Sanjay comments on A definition of effective altruism - Effective Altruism Forum

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Comment author: Jamie_Harris 20 March 2018 11:14:32PM 3 points [-]

All points make sense. I find that when introducing the idea, however, people seem slightly confused by the idea of "doing as much good as possible" (I tend to use nearly identical phrasing). I think the idea seems too abstract to them, and I feel compelled to give some kind of more concrete example to help explain. Although I haven't really tried it out as an alternative, the idea of EA aiming to "benefit others" seems that it might be slightly clearer / more imaginable?

If you agree, this then raises the question of whether we should distinguish a definition of EA for "academic" and "outreach" / explanatory purposes. I'd argue that we should probably avoid separating a definition out for different contexts, so might need to keep thinking about how to word a definition which is clear, but also allows for nuance?

Comment author: Sanjay 21 March 2018 12:49:11PM 0 points [-]

Really? "doing as much good as possible" is confusing people? I tend to use that language, and I haven't noticed people getting confused (maybe I haven't been observant enough!)

Comment author: adamaero  (EA Profile) 22 March 2018 12:36:24AM 1 point [-]

Aren't you going further from the definition though?

Any short definition about EA by itself I find to be abstract. Most people I encounter assume it's about doing as much good small things as possible--or worse that it's a political philosophy (red/blue thinking). It's only when I give examples of myself or ask what their cause interests could be that they slowly break away from the abstract dictionary definitions.

Comment author: Jamie_Harris 02 April 2018 05:45:20PM 0 points [-]

Maybe "confusing" was the wrong word. But I tend to get the sense that people just have no idea what the concept means in practice when I say that, because its so vague / abstract. I'm guessing that people are thinking along the lines "what does he mean by 'doing good'? Surely he means something else / something more specific?" But I might just be misreading people slightly too.

Comment author: kbog  (EA Profile) 24 March 2018 09:40:40PM 0 points [-]

It's not confusing, but it's vague.

Comment author: MichaelPlant 21 March 2018 11:39:26PM 0 points [-]

maybe I haven't been observant enough

I've often observed your lack of observance :)