Thanks Michael - glad you found it useful! And thanks for point out the broken link, I've fixed it! :)tkwa on Making More Sequences
gworley3 on EA's abstract moral epistemology
So far, I’ve produced one of what I hope will be several sections of the Handbook. The topic is “Motivation”: What are the major ideas and principles of effective altruism, and how do they inspire people to take action? (You could also think of this as a general introduction to EA.) [EA · GW]
If this material is received well enough, I’ll keep releasing additional material on a variety of topics, following a similar format. If people aren’t satisfied with the content, style, or format, I may switch things up in the future. [EA · GW]
My somewhat uncharitable reaction while reading this was something like "people running ineffective charities are upset that EAs don't want to fund them, and their philosopher friend then tries to argue that efficiency is not that important".bmjacobs on Making More Sequences
I love that sequence, but it's specifically about motivation and how to cultivate it. An "Introduction to EA" sequences would ideally focus on introducing some of the key concepts and organizations. Something like Doing Good Better, but with a little more focus on the movement.xccf on When does it make sense to support/oppose political candidates on EA grounds?
Was the "at least one EA" someone in a position of influence?
most of his current work seems either opposed to or orthogonal to common EA positions.
I think you have to be careful here, because if someone's work is "opposed" to a common EA position, it's possible that they disagree on facts related to that position but they are still motivated by doing the most good. It plays into the feedback loop I was talking about in the other comment. If you disagree with someone a lot, and you don't think you will be able to change their mind, you might not want to invest the time in exploring that disagreement.jamie_harris on What Helped the Voiceless? Historical Case Studies
Thanks very much for doing this work. I’m glad to see other people taking an interest in historical evidence to inform questions about global priorities and to inform strategies for moral circle expansion.
I think this is an Impressive overview to have created in a short period of time. And I like the efforts to explicitly assess causation, resisting the ever-present temptation to tell a chronological narrative and assume causal relationships where there is little evidence to suggest them.
Most of Sentience Institute’s case studies to date have focused primarily on one country, or a comparison between two countries. I found the big picture, international consideration interesting. In general, I’m updating slightly towards the importance of international pressure in causing further change and a strategy of, as you suggest, concentrating resources in particular promising locations so that representatives of those countries might sooner become international advocates. I was finding tentative evidence for similar claims in my case study of the US anti-death penalty movement, which includes some comparison to Europe (and briefer comparison to the wider international situation). If you haven’t read that, you may find that interesting.
One other thing I was quite excited about is the following comment:
Political short-termism usually works against future generations, but it can work for future generations if politicians’ and lobbyists’ concern with the short term keeps them from strongly opposing commitments to one day care about future generations... For future generations, this might look like advocating for policies, such as committees or funds for future generations, that will not be implemented for a decade or more.
I wasn’t quite sure how this followed from the historical evidence that you examine, but I thought it was a cool argument, and something I hadn’t thought about explicitly in terms of how longtermist moral circle expansion efforts might look different from neartermist work on animal advocacy or other cause areas that relate to MCE. If we care about, say, maximising the chances that factory farming ends, rather than helping animals as much as possible within the next 10 (or 100) years, then we might be able to effectively trade immediacy for increased radicalism (or durability or some other key priority).
Of course, with a post of this size, there are a lot of nitpicks and comments it’s tempting to offer. But I’ll avoid those and focus on what I think is my most substantial concern. Also, I'll note that I read this post spread over several evenings, so if this is a little incoherent or inaccurate at times, I apologise!
It seems like you’re pursuing two separate goals in this research:
Ideally, I don’t think you would mix these, e.g. in the inclusion criteria (i.e. the selection of the case studies), e.g. in creating a single model that blurs the two goals.
In line with goal (1), you have included several ally-based social movements: anti-slavery (mostly free people advocating for / deciding on the fate of slaves) and environmentalism (present-day humans advocating for / deciding on the fate of the environment). However, you also include movements that are not ally-based — oppressed peoples seeking to empower themselves through democratisation and people advocating for regulations on genetic engineering in order to protect themselves and human society more broadly. Since no justification was provided for the inclusion of democratisation, I was initially confused by this choice, but some clarity was offered by the justification for the inclusion of genetic engineering:
The governance of genetic engineering has reduced a significant threat to future generations: certain engineered pathogens could bring about human extinction, keeping future generations from existing.
Hence, I infer that goal (2) influenced the case study selection. This is supported by the justification for the inclusion of the environmentalism movement, which seems to mix (1) and (2):
environmental advocates have achieved significant successes for future generations, as well as other entities that have no direct political power: ecosystems.
I think this critique of the methodology is quite important, because it directly bears on one of the main arguments you advance in this research: "inclusive values" were not that important in driving change, which suggests that further MCE is not as likely as a simple extrapolation from the trend towards expanded moral circles in the past few centuries might imply.
Including a focus on movements that have only accidentally benefited future generations and then noting that the changes occurred mainly because they benefited powerful groups (present humans) rather than because people intended to help future generations seems tautological. (I think this might be a pretty uncharitable interpretation of your intentions; apologies if so, but hopefully it helps to make the point.) Hence, I think it's more valuable to evaluate movements by their own goals, or at least by their effects on their intended beneficiaries (e.g. the environment rather than future generations for the environmentalism movement, e.g. present generations for genetic engineering).
By comparison, in selecting Sentience Institute’s case studies, we have focused on ally-based movements (with a secondary important consideration being chronological proximity). Hence, our case studies have been: Antislavery, anti-abortion, anti-death penalty, and prisoners’ rights (though the latter turned out to be less “ally-based” than I was expecting). I’ve also got one on the Fair Trade movement underway. These were chosen principally for comparability with the farmed animal movement but are similarly if not equally applicable to advocacy for future generations.
Although I see this concern as weakening the case that you put forward, I do think weak evidence is useful, and I’ve still updated my views a little away from the tractability of changing the course of history and likelihood of further MCE.
Thanks again for this very cool research!aarongertler on Forecasting Newsletter: September 2020.
The newsletter itself; alas, the reality of time forces me to be selective about what I choose to read more closely. But I'm glad to have the opportunity to select things at all!ld25 on Effective donation for Moria / Lesbos
If I understand you correctly, I agree. I understand the reason for quoting GiveWell's framework, however, I think that it is potentially discouraging to someone who is trying to do the most good in a context that they care about. That's not to say that nobody should ever say 'maybe there are more neglected causes that you may not have thought about', but the EA community certainly shouldn't be giving the impression that we follow some strict ideology that no-one can challenge.linch on Forecasting Newsletter: September 2020.
Do you mean the newsletter itself, or do you read a lot (all?) of the linked content as well?mattlerner on Effective donation for Moria / Lesbos
I wonder if the forum shouldn't encourage a class of post (basically like this one) that's something like "are there effective giving opportunities in X context?" Although EA is cause-neutral, there's no reason why members shouldn't take the opportunity provided by serendipity to investigate highly specific scenarios and model "virtuous EA behavior." This could be a way of making the forum friendlier to visitors like the OP, and a way for comments to introduce visitors to EA concepts in a way that's emotionally relevant.