A year in Effective Altruism: observations and criticisms (and tofu)
Jacob Funnell

Really good piece. The 2014 EA Survey, with all the usual caveats, found that 69% of respondents held a consequentialist viewpoint. I agree that it would be interesting to do some empirical work looking at the different forms of utilitarianism (and other moral theories), as well as meta-ethical beliefs (and different forms of the ‘same’ meta-ethical belief; for example, my intuition is that more there would be more Sidgwick-ian/Parfit-ian moral realists than Sam Harris-type moral realists, but perhaps I’m biased).

The extent to which there’s a “broad consensus” will also inform discussions about moral trade and co-operation. It seems to me, though, that it’s only the moral realists who can really say that there are reasons for other people to adopt the actions that they think will do the most good; at best, moral anti-realists can only hope that others come to adopt their opinion. There are certainly more EAs who care about things like wild-animal suffering, but it’s very unclear whether the proportion of EAs who care about these things has increased, decreased or stayed roughly the same.

I think the ‘weird’ cause-areas are getting more publicity within the EA community now, even if they’re still not being advertised much to outsiders (though Singer does talk about intrinsic value of nature, wild-animals and so on a bit in ‘The Most Good You Can Do’)

Incidentally, whether or not EA should advertise its more ‘weird’ cause-areas might depend on whether one thinks that EA will be net-positive or net-negative in the long-run. I know that some EAs are fairly skeptical about whether EA actually will do more good than harm.

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