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Time and Location

This event will take place on the UW campus. We'll most likely be meeting in QNC 1506 or a classroom adjacent to it. Look for "KWRxEA" in large letters on the blackboard/whiteboard to see if you're in the right place.

Discussion will start at 7:30pm. There will be pizza.


This is the third and last joint event between KW Rationality and the UW Effective Altruism club for the Winter 2024 term. This week, we'll be reading some unconventional positions on animal welfare from effective altruists. The goal is something like - better understanding the animal welfare project as a whole, by kicking the tires on the edge cases.

Please note that the readings have fairly explicit text and image depictions of animal suffering. I've done my best to provide adequate content warnings, but if you find discussion of animal suffering to be very distressing, this meetup may not be for you and you might want to just catch us at the next one.

Possible discussion questions:

  1. What is your current stance on and extent of support for animal welfare cause areas? More broadly, what is inside and outside of your "moral circle" currently? How did the readings challenge or reinforce your existing views on animal welfare, if at all? 
  2. If we accept the argument that we should expand our moral circle to include a wider range of sentient beings, what practical changes, if any, should we make in our personal lives and as a society? How might this affect our dietary choices, consumer habits, political priorities, and broader social norms around the treatment of animals?
  3. Effective altruists often prioritize cause areas based on importance, neglectedness, and tractability. How do you think animal welfare, wild animal suffering, and shrimp welfare advocacy fares in terms of these criteria compared to other EA cause areas (the ~big ones being global health and poverty reduction, AI safety, nuclear disarmament, and pandemic prevention)?
  4. The idea of intervening in nature to reduce wild animal suffering is controversial, even among animal advocates. What are your intuitions about the desirability and feasibility of such interventions? If you had infinite energy and resources and a perfect understanding of biology and ecosystem dynamics, what do you think your ideal solution looks like?
  5. Tomasik argues that while we don't have sufficient knowledge or resources to work on wild animal suffering today, it's important to spread the meme so that if we ever end up staggeringly resource-rich and knowledgeable as a species, we will dedicate some resources to working on this issue. 
    a. How do you feel about this shape of argument, in general? 
    b. Do you know of any historical cases of communities/societies/nations acknowledging an issue that they don't feel like they can solve at their current technologica/wealth level? How did that go for them?
    c. Are there other memes that you think we should try to pass on?


The Case Against Speciesism - EA Handbook, 2020
An introduction to animal welfare.
content warnings: text descriptions of the mistreatment of animals

The Importance of Wild Animal Suffering - Brian Tomasik, 2015
The seminal work on wild animal suffering IIRC. This is a fairly long piece, and I think it's okay to skip the "How Wild Animals Suffer" section - that is the section that is also the most graphic.
content warnings: text descriptions of many ways that wild animals suffer. graphic imagery in the "How Wild Animals Suffer" section, and at the end of the article. all imagery can be avoided by accessing the PDF version of the article.

Are Shrimps Sentient? - Shrimp Welfare Project, 2022?
A short introduction to the question of shrimp sentience.
content warnings: text descriptions of shrimp farming practices, including bodily mutilations

Introducting Shrimp Welfare Project - Aaron Boddy and Andres Jimenez, 2021
Short summary of a new nonprofit focusing on bettering shrimp welfare in many small, practical ways.
content warnings: text descriptions of shrimp farming practices, including bodily mutilations


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