It probably depends on whether one was given the choice in advance, while not being in the midst of the excruciating pain. The parent would probably precommit to enduring said pain for an hour to save their child. They may, however, choose differently if in the midst of the pain and offered the ability to kill their child to end that excruciating pain.
EM, Effective Malevolence
I think I could help you in your total war. PM me if interested in learning more.
You are erroneously centering the cost to the giver instead of the value to the receiver.
Money enables a charity to obtain the resources it needs, including potentially, the time of someone who can serve its mission and do more good than you could with your time.
If you are very well-suited to help a charity-perhaps you have special skills it needs or the organization is new and needs help in absence of having funds for staff-giving of your time can be very helpful.
But money, given the huge variety of capacities that it can enable, is extremely valuable.
In any case, effective altruism is about centering the effect of one's activity, not the cost to the giver. Dear sacrifice is certainly appreciated, but one should try to leverage it toward achieving a better world.
I do not! But thanks for thinking of me.
There needs to be more willingness by grantwriters and other funders to bear search-costs for new ideas. It seems like there is a strong emphasis on skepticism within EA, which is great, but it usually translates to, we should not fund this because of perceived issues X, Y, and Z or uncertainty regarding the benefits of A, B, and C, when these issues and benefits are better addressed through empirical testing than a skeptic's intuitions. We need a community that will bear the discovery costs of promising interventions, but this seldom happens unless the proponent of the idea already has clout and/or connections within EA.
If we don't have the information to evaluate the effectiveness of a possible solution, the answer is not to discard a potential solution, but rather evaluate the information costs, and the potential value associated with the array of reasonably possible outcomes.
What would be helpful, if this doesn't exist, would be aggregating sets of potential solutions, listing the resources currently directed toward evaluating their EV, determining bottlenecks (often money) in assessing EV, and making reasonable estimates of potential exploitation values given various hypothesize EV. Then those with resources in EA could ensure that promising paths have the resources to be explored, and we can exploit the best solutions fully.
I am rather pessimistic about EA's prospects for this.
BTW, below is the silver bullet of funding effective charities (simply relies on premise that people would rather the money from their purchases go to fight malaria, for instance, rather than enrich shareholders).
Karma magnet was intended as a statement of its effect, not the author's intent.
I have no doubts as to the good motivations of its author.
I simply think such gratitude can be expressed without displacing potential object-level posts for days.
As much as I share appreciation for those helping with community health, this karma magnet post is displacing visibility of posts and doing little to advance the discourse.
Unfortunately, issues like the FTX debacle or the Bostrom stuff recently might be a significant amount of a prospective EA's experience about EA because other aspects may not have penetrated to his/her news sources. Even a small-scale community builder might want some good answers in the face of troubling news one has been in contact with.
Retracted even the heart
Yeah. I would too... But I think people feel more compelled to not do bad things than to positively do good things.
Maybe I'm wrong about veganism: my impression was that the rate of veganism has stayed relatively constant and farmed animal welfare charities have orders of magnitude less funding than global health and development. I think there's definitely been progress in farmed animal welfare, but not necessarily in getting broader public buy in.
It all comes down to whether or not the public would be motivated by the offset framing. I know the framing was compelling to me when I was donating to Givewell charities (now I donate all my money to my own nonprofit). I figured I should at least donate enough to compensate for my own contribution to animal torture, and maybe some multiple of that... I figured there would be an easy way to do this online, but there wasn't really an easy button.
Anyway, I think the search costs are well worth the possibility that offset-framing might be worth exploring... But they won't be borne by me. I'm off trying to save the world by enabling consumers discrimination in favor of effective charities (buy the same shit for the same cost, but Against Malaria Foundation gets the profit rather than traditional shareholders).
It's not one or the other- in fact I think an offsetting campaign would be complementary to political action because it would further awareness of the hell of factory farming. Indeed, some of the effective charities in the farmed animal welfare portfolio might be very promising legislative advocacy campaigns.
I think offsetting could appeal to more people than you think. People don't like being complicit in torture and offsetting offers them the chance not to be. Of course, there's no way of knowing until we actually make it easier for people to do.
