Designing an Ideal Utilitarian Welfare Scale

BLUF: I formalize my conception of an ideal utilitarian welfare scale here and state why I think total, non-negative, act, hedonic utilitarianism is right.Epistemic Status: This is in very philosophical territory, so I am still very uncertain this is true. Future qualia research could definitely upend this. However, I believe this scale is currently the… Continue reading Designing an Ideal Utilitarian Welfare Scale

Counterfactual People Are Important

BLUF: The moral weight of future counterfactual people is a massive, yet neglected, variable in the abortion debate. In my opinion, accounting for this variable virtually solves the abortion debate at the societal, should-it-be-legal level. When looking at the morality or desirability of abortions, many people claim, "if my sibling with X-serious-disability were aborted, then… Continue reading Counterfactual People Are Important

Our Obligation to Add Beings to the World

Bryan Caplan brings up some solid points in his post, "Where are the Pro-Life Utilitarians?"Β  I still am inclined to feel that abortions are ethically permissible the majority of the time, but I obviously need to formalize my intuitions, look more closely at this, and possibly change my position if the cost-benefit analysis is clear… Continue reading Our Obligation to Add Beings to the World

Welfare Stems from Fundamental Physics

It's pretty clear that our subjective experiences stem from activities going on in the brain.Β  You can even test this out by physically altering the brain in various ways, and its owner will report different subjective experiences. Consider, for instance, a concussion: damage to the brain can lead to memory loss, vision impairment, pain, and… Continue reading Welfare Stems from Fundamental Physics

Our Responsibility to Reduce Personal Risk

Insofar as the {expected value of the world with us alive} minus {the expected value of the world with us dead} is positive, we have an obligation to remain alive.Β  Therefore, it is unethical to bear personal risks of death when the expected benefits of doing so do not outweigh the expected marginal benefit of… Continue reading Our Responsibility to Reduce Personal Risk

We Should Have Prevