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Robert_Wiblin comments on Are You Sure You Want To Donate To The Against Malaria Foundation? - Effective Altruism Forum

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Comment author: Robert_Wiblin 07 December 2016 03:38:52AM *  5 points [-]

Two quick things. Firstly I think many people give to GiveWell recommended charities because they believe, rightly or wrongly, that a healthier population will spur economic growth, or political reform, or whatever else, which will improve the welfare of present and future generations of people in the country. That argument would apply to total utilitarians, though be swamped by arguments relating to existential risks.

Secondly, GiveWell at least does not claim that AMF is the 'most best charity', but rather that it meets their four criteria here (evidence, cost-effectiveness, room for more funding and transparency): http://www.givewell.org/how-we-work/criteria . But other people might accidentally start using loose language like 'best charity', and they probably shouldn't.

Comment author: Pablo_Stafforini 07 December 2016 01:33:19PM 6 points [-]

Firstly I think many people give to GiveWell recommended charities because they believe, rightly or wrongly, that a healthier population will spur economic growth, or political reform, or whatever else, which will improve the welfare of present and future generations of people in the country.

That argument, however, is vulnerable to the "suspicious convergence" objection.

Comment author: MichaelPlant 07 December 2016 11:31:03AM 2 points [-]

Yo Rob.

yeah, I agree it's possible people support AMF for reasons other than that they think saving lives is important, but I've actually never heard anyone talk about it in those terms maybe other than you and Ben Todd. If that's why people support AMF, that also implicitly concedes the point that they don't do it because it saves lives. I have no idea how to think about AMF vs anything else in terms of economic growth, but I'd be curious to see the argument if someone else has made it. It strikes me there are more direct ways to spur growth or reform than stopping young children dying.

As to your 2nd point, that's not how Givewell sell themselves, given they talk about 'top charities'.

"GiveWell tries to help donors do as much good as possible with each dollar they give"

"We recommend charities according to how much good additional donations can do. We examine charities' overall quality and cost-effectiveness, as well as what more funding would enable them to do. We regularly publish discussions of our top charities' strengths and weaknesses"

If that's what GW say, but what they mean by best, when pushed, is "meets are 4 criteria" that a bit of a motte and bailey. Also, it's hard tot hink about cost-effectiveness is anything but moral terms.