Jargon Breakdown for Reducing Wild Animal Suffering: Basic Terminology

As the focus area of reducing wild animal suffering develops, more jargon has come into play. This is a breakdown of common terms used among suffering reducers focused on wild animals in effective altruism.

If you see effective altruists using the initialisms RWAS, WAS (wild animal suffering), or WAW (wild animal welfare), they’re referring to roughly the same thing.

Reducing Wild Animal Suffering: the cause as it's referred to in effective altruism, emphasizing the thing we ultimately care about doing, namely reducing the unnecessary suffering of wild animals.

Wild Animal Suffering: the thing effective altruism is seeking to act upon.

Wild Animal Welfare: "Welfare" in research both in and outside of EA means to be broken into the positive/good and negative/bad aspects of well-being. As EA necessarily begins reaching out to academia and biology as a field, it makes sense to in context use terminology they'd be more familiar with. Seeding welfare biology as an academic research field to assess the quality of life for wild animals will require looking at both the happy and miserable aspects of their lives, although EA is concerned with mitigating the misery as opposed to increasing the happiness[1]. Also putting undue emphasis on a moral imperative to intervene in ways which could initially be offputting to the scientific community by using a more laden word like 'suffering' instead of 'welfare' could make bridge-building between EA and academic biology unnecessarily difficult.

[1] While this is because a lot of effective altruists focused on RWAS identify their ethical system as primarily focused on reducing suffering, as elucidated by the Foundational Research Institute, it's mostly because short of something like the Hedonistic Imperative it doesn't appear viable to dramatically increase the rate and degree of naturally occurring happy animal lives in the wilderness.

Comments (1)

Comment author: MichaelPlant 05 May 2018 11:38:31AM 3 points [-]

I downvoted this post because I found it unhelpful for someone to create half a dozen, quite short, posts on essentially the same topic, which I feel was unnecessary. I'd encourage you to put these into few post, or possibly just a single post linking to a google doc which contained the information