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kbog comments on Descriptive Population Ethics and Its Relevance for Cause Prioritization - Effective Altruism Forum

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Comment author: kbog  (EA Profile) 04 April 2018 03:12:10PM 2 points [-]

First, consider the individual level. Imagine a participant answered with “infinite” in twenty dilemmas. Further assume that the average equivalence number of this participant in the remaining ten dilemmas was also extremely high, say, one trillion. Unless this person has an unreasonably high E-ratio (i.e. is unreasonably optimistic about the future), this person should, ceteris paribus, prioritize interventions that reduce s-risks over, say, interventions that primarily reduce risks of extinction but which might also increase s-risks (such as, perhaps, building disaster shelters11); especially so if they learn that most respondents with lower average equivalence numbers do the same.

That's not descriptive ethics though, that's regular moral philosophy.

For the 2nd point, moral compromise on a movement level makes sense but not in any unique way for population ethics. It's no more or less true than it is for other moral issues relevant to cause prioritization.

Comment author: David_Althaus 05 April 2018 09:04:29AM 2 points [-]

That's not descriptive ethics though, that's regular moral philosophy.

Fair enough. I was trying to express the following point: One of the advantages of descriptive ethics, especially if done via a well-designed questionnaire/survey, is that participants will engage in some moral reflection/philosophy, potentially illuminating their ethical views and their implications for cause prioritization.

For the 2nd point, moral compromise on a movement level makes sense but not in any unique way for population ethics. It's no more or less true than it is for other moral issues relevant to cause prioritization.

I agree that there are other issues, including moral ones, besides views on population ethics (one’s N-ratios and E-ratios, specifically) that are relevant for cause prioritization. It seems to me, however, that the latter are comparatively important and worth reflecting on, at least for people who spent at most a very limited amount of time doing so.