Dunno, I see Effective Altruism self-importance = confusion

Givewell first writes:

Thinking of all beliefs as being open to change, and therefore potentially worthy of debate and analysis. Effective altruists research and debate a broad range of topics…

Then down a couple paragraphs…

We take a different view: we believe that [philosophical] questions like these, important though they may be, often aren’t amenable to tangible progress through further investigation. We prefer to focus our resources on questions that combine “importance” with “tractability to further investigation.”

Basically, some things they know without research… alternatively, a very pompous way of saying, “Hey, we don’t know, but we think we’re being pretty pragmatic, and we can’t know everything…”

I’ve got nothing against the “movement” even as it turns into a kind of pompous dogma.  But I bristle because reading Aya de Yopougon and supporting small community libraries in rural Africa… probably isn’t ever going to get on the effective altruist radar.  I think it is a good thing to do, but frankly I am not going to spend a lot of time trying to convince others to that effect. A little time, but not a lot of time.  I, and they, are not “good” only when we share an overriding imperative to “save lives.”  That is an almost ludicrous starting point for an honest appreciation of one’s life.  Consider  Nozick… a very well-respected, well-published philosopher… did he ever arrive at “saving lives” as the overriding principle of someone’s life?  So his “research” disagrees with GiveWell’s “belief”… now what?  Are they really going to argue that “new philosophical research” demonstrates the correctness of their core beliefs? Huh?

via Effective Altruism | The GiveWell Blog.

About mkevane

Economist at Santa Clara University and Director of Friends of African Village Libraries.
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