John Stuart Mill and the future of Effective Altruism
Not everything is a moral problem
What the people talking about rationality or free debate have missed is basic common sense. By doubling down on their philosophical beliefs, they have forgotten the context of the wider world. As Rohit Krishnan said on the EA forum, “For anything more than turning money into malaria nets, you need people to trust you. And that includes trusting your intentions and your character.” What Bostrom or anyone else thinks about the current state of research into these questions is irrelevant when you are apologising for making racist remarks.
From my article about Nick Bostrom, which Ian Leslie kindly published in The Ruffian. Also this:
That many in Effective Altruism have forgotten that we have to “balance the claims of a variety of goods” is nowhere more evident in the response to Bostorm’s apology. EAs could learn this lesson from one of the great Utilitarians, John Stuart Mill. Mill’s work is a somewhat neglected corner of Utilitarianism that needs to be revived. In 1983, John Gray wrote a superb book called Mill on liberty: a defence in which he created a new name for Mill’s theory: indirect utilitarianism. Mill did not have, as the EAs do, a touchstone of “doing the most good” to guide his life. Rather, he lived in a state of enquiry and development, investing in three areas of life: morality (what is right), prudence (what is expedient), and aesthetic (what is noble or beautiful). The last two of those criteria often seem to be missing in Effective Altruism.
Read the whole thing here.
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