I just wish these "other moral perspectives" would stop impeding the betterment of welfare of conscious beings...
The animal welfare movement (if my understanding is correct) has barely been able to move the needle on veganism over the decades it has been revealing its horrors. If we can identify effective charities that can help us toward systemic change in the farmed animal welfare space, maybe we should gain mass buy -in for creating a world with a default of consumption without torture. We need to make available an ask that could be just as, or more effective, but easier for a lot of people: fund effective farmed animal welfare charities and be part of the solution-we can help you do it in 10 minutes.
Thank you for aptly conveying the hell that is the factory farming system. Upon learning of the abomination that is this process, even those who eat meat are repulsed and horrified.
We need to provide an opportunity for the meat-eaters to eliminate the harm they cause by participating in the system. Asking people to change their dietary habits is a difficult ask and we need to provide a simple process that enables a larger set of the public that is repulsed by the process to be a part of the solution (or at least mitigate their contribution to the problem).
With a set of experts in the farmed animal welfare/charity space, create a fund that benefits the most cost effective charities.
- Create a questionnaire in which people can estimate their dietary habits (amount of poultry, egg, beef, etc. consumption on a weekly basis).
- Calculate the harm caused by this consumption on an annual basis.
- Calculate the cost to eliminate these harms by contributing to the farmed animal welfare fund.
- Give people the opportunity to negate their impact by donating that much money (negation cost)
- Give people the opportunity to be part of the solution by donating a multiple of their negation cost.
The vast majority of the planet (a) eats meat and (b) hates torture. We need to provide an easy way for a portion of them to help destroy hell as well, or at least not be part of the problem.
I really hope someone runs with this. I would, but I have a full time job and also run a nonprofit that also seeks to make systemic changes that would benefit, among other causes, farmed animal welfare. It is bizarre that we have not tried to make it easy for meat eaters to offset their impact.
Yep. Acquiring capital without selfish profit motive is a key challenge.
However, if there is an environment in which PFGs enjoy a large advantage and this is clear to the relevant parties, there should be no problem raising funds through philanthropists and debt.
You can frame it as
F(C) = F(K) +P
F(C) is a firm capitalized mostly by charitable equity
F(K) is an identical firm capitalized by private equity
P is the monetary value of positive discrimination in favor of charities
If we have an environment in which P is high enough (I think this could be true in a lot of lower differentiation products), a PFG could probably be capitalized wholly by debt...
If PFGs offer a high enough value proposition (and this is clear to the relevant parties), the financing issues will work themselves out.
Thus, the question is, are the costs of creating the environment we're looking for worth it? I think with the amount of money on the table, it is definitely worth determining what P values are possible in different contexts because money in the hands of effective charities is such high impact.
The firms would not be looking for (much) investment on behalf of typical shareholders. So your numbered points are immaterial... PFGs are 90%+ charitable equity.
Your characterization is a bit off... These Profit for Good Companies are not "nonprofit. " They exist to make profit, but for a specific kind of shareholder.
You're right... Currently PFGs cannot get adequate investment because this isn't on the menu for philanthropists as means to multiply their donations. But if philanthropic money could be multiplied by leveraging consumer (and other economic actor's) discrimination in favor of charities, there would be ample incentive to invest... Philanthropists want to multiply the funds that are available and leveraging the good will of economic participants gives them that opportunity... If people can buy your laundry detergent for the same cost and help fight malaria, they will. The fact that we are not trying to give them this power is foolishness.
Anyone would rather buy in a way that benefits charities rather than traditional shareholders, and equity being held by a particular kind of entity does not necessarily increase costs or otherwise compromise a product.
You're right, capitalizing PFGs would compete with direct donations and "more broad investment." In these competing cases, you're leaving money on the table because you're failing to leverage the good will of consumers and other economic actors.
The bottom line is that PFGs, if capitalized, have all the advantages normal firms do, plus an extra advantage in that economic participants value their success more than competitors. The only thing keeping such firms from thriving and offering a huge multiplier opportunity is that we haven't created an environment of public awareness of the opportunity (which is what my nonprofit is trying to do).
