomophagy, could support resilient diets. Initially, I was so enamored by the favorable land/water use of insect farming that I could largely overlook the ethical concerns behind entomopha... (read more)

I think a lot of this makes sense for the general public, but I agree with other commenters that a lot of vegans do think insects are worthy of care or at least use the precautionary principle to avoid honey and silk. I'm one of those people and I do think insects suffer but I still have less interest in putting a lot of resources in this direction. My perception of lower tractability is part of it, but it's also that even for those who do think they suffer, we are just barely sure of that. I would guess that the experience/scope of suffering for such a simple organism is qualitatively different from vertebrates, so the scale arguments don't hold as much weight to me. To take one aspect of suffering, there's a qualitative difference between suffering in the moment and having any concept of the fact that you have been suffering for however long, and another layer of qualitative difference between that and realizing you're likely to continue suffering in the future. Most adult humans can do both, and I would guess that insects can do neither, while other vertebrates fall somewhere in between. Add to that all the other dimensions on which suffering likely differs and to me it becomes almost meaningless to compare the scale. As an analogy to qualitatively different types of human suffering, I don't have the slightest idea how one would weight quadrillions of bullying experiences against millions of murders. I'm hardly an expert, but that's my sticking point.