Comment author: stijnbruers 06 May 2018 09:52:50PM 1 point [-]

just to add for completeness (or as a way of self-promotion): the "psychological" foundations of WAS (in particular the cognitive biases that lead to an anti-intervention attitude):

Comment author: stijnbruers 15 April 2018 07:26:40PM 1 point [-]

This project seems to be a bit similar to an idea that I have. I start with a population ethical view of variable critical level utilitarianism So everyone can choose his or her own preferred critical level utility. Most people seem to agreggate around two values: 1) the totalists prefer a critical level of 0, which corresponds with total utilitarianism (the totalist view) and 2) the personalists or negativists prefer a conditionally maximum critical level (for example the utility of the most prefered state), which is close to negative utilitarianism and the person-affecting view. (I will not go into the conditionality part here) When we create new people, they can be either totalists or personalists (or something else, but that seems to be a minority. Or they can be in a morally uncertain, undecided superposition between totalists and personalists, but then we are allowed to choose for them their critical levels. If we make a choice for a situation where a totalist with a positive utility (well-being) is created, that positive utility counts as a benefit or a gratitude regarding our choice. If we caused the existence of a personalist (or negativist), we did not create a benefit. And if that personalist complains against our choice because it prefers another situation, we actually harmed that person. Now we have to add all benefits and harms (all gratitudes and complaints) for everyone who will exist in the choice that we will make. Concerning the far future and existential risks, we need to know how many totalists and personalists there will be in the future. Studying the current distribution of totalists and personalists can give us a good estimate. This might be related to the N-ratios of people. Totalists have low N-ratios, personalists/negativists have high N-ratios

Comment author: stijnbruers 15 April 2018 07:04:07PM 1 point [-]

Perhaps interesting in this context: my current population ethical view of variable critical level utilitarianism

Comment author: MichaelPlant 20 March 2018 09:50:23PM *  1 point [-]

The thing I find confusing about what Will says is

effective altruism is the project of using evidence and reason to figure out how to benefit others

I draw attention to 'benefit others'. Two of EA's main causes are farm animal welfare and reducing risks of human extinction. The former is about causing happy animals to exist rather than miserable ones, and the latter is about ensuring future humans exist (and trying to improve their welfare). But it doesn't really make sense to say that you can benefit someone by causing them to exist. It's certainly bizarre to say it's better for someone to exist than not to exist, because if the person doesn't exist there's no object to attach any predicates to. There's been a recent move by some philosophers, such as McMahan and Parfit, to say it can be good (without being better) for someone to exist, but that just seems like philosophical sleight of hand.

A great many EA philosophers, including I think Singer, MacAskill, Greaves, Ord either are totalists or very sympathetic to it. Totalis the view the best outcome is the one with the largest sum of lifetime well-being of all people - past, present, future and it's known as impersonal view in population ethics. Outcomes are not deemed good, on impersonal views, because they are good for anyone, or because the benefit anyone, they are good because there is more of the thing which is valuable, namely welfare.

So there's something fishy about saying EA is trying to benefit others when many EA activities, as mentioned, don't benefit anyone, and many EAs think we shouldn't, strictly, be trying to benefit people so much as realising more impersonal value. It would make more sense to replace 'benefit others as much as possible' with 'do as much good as possible'.

Comment author: stijnbruers 15 April 2018 07:01:19PM *  0 points [-]

I suggest to leave it up to the other persons to decide whether they are benefitted. For example: I have a happy, positive life, so I claim that my parents benefitted me when they caused my existence. So there does exist someone (me, now, in this situation) who claims to be benefitted by the choice of someone else (my parents 38 years ago), even if in the counterfactual I do not exist. So my parents made a choice for a situation where there is a bit more benefit added to the total benefit. If you disagree in the sense that you don't think you were benefitted by your parents when they chose for your existence (even when you are as happy as I am), then that means your parents did not create an extra bit if benefit and you were not benefitted. More on this here:

In response to Don't sweat diet?
Comment author: stijnbruers 07 January 2017 01:08:30AM *  0 points [-]

I think there is a mistake in the calculation: Price (in THL donations) of veganism = 1/45 * 71.1 / 3.4 LIVES (instead of YEARS)/$ = $0.46/life. Assuming most lives are chickens who live on average 1/10 of a year (5-6 weeks), we get about $5/year vegan. This estimate is in line with ACE ( and Counting Animals ( 400 lives/year vegan divided by 76000 lives/1000$= $5/year vegan. The latter is the marginal impact, which is slightly better than the average in the US: $50.000.000/year donations to vegan and animal farm organisations divided by 5.000.000 vegans= $10/year vegan. The offset price can increase in the future if it becomes more difficult to convert people to veg*nism (if the low hanging fruit of meat eaters is already converted)

Comment author: stijnbruers 22 September 2016 09:25:04PM 2 points [-]
Comment author: stijnbruers 11 August 2016 06:44:29PM 0 points [-]

There has been made another estimate of DALY/ton CO2: (Goedkoop M. e.a. (2009). ReCiPe 2008. A life cycle impact assessment method which comprises harmonised category indicators at the midpoint and the endpoint level. Report I: Characterisation. Ministry of Housing, Spatial Planning and Environment, the Netherlands.) The result is about 0,0014 DALY/ton CO2 (page 31 table 3.7), which is 10 times higher than the WHO and Haydens Giving what we can estimates. What explains this difference?