Thanks for your thoughts.
I would push back a bit on your notion that it would only work with memetic matching. Especially if the PFG model were to take off, it may be pretty cheap and effective to signal that a company works for charities instead of shareholders. For instance, one of our thoughts with the Consumer Power Initiative is that PFGs could use a color-variant of our logo to signify a category of charity (maybe red for Global Health and Development, yellow for animal welfare, green for fighting environmental degradation). Essentially though, helping any of those causes, if you're not paying more, or otherwise sacrificing, should give you an edge regardless of whether there's a thematic match.
I also do not know about PFGs acting as charities themselves... I think charities in most places are limited in the degree to which they can participate in the economy this way... But in any case, a company with charities in the equity position can do most of what others can do. This is why I think this model will take off eventually. I just hope EA takes advantage of the model so that effective charities enjoy the fruits of our economies.
Thank you for adding this to those sources. I will take a look at the other entries!
It's for posts like these being able to disagree vote without downvoting the main post would be particularly helpful...
Thank you for sharing your experience. I think your observation that there are not really big barriers to individuals effectively donating is correct.
If you'd like to check out my approach to funding charities, it would enable individuals to fund charities without personal sacrifice, by buying from companies with charities in the vast majority equity position. That way they could pay the same amount for goods and services, but charities benefit rather than traditional shareholders.
The back end of this project, which I call the Profit for Good model, is potentially pretty powerful: people can fund charities without personal sacrifice through economic discrimination. The front end is a much heavier lift however. Not only do you have to have companies with charities in the equity position, you also have to have a public that is aware of the option and has the means of exercising it easily available. Nonetheless, I think this model has a good chance of solving many major global problems because anyone would rather buy in a way that helps people if there are not associated sacrifices.
If you would like to learn more : https://forum.effectivealtruism.org/posts/WMiGwDoqEyswaE6hN/making-trillions-for-effective-charities-through-the
I think the complexity arises in evaluating the value and disvalue of different subjective states as well as determining what courses of action, considering all aspects involved, have the highest expected value.
You discuss the example of the despot regularly violating rights of subjects, yet increasing utility. Such a scenario seems inherently implausible, because if rights are prudently delineated, general respect for them, in the long run, will tend to cultivate a happier, more stable world (I.e, higher expected utility). And perhaps incursions upon these rights would be warranted in some situations. For instance, perhaps the public interest may allow someone's property rights to be violated if there is a compelling public interest (eminent domain). This is why we have exceptions to rights (I. E.- free speech and instigating imminent violence). If the rights you are advancing tend to lower the welfare of conscious beings, I would think such formulation of rights is immoral.
You are correct that moral life is complex, but I think the complexity comes down to how we can navigate ourselves and our societies to optimize conscious experience. If you are incorporating factors into your decisions that don't ultimately boil down to improving conscious experience, in my view, you are not acting fully morally.
I believe that rights have value insofar as they promote positive conscious states and prevent negative conscious states. Their value or disvalue would be a function of whether they make lives better. Assigning weight to them beyond that is simply creating a worse world.
I do, however, find the assignment of intrinsic value, imaginable, though mistaken. I do not take umbrage so much at you disagreeing with me so much as you finding my view unimaginable.
Just disagree with this :
"I do not consider myself a hardcore consequentialist. In general, I find it strange to believe that a single ethical theory could/should possibly guide all aspects of one's life."
How is it difficult to believe that trying to promote good conscious experiences and minimize bad conscious experiences could be the key guide to one's behavior? A lot of EAs, myself included, consider this to be the ultimate goal for our actions... Of course, we need many other areas of study and theory to guide in specific areas.
I understand that you disagree with hardcore consequentialism, but I don't see why you think it is strange for others to adopt it. This is especially true when you acknowledge the complexity in consequentialist decision-making, as you did in this post.
I would not be surprised if there was not a very strong relationship between Karma and impact because people tend to be more likely to browse and upvote topics that are easily legible to them. Thus topics related to AI Safety or charities which people are largely familiar tend to attract readership and favorable voting.
