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Link: The Openness-Equality Trade-Off in Global Redistribution

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Population ethics in practice

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A strange implication of critical-level utilitarianism

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Recent Comments

I don't see how you can distinguish the two? For a ethical belief that has direct practical implications (e.g. "eating animals is bad"), you can accuse someone of being hypocritical by pointing out that they don't actually act that way (e.g. they eat a lot of meat). But the repugnant conclusion isn'...(read more)

What about the cost of pain from the flu shot? Based on my past experiences (all from childhood, so maybe not that accurate for me now), I would be willing to pay $20-$50 to avoid the pain from a shot. I also didn't find the flu that unpleasant, so I might only be willing to pay $120-150 to avoid it...(read more)

I assumed that the effect of the intervention is "small enough relative to the world" for your population ethics to be smooth. For average utilitarianism in particular, this corresponds to the percentage change in population being small. In your scenario, this isn't true, since there are only 2 peo...(read more)

Controlling his mental behaviors would either be changing his preferences or giving him another option. For judging whether he is behaving irrationally, shouldn't his preferences and set of choices be held fixed?

> I'm not sure where you're going with the "magic pill" hypotheticals, but I agree.

I meant that if someone is behaving irrationally, forcing them to stop that behavior should make them better off. But it seems unlikely to me that forcing him to stay in his current relationship forever, or preventi...(read more)

That might be the most cost-effective Plus option, actually - if you crudely model the cost of one extra birth as proportional to the child's future income, then diminishing marginal utility of income means that it's better to promote births in poorer countries (up to a point). The optimal income le...(read more)

I think this would almost certainly be more cost-effective than Plus+Minus if you were a government, but I'm not sure how easy or hard it would be for an individual to influence their government's immigration policy.

It's not obvious to me why small interventions should be reversible - can you explain? The fact that lives of type X (e.g. people born in a particular place) are cheap to create and prevent doesn't mean it should be done independent of your population ethics: if you think X-type lives are neutral, i...(read more)

Your utility=income suggestion doesn't work as such a canonical method in humans because utility isn't proportional to income.

I just meant that picking a value of u_0 is equivalent to picking a value of income ("y_0") such that u(y_0)=u_0.

> I'd expect that a woman surviving would lead to more kids, but not actually 2 more, and similarly a missing man wouldn't just be replaced by the nearest available sperm-producer. I dunno how to put a number to it.

One way to start estimating it would be to correlate local sex ratios with local bi...(read more)