John, thanks so much this was very enlightening for 2 reasons:
- It helps to know there’s diversity and debate within the EA community. Reading Singer’s book, it doesn’t feel that way, and so led to a very strong, visceral reaction from me
- You actually made some good points!
Petroleum engineering: interesting, didn’t know that. It may also be more hazardous so salary might be higher? Anyway, regardless, it’s a fair point that convincing no one to take that job is nigh impossible. It’s also equally fair to think on the margin and realize that probably not everyone will take that job (and then give as if they were EAs). I agree with you that it’s important to look at your individual context and think about this decision by asking where could you marginally make a better impact. Again I think what I found fault with was that in Singer’s book, there seems to be no acknowledge of this… the answers seem clear as night and day regardless of situation.
Quantification: I agree that an effort should be made. I think Singer doesn’t even try when it comes to ecosystem services, which was disturbing to me. I think where I may disagree with others is the degree to which an effort should be made (albeit I don’t have enough thought into this to draw concrete lines myself).
Time scales: The museum example was arguably pretty bad for this. I think the ecosystem services one is more apropos, in which case again it disturbed me that this entire category of risks/ benefits was seemingly discounted away.
Again, really appreciate your taking the time to write this and push the debate. I’m happier knowing that people are critically evaluating EA, rather than just following blindly whatever Singer may say.