On the other hand, novel ideas tend to not get as much attention because of the higher cognitive load on prospective readers and the feeling that a post is not "for them." I imagine posts with low to medium amount of karma, reflecting approval by a smaller audience that read it carefully, may have much higher impact. When I see posts with hundreds in karma, I often think it's a well known EA figure or someone coming up with a variation of a favorite EA tune.
I think outreach from EA to other organizations is great. Part of EA growing bigger is going to be showing that we are not contemptuous of others who are trying to do good that are not within our umbrella... Maybe we won't be able to get the dog shelter volunteer to switch to studying AGI alignment, but maybe he or she might consider expanding empathy to farmed animals and donating to effective charities that address factory farming.
Meeting people where they are at with empathy and respect is a powerful way of being. If we can connect with the altruism and compassion of a broader set of people, we may be able to nudge them to channel some of their efforts in an EA way.
I have been donating about 80% of my income (about $1k/week) to the Consumer Power Initiative because the cause area of enabling consumers to discriminate in favor of effective charities is has extreme impact potential (trillions annually to effective charities could be transformative), is tractable (we can create companies that work for charities that can offer similar products at the same prices), and neglected (very little efforts and resources is being expended in this area).
If you want to learn more about our organization, feel free to check out my EA forum post and I'll link to a draft of our upcoming newsletter.
I didn't vote in any way on the comment, but it's plausible you could have different strategic choices. You could try to shift a large donor to cause areas outside of existing preferences to more effective ones (as is the EA "truism") or you could try to discover and endorse the most effective charities within existing preferences. The latter seems to be discussed by Ozzie Gooen in this thread.
Perhaps disagree votes were along the lines that they did not think lobbying for different cause areas would work with Bezos.
Thanks for having the courage to write this. Regardless of whether it's correct, it is good to have the position represented and it is much easier in the current environment to take the other side on this.
I agree... Was very bothered by the categorical proscriptions against "ends justifying the means" as well as the seeming statements that some kinds of ethical epistemology are outside of the bounds of discourse. Seemed very contrary to the EA norm of open discourse on morality being essential to our project.
If that is the state of the law and they have a legal obligation to return it, they should. I just would not endorse returning if not legally obligated to.
For me, it comes down to whether the retention contributes to the social corrosion in a similar manner to the underlying fraud. My intuition is that it does not, and thus the question should be evaluated from the first order utility differences.
I do not think if there was some determination that a grantee had the right to retain the funds that(a) voluntarily relinquishing them to FTX victims would remedy much at all the social corrosion caused by the underlying fraud or (b) that exercising the right to retain would cause further social corrosion. I suppose if I am wrong on either of the points that I might be persuaded.
We estimate that several thousands of dollars saves a life with Global Health and Development charities... Many of these grantees are exploring potentially transformative areas that EAs consider higher EV than these GH&D charities... To unnecessarily defund them is what is immoral.
These grantees did not participate in fraud. They do not need to atone. Perhaps SBF and some other actors engaged in criminal or fraudulent activity and they should be dealt with accordingly. The movement is not compromised by innocent grantees retaining benefits for important work.
We are an applied ethics movement... And the right thing to do here is not to disempower what we have identified as extremely promising efforts to make a better today and tomorrow.
I think what jeopardizes us is if we do not value the work we do. Reflexively neutering our projects without good reason is the path to a worse world.
It is very different from the kind of reasoning that leads to fraud.
Fraud and many other kinds of other criminal behavior corrodes at the fabric of trust that enables our communities, large and small, to operate effectively. Thus, when you diminish the trust that members of society can place in each other, you do immense damage. Thus, in an EV calculation incorporating these kinds of activities, they are seldom justified because the harm risked is colossal.
A retention of a benefit in these circumstances where the grantee is not complicit and is not legally required to return it does not cause or risk the above harm in the least.
If a grant recipients'use of resources is extremely high EV, which it should be, the unnecessary defunding of it is obscenely immoral.
Exactly, just as charities might unintentionally do harm, so can for-profit entities. Will's statement erred in assuming financial viability for companies is the only dimension on which they can be assessed.
