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Effective altruism is not the same as utilitarianism, but it is certainly based on it. How else would you call trying to maximize a numeric measure of cumulative good?

This is incorrect. Effective altruism is applying rationality to doing good (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Effective_altruism). It is not always maximizing. For example you could be EA and not believe you should ever actively cause harm (ie you would not kill one person to save 5). It does require quantifying things, as much as making any other rational decision requires quantifying things.

I think I've already responded in the parent comment.

No you have not. You have expressed criticisms of things EAs do. The OP expressed lots of criticisms too but still actively endorses EA. I ask mainly because I agree with many of your criticisms, but I still actively endorse EA. And I wonder at what point on the path we differ.

This sort of mixed messaging is exactly what I was objecting too

Firstly could you elaborate on how what I said differs from what Will has said please. I am fairly sure we both agree with what EA is.

You're a CEA employee

Incorrect although I do volunteer for them in ways that help spread EA.

Effective altruism is based on a form of total utilitarianism

This is not true (and incidentally is a pet peeve of mine). I know plenty of EAs who are not utilitarian EAs. Most EAs I know would dispute this (at least in conversation on the EA facebook group there appears to be a consensus that EA ≠ utilitarianism).

I am curious as to what makes you (/anyone) think this. Could you enlighten me?

I do NOT endorse effective altruism

This statement also interests me too. What do you mean that you do not endorse EA?

  • Are you referring to the idea of applying reason/rationality to doing good?
  • Are you saying that you do not support the movement or the people in it?
  • Do you simply mean that advocating EA just happens to be a thing you have never done?
  • Are you not altruistic/ethical?

1) As an EA I strongly resist any attempt to say that EA as utilitarianism as I would see doing so as harmful for the movement and it would exclude many of the non-utilitarian EAs I know.

Ea is not utilitarianism. There is no reason why you cannot apply rationality to doing good and be an EA and believe in Christian ethics / ethical anti-realism / virtue ethics / deontolgical ethics / etc. For example I have an EA friend who would never kill one person to save 5 people, but believes strongly that we should research and give to the very best charities and so on. I see the above point as unequivecal, insofar as I

2. I would or recognize as 'EA' actions and organizations that are ethical through ways other than producing welfare/happiness, as long as they apply rationality to doing good. EG. if someone truly believed in some Rawlesian concept of justice and supported a charity that best lead to that idea. HOWEVER

  • I have some arbitrarily ill-defined limits on what counts as good. Eg I would never except as an EA someone who believed that killing Jews is the good.
  • If I meet someone with a very strange view (Eg the best cause is saving snails) I would assume that they are being irrational rather than just had a different understanding of morality.

3. I think it is bad of CEA to push OP away on utilitarian grounds. That said I find it hard to conceive of any form of moral view that would lead someone to believe that the best action they could take would be to create a charity to promote promise-keeping, so I have some sympathy for CEA. (Also I would be interested to hear an elaboration of why a promise keeping charity is the best thing to do.)

Very good article - hopefully it will put me on path to a fulfilling and happy life. Excellent piece of work. :-)

Re: The correlates of happiness - my only quibble I was previously under the impression that health was a big correlate of happiness, at least at the same level as a successful relationships, etc. In both cases I think a sudden changes lead to corresponding unhappiness or happiness and that over time happiness will return to close to the initial levels. Curiously, in the health footnote you specifically claim look at the unhappiness of people with disabling health conditions, rather than the unhappiness of all unhealthy people, yet you talk about the happiness of all married people. It does not appear that you are comparing like with like. Maybe a point for further research.