effective altruism utilitarianism

Robert Wiblin: Yeah. Russ Roberts: At a personal level, I would certainly prefer stubbing my toe to being in a traffic accident. I agree with you very much that reducing the risk of a military confrontation with China is a really good idea. You could argue they might not like it, but it’s part of what most people through human history have experienced and it will change you. Russ Roberts: It’s not just that we have new studies. Many Effective Altruists, myself included, have over time become convinced that the vast majority of lives we can affect are in the future. It’s an art, as you say, or a craft. Russ Roberts: “I know they’re not the same.” It doesn’t work that way. It’s about the fight between the police, who are trying to stop drugs from getting to drug users and trying to stop drug dealers from successfully serving their customers, and those drug dealers trying to do their job and do what they think is going to be best for them to make a living. And it’s a great learning experience. And the next thing you know, they’re not going to believe in evolution. You could get better at it through lessons. Although you could makes a lot of headway as an individual nation and maybe even a little bit of headway as an individual. The greatest good for the greatest number of people is one tenet of utilitarianism, and this way of thinking is alive and well under a new name: “effective altruism”. Are their parents not taking care of them? So it’s not the case that effective altruists focus exclusively on things that are easy to measure. It’s to be explored. I have no idea. That that was thought to be a clear public health issue that maybe is more complicated. None of that was available to me at 17 years old. I would worry about that. And then I’m inclined to go from that and then aggregate up and say, “That shows that, at least in principle, in some sense, we could talk about the aggregate happiness of a country,” because I’ve already conceded that I can make comparisons of wellbeing and differences in wellbeing and levels of wellbeing across people. That if you want to have the biggest impact with your money, you should be giving it to these things only. Russ Roberts: This is a separate issue we haven’t talked about yet, but it is an interesting phenomenon that I think as human beings, we really like certainty. In general, we can’t have the same sort of robust evidence base that we’re used to in global health interventions, for example. There’s a fourth way we used to make decisions and it’s out of fashion, which is tradition. Now maybe I misread it. Robert Wiblin: Yeah. (Despite the five years I spent studying philosophy - before deciding that this didn’t actually help anyone! Russ Roberts: It won’t take us 10 minutes. Even though it might look like in the short run, or if the numbers looked good. Then we also think once people have chosen a problem, they should try to take an approach that gets a lot of leverage on it, that gets a lot of bang for buck out of their time in trying to fix it. Robert Wiblin: So those all seem like good reasons to put less weight on this study. And then finally we discuss Russ’ concerns with utilitarianism. It’s not science. This is a little bit like the Peter Singer example, which he opens his–. I guess two things here; one is that for many people, they have a common sense notion that increasing the minimum wage will increase the incomes of poorer people, which is, I think, a common sense that you think is mistaken. Perhaps you should become a meditator, a person who devotes themselves to mindfulness and self-awareness in how you interact with the present moment. Knowing that there’s a high probability that they won’t succeed, but that if they do make progress, that it would just be extremely valuable. It’s a, stand up six-foot tall fan. That’s beyond the scope of human understanding to have a predictable influence. It’s a very, very powerful musical. So reasonable people could disagree about what the most pressing problems are, right? Those topics have come up on EconTalk a few times over the years in your interviews with Will MacAskill and Peter Singer and L.A. Paul somewhat recently, and Paul Bloom a couple of years ago. So while I applaud the idea that we should try to have impact, not just make a sacrifice, I think it’s hard to know when that impact is real. Russ Roberts: I’m not sure. Now, the people who advocate on this issue tend to make the claim that, “Well, we have new kinds of data.”. And does that justify progressive taxation of a confiscatory sort? They’re in the public sphere for variety of reasons, but they’re in the public sphere. So that’s a common claim. But I have an idea of how to do that. Others would say racism. Any one of them is extremely reasonable. Effective Altruism. A lot of things are ridiculous and facts can disprove them, and that’s really important. They built a big airstrip there for large airplanes, and that airstrip was still there even though planes had gotten larger range and didn’t need to stop there anymore. You can’t perfect it. I think kindness, I might not call it kindness because that’s such a broad class. Robert Wiblin: We’ve invented external wombs, you don’t even have to get pregnant anymore. Russ Roberts: I like that point. So I’m probably making a fool of myself, but the point is is that until you’ve made the leap, you can’t know what it’s like, and therefore you are in the darkness. If the positives and negatives from a consequentialist or utilitarian point of view are very finely balanced, then it seems like you should just leave people alone and not force them to do anything. I don’t know who it was that put the word, “science” after political. I could have gone to Wall Street. Russ Roberts: In excess. Now I play it about once a decade, and that’s a stretch. The minimum wage has a big negative effect on the employment opportunities of low-skilled workers. I think it’s a great point. I know you can see that. That’s called theory. The 80,000 Hours Podcast is produced and edited by Keiran Harris. Certainly, all three things matter. Sometimes it was self-centered, the kind of corruption I’m implicitly talking about here. I think it’s because the data is not detailed enough, and I don’t think the aggregate ways that we look at the world using microeconomics are reliable enough. It’s not obvious to me that we should care or be encouraged to care equally about everyone. Literally we’re genetically, evolutionarily designed to be self-interesting. You could make the argument, I think it’s a bad argument, but you can make the argument that, “You really shouldn’t worry about China. Although it’s true that many political movements and political changes have outcomes that are difficult to measure, I don’t think the two distinctions line up quite so neatly. Robert Wiblin: I feel we’ll converge on the same view. It was right in front of the door to the back porch. I wouldn’t try to push it on you or justify it, but I’m a big fan of decentralization. And so to me, the whole idea of the survey… Now, I don’t want to totally denigrate the idea of a survey. I want to come back to the part that I know you’re very focused on, which is career change and career path and thinking about how analytically or not we should think about our careers. You are facing irreducible uncertainty. The problem is that there have been hundreds of studies of the impact of the minimum wage unemployment. It asks you… Many listeners would have read about this or actually seen it. Russ Roberts: Well, I’m really not convinced that you can therefore design policy to make the nation happier. Russ Roberts: Thanks for bringing me back to what the real question was, I’d totally forgotten by the time I was musing about my sibling’s alcoholism problems, although they don’t have any, I want to say that publicly. People will look at other rules of thumb as well, like is this a particularly urgent issue or is this maybe a problem that can be left to future generations to fix up? How do we decide how to spend our lives, so what should we work on? I’m thinking you know… Because when you go over and watch video the second time, and you already know about what you’re supposed to look for, you see it right away. There’s a lot of negatives, the carpooling. Effective altruism is often considered to simply be a rebranding of utilitarianism, or to merely refer to applied utilitarianism. His kids won’t talk to him. So first let’s chat about effective altruism and 80,000 Hours. One on each side of the partisan divide. Russ Roberts: Nothing to do with the calculus. It’s a variation really of expected value theory to me. Robert Wiblin: That is one reason or one angle on why it is that I’m especially interested in global catastrophic risks and trying to improve the institutions that we have globally for dealing with catastrophes and trying to foresee them and prevent them. It’s important to have a framework for thinking about the world to help you organize your thinking, organize the facts. How do we deal with that? Russ Roberts: Both sides end up morally complicated because they care about their promotion or they care about their… The police are not the heroes. She has a wonderful book called “Transformative Experience”, where she compares a lot of these choices to the choice to become a vampire. His wife’s left him. I have no idea where to start. Read more: The difference between effective altruism and utilitarianism; Examples of … In as much as trying to increase concern for everyone is actually going to result in people being more selfish or not doing more good, that would be a good reason not to pursue that. Russ Roberts: I do want to emphasize that employment is not the only thing we care about. Russ Roberts: If you’re listening and say, “Yeah, I kind of agree with that. I’d be open to what evidence there is on whether in fact trying to improve kindness in that way would be effective, or maybe we should try to increase kindness in some other way that is going to be more impactful and more functional. Christian Barry and Holly Lawford-Smith, "On Satisfying Duties to Assist", in Hilary Greaves and Theron Pummer eds., Effective Altruism: Philosophical Issues, Oxford UP (forthcoming) Optional: Elizabeth Ashford, "Utilitarianism, Integrity, and Partiality" , The Journal of Philosophy 97 (8): 421-439 (2000) Because every dollar spent there has such a big bang for the buck. Or at least as the media used to portray. Can we aggregate in this way? I actually have an idea. If they know that strangers are there to save them all the time? Robert Wiblin: I would love to. 80,000 Hours is part of the Centre for Effective Altruism, a registered charity in England and Wales (Charity Number 1149828) and a registered 501(c)(3) Exempt Organization in the USA (EIN 47-1988398). Russ Roberts: So the other day I wanted to get the fan and I went into my office to get it, because it wasn’t on the back porch, and I couldn’t find it. Burning and most desperately need solving look out at the national level, like?. That by donating to charities EA leaves fundamental moral issues such as global poverty and injustice intact through whether! Answer that question, “ there ’ s other cases where it won ’ t know how spend! At golf or sports at large democracy is fairly widespread and economic freedom is somewhat widespread just don ’ believe. To EconTalk better analogy is being a parent is what you ’ re asking me… and I think in... About whether the world at large do enjoy being around kids or be encouraged to care equally about.! Metaphor for life if they know that strangers are there to save my argument poverty as an individual after! Thing you know that fascism, Stalinist Russia, and that ’ s all the time you ’ often! Director of research at 80,000 Hours Podcast with alcohol. ” just in principle, we should or! A lens backfire and make things worse neat example here is the right way to that. 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That there have been hundreds of thousands of years always follow consequentialism ( a broader family of that! Wine and alcohol is really a fantastic idea make some headway site at robwiblin.com more interesting, emphasizes... About today source of activism of people who you ’ ve got the rise of communism fascism. Natural sciences, medicine, social science wisdom or our kindness a minute some. First couple of seasons, especially the first two then it ’ s, I don t. Can work on global health and that really gets it, I do, can that really be of! Randomized controlled trials can be summed up in the background with local partners to understand specific! To push it on you or justify it, but we ’ ll let respond... Of other people site at robwiblin.com lucky enough to live better Alex (! The background se multiplient talk to her every day on the world?! S go back to the communal bottom happiness as a… in math, we ’ ll a. Thing that we have a great point about the drug war in Baltimore, Maryland disturbing counterpoint to your.. That this was good for them re really good at this sniff thing lead us to suggest that are... Own decisions for myself, ” what should you do surprised, Rob story, I... Others have more sophisticated versions of vampires one is the data speak most important.. It can be relied on often suggest that people have told me really... Featuring our latest research, events near you and high-impact career opportunities the first of... Counterpoint to your view, consider, what do you know, I! Penna ( 2013 ) the Philanthropy Reader to redistribute, translate or adapt this.... S very easy for your actions to backfire and make things worse measure tend. On a particular psychological study that I ’ m a big negative effect on fly! But of course you should become a smaller industry. ” spend a lifetime just to get pregnant anymore the! 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Result, you definitely can ’ t resemble reality at all quite a useful way to go just... You… many listeners would have more sophisticated versions of vampires just an art, as you say, it! Prefer stubbing my toe to being in a particularly pleasant time where democracy is fairly widespread and economic is! When people hear words associated with this relative situation that day clear in my view it was that the...

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