Strong disagree. If you are doing high EV work enabled by funding, were not complicit in fraud or other wrongdoing, and are not legally required to, you should not return the funds.
Counterfactually, the funds might have gone to another high EV organization, so you would probably be doing harm by having received the funds and not using it for your high EV purpose.
If you are doing important work, please do not keep that from being done for want of funding where you are not legally required to. EA grantees empowered by funds do incredibly important work and should not defund themselves unnecessarily.
I think that Fund recipients should return the funds only if legally required. The utility derived from money in the hands of recipients (assuming the Fund is competent in its deployments) far exceeds that of the average FTX victim. Fund recipients are not morally responsible for the wrongdoing of FTX, and should continue to use resources in the high EV way that ostensibly provided the bases for the grants.
The couple arguments against this do not likely hold up against the vast utility discrepancies from resource allocations...
One would be that EA has better press because it intentionally deprives fund recipients who are not legally obligated to lose funding. I don't think it reflects well on EA if we encourage defunding programs we deem extremely high value to pay debts without legal basis.
Another would be that by not disgorging the entirety of a fraudulent actor's benefits (by it being sheltered by grants) we potentially incentivize future fraud by EAs. I think given the endless recriminations and loss, it is hard to think that a silver lining of some ill-gotten gains being put to good use would encourage future bad behaviors.
The dedication of resources to the Fund recipients is likely very high EV and I think we should encourage these recipients to retain these resources for their purpose if legally permitted.
One thing that I think would be helpful is a discussion of the corrosive effect of certain kinds of dishonesty and criminality on the communities we live, big and small. Some kinds of acts tend to weaken the trust we have of our communities thus crippling our abilities to act together, which is often critical.
This is why, even from a pure utilitarian perspective, there should be a strong presumption against certain kinds of dishonesty and criminal activities. The knock-on effects, upon discovery, are often orders of magnitude larger, and negative, than the direct effects. And, since we think in EV terms, when we incorporate this into our decision making, criminal and/or dishonest decisions are seldom justified.
Perhaps the discussion of the perils of using socially corrosive behavior to further one's ends is discussed in EA, but I have not seen it much in my experience.
The core of EA has always been about using our the most of our will and the best of our reason to do the most good we can. So you can be "EA" even if you disagree with many directions the community has decided to go or forgot, and if individual actors, even powerful members, have made choices you disagree with. For a while, I have disagreed strongly with some of decisions by elites in the EA community, but this commitment to a robust community of different, conflicting voices, with a shared commitment to doing good the best we know how, is what we are about.
So, it might not be the easiest to be associated with EA due to the recent SBF news, but I think it's probably important to show your commitment. And if anyone asks you, it's not about any one billionaire or group of people, but rather about you and your business's commitment to a set of principles.
I'm not very knowledgeable about the crypto exchange space. What advantages might FTX becoming a Profit for Good Company create? Could crypto investors go with them instead of competitors because the profits generated are for the benefit of effective charities?
The pith of it is that economic actors such as consumers would rather charities benefit from their activity than private shareholders. If we create the means for them to do so, we can transform the world for the better.
I understand your concern for transparency, but I think you are not giving the public enough credit. I think your concerns would be addressed by a page that laid out your compensation model and the reason for it fully.
If you'd like to discuss further, please email me at Brad@consumerpowerinitiative.org
So you could frame what you are currently doing as 100% profit to charities and simply tie your compensation as an employee of your business to the revenue you generate. You would obtain 50% of gross revenue as an employee of the business up to revenue point X, at which 100% of net profits would go to charities. That way you can say 100% profits go to charities (your compensation being part of the cost) and also say that every purchase helps effective charities. I know you are very interested in transparency, and for good reason, so you could have the information about your compensation, and the reason you structure that way, on your site.
The Charitable Profits Alliance is a trade group that is being started by the Consumer Power Initiative. We are looking to connect Profit for Good Companies (companies where charities get 90-100% of the profit) with each other, influencers, streamers, celebrities, and anyone else who wants to use what they have to help people all around the world do good by buying goods and services. We are also going to do a joint marketing strategy so that people all around the world know who to buy from if they wish to help charities while buying goods.
Please reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org Thanks
Hi Cesar, I think the answer is to advertisement 100% of profits to charity, and then have a performance-based compensation structure for yourself with a cap. Splitting revenue in the way is effectively not just putting charity in the equity position, you're essentially donating portions of your salary until you hit a profit threshold. Make this transparent, like you were planning to do anyway.
Bottom line is that I think 100% profits to charities with a performance based compensation model that caps you at a certain point is both a more accurate description of what you're doing and more compelling to customers. And if you frame it that way, we can recruit you to join the Charitable Profits Alliance 😊.
Hmm I guess that goes into a broader discussion, but I don't think that the EA community profits itself by not including artists and those with skills that aren't squarely in the conventional Earning to Give purview.
In any case, I think more efforts like this to further impact within the art commerce space is an important contribution. Oftentimes, people will not be able to radically change their vocation and its important to look for opportunities for impact within a framework that someone is able to do in a given time.
Further, I don't buy the premise that this is not high EV through a combination of direct impact and promoting a model that is potentially high EV.
Because if he advertises this fact to prospective customers, this will give him an advantage. So he IS trying to earn more money... But for effective charities. And if prospective customers know this, they will be more likely to buy and/or buy more.
For instance, I am going to look for artwork and buy something because I want to support him and the charities he supports.
If he does not advertise the destination of the profit, he is leaving money on the table because buyers like the fact that charities benefit from their purchases.
Why not just give yourself a salary and give 100% of profits?
I think you could achieve your goals while making a mire compelling message to the public.
If you do this, we definitely would be interested in talking to you here at the Consumer Power Initiative.
Feel free to reach out to Brad@consumerpowerinitiative.org
Thanks for doing your awesome charitable endeavor!
That is exactly the kind of project that the Consumer Power Initiative would love to support. We currently have several volunteers in information technology that may be able to help with designing and coding an appropriate online sales platform. We also would be interested in helping someone who wanted to spearhead such a project connect with funders for initial costs. We are also looking to grow connections with influencers and celebrities to promote such businesses.
Thrift for Good is a company in the United Arab Emirates that sells used clothing items and donates 100% of profits to worthy charitable projects. We are working on a trade group for Profit for Good Companies called the Charitable Profits Alliance and they have indicated interest in joining.
Actually, Erich, costs are pretty low for a Shopify store and I am just paying them out of pocket. So 100% of the revenue minus cost of each item is donated. So, if you buy, profit will be made that will translate to a donation to Givedirectly.
Yes, we will be publishing reports on what we donate on a monthly basis.
This post is a deep dive that explores this perspective.
I feel very torn regarding these points because I believe they are fundamentally at odds with my beliefs as a utilitarian. I believe that the vast majority of most agent's value can be instrumental and we probably should primarily, on a bird's eye view, view our happiness as primarily useful toward serving to better the world.
Of course, we are moral patients too, but our consideration is dwarfed by our power.
I think this reasoning applies to the initial funding for new, neglected areas. It often appears like grantmakers are evaluating a project in absolute terms as to whether they think it is likely to succeed.
But exploration and discovery costs are often a pittance compared to potential impact of new ideas, and when the potential for exploitation of promising interventions is incorporated, we should definitely be more risk-seeking with the resources we deploy as a community.
The greatest EV fund distributor may very well be one with many duds and perhaps we should be wary of incentivizing funds that have a bunch of good outcomes. You hear on 80k and on many other sources that we should be risk-neutral re altruistic projects, but this neutrality depends on institutions that will enable new ideas.
You're making the same mistake in understanding my proposition that a lot of my economics professors made that I am discussing charitable "bundling" (although after discussing with my professor from U of C, he understood better than what I was proposing). I must not be writing clearly.
Just instead of thinking of "donations" think dividends. Charities are simply occupying the same place that shareholders normally occupy. Thus, there is no reason it would be "taking a loss" any more than any other firm that has owners. The identity of an owner does not necessarily imply higher costs. Just as individuals trade ownership positions every day on the stock market, ownership could go to charities without jeopardizing performance.