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Parker_Whitfill comments on The Ethics of Giving Part Four: Elizabeth Ashford on Justice and Effective Altruism - Effective Altruism Forum

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Comment author: Parker_Whitfill 05 September 2018 08:49:37PM 2 points [-]

"Whether we seek to alleviate poverty directly or indirectly, we might suppose that such efforts will get a privileged status over very different cause areas if we endorse the justice view. But our other cause priorities deal with injustices too; factory farming is an unjust emergency, and an existential catastrophe would clearly be a massive injustice that might only be prevented if we act now. And just like poverty, both of these problems have been furthered by selfish and corrupt international institutions which have also contributed to our wealth. So it's not really clear if the justice view might change much in our approach to cause prioritization."

I'm most interested in how Ashford's views might affect cause prioritization. Yes factory farming and x-risk can be characterized as injustices, but it isn't clear to me if these cases are as clean as the case for global poverty being an injustice. For example, you might argue that x-risk is caused by corrupt international institutions that only favor present people, but this brings up a whole range of possible considerations like if you can be unjust towards future people given the non-identity problem. Overall, I think this issue is debatable and I'd be interested in seeing more work done on it.

Comment author: bwildi 06 September 2018 07:44:18AM 2 points [-]

Isn't factory farming a clear-cut case of injustice? A pretty standard view of justice is that you don't harm others, and if you are harming them then you should stop and compensate for the harm done. That seems to describe what happens to farmed animals. In fact, as someone who finds justice plausible, I think it creates a decent non-utilitarian argument to care about domestic animal suffering more than wild animal suffering.

As my last sentence suggests, I do think that justice views are likely to affect cause prioritisation. I think you're right that justice may lead you to different conclusions about inter-generational issues, and is worth a deeper look.

Comment author: Parker_Whitfill 07 September 2018 05:18:54PM 0 points [-]

"A pretty standard view of justice is that you don't harm others, and if you are harming them then you should stop and compensate for the harm done. That seems to describe what happens to farmed animals."

I think this only applies to people who are contributing to the harm. But for a vegan for is staunchly opposed to factory farming, they aren't harming the animals, so factory farming is not an issue of justice for them.