Why Research into Wild Animal Suffering Concerns me 2020-10-25T22:26:20.029Z · score: 12 (27 votes)


Comment by jordan_warner on Why Research into Wild Animal Suffering Concerns me · 2020-10-26T20:58:35.411Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · EA · GW

It probably makes more sense in context, but the context is an entire book of Christian apologetics (sequel to a book on  early 20th century philosophy called "Heretics") so I doubt you have time for that right now.

I guess what I really meant was "regardless of how convincing it is to people other than me". By definition if I found something convincing it would change my mind, but in the hypothetical example it's more of a difference in values rather than facts.

I too think it makes the most sense to care about groups only as collections of individuals, but  reasonable people could think the reverse is true.

Comment by jordan_warner on Why Research into Wild Animal Suffering Concerns me · 2020-10-26T20:33:09.293Z · score: 7 (4 votes) · EA · GW

I just wanted to thank everyone for their replies, it's addressed most of my concerns. 

Based on my initial exposure to the field I was assuming that Wild Animal Welfare's long term goal would be to convince people of a worldview directly opposed to my own, i.e.  some form of negative utilitarianism, which I reject for both philosophical and mental health reasons. Regardless of how likely this project was to succeed, it seemed like the kind of thing I should be against, since arguments in favour of destroying the natural world could be very useful to people who planned on doing that anyway.  Nature seems pretty useful, I'd hate to lose it without good reason.

I mentioned negative utilitarianism, and so inevitably world destruction came up. I'll make it clear that I'm totally on board with destroying the world in order to replace it with something better, but for practical reasons we're going to have to do that incrementally. I'm opposed to destroying the world in order to prevent anyone from suffering, which was what I assumed the field would lead to before hearing more about it. I now feel that this will probably be the first kind of destruction, which I'm fine with.

Comment by jordan_warner on Why Research into Wild Animal Suffering Concerns me · 2020-10-26T20:04:17.788Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · EA · GW

To address the first point, it's definitely not something I see as happening any time soon, and I'm much less concerned about the future of the field now that I've read the replies to my post. 

But since you ask, I can only conceive of being convinced that any of my deeply held beliefs are wrong through appeal to an even more deeply held belief, and a lot of my beliefs (and interest in EA) rest on the idea that "Life is Worth Living". At some point, surely there has to be something that isn't up for debate? 

As for why I'd be opposed to human extinction on principle and even against my better judgement, G. K. Chesterton's Orthodoxy, Chapter 5 puts it best: "A man belongs to this world before he begins to ask if it is nice to belong to it. He has fought for the flag, and often won heroic victories for the flag long before he has ever enlisted. To put shortly what seems the essential matter, he has a loyalty long before he has any admiration."

(This is the basis for his argument against optimism, jingoism, pessimism and suicide)

Comment by jordan_warner on Why Research into Wild Animal Suffering Concerns me · 2020-10-26T18:36:32.907Z · score: 3 (4 votes) · EA · GW

I believe we're  already replacing the rainforest with many things of more (economic) value, like palm oil and cows. I guess in future we'll just have the palm oil, at least until we discover plants can suffer and they have to go too.

If being a consequentialist implies I should, under certain circumstances, destroy the world, I think I'm going to prioritise the world over consequentialism. 

Comment by jordan_warner on Why Research into Wild Animal Suffering Concerns me · 2020-10-26T18:15:12.003Z · score: 4 (2 votes) · EA · GW

I think the entire space of dramatically intervening in natural ecosystems in order to align them with our own moral preferences should make anyone nervous (including fertility control , that could go horribly wrong), especially when the space includes "wiping out animals".

I'm not sure I'd call it one thing exactly, that covers everything from total extinction of all life to specific extinction of some species to merely human management of existing populations. The last option is something we already do to some extent, deer aren't going to hunt themselves and we already wiped out most of the wolves.

The fact that I consider some plausible solutions repellent is not a reason not to look into the space, I'm just trying to explain why I'm averse to it.

Comment by jordan_warner on Why Research into Wild Animal Suffering Concerns me · 2020-10-26T15:20:36.330Z · score: 5 (3 votes) · EA · GW

Fertility control is the kind of intervention very few people would have a problem with as long as all the consequences were thought through, I guess it's everything else in the space of possible solutions that makes me nervous.

Comment by jordan_warner on Why Research into Wild Animal Suffering Concerns me · 2020-10-26T15:12:45.692Z · score: 6 (5 votes) · EA · GW

I'll concede that opposing research because I suspect I won't like the conclusions is blatant science denialism. This is more about me trying to explain my feelings than my logical conclusions. I guess I worry it will be convincing to people with a different ethical framework to me, and I won't be able to articulate an equally convincing objection?

I'm totally anthropomorphising here, but if another species decided that humans lives were net negative and chose the simplest solution I'd object, even if they had a lot of convincing research to back them up.

Comment by jordan_warner on When does it make sense to support/oppose political candidates on EA grounds? · 2020-10-17T13:01:00.531Z · score: 6 (5 votes) · EA · GW

I'd say another risk of making political engagement a big part of EA would be alienating non-US citizens, who hear quite enough about US politics everywhere else!

Engagement with politics divides the movement geographically as well as politically, which I think is worth considering. While the rest of the world clearly cares about US politics, I don't think it would be good for EA to encourage foreign interference in any countries elections, so political discussions are alienating to the rest of us.

This isn't a reason to never engage with politics, and I'd imagine political action in other countries could be even more high impact than in the US, by virtue of being more neglected (probably less impactful though, to be honest). It's just another reason to minimise the role of politics in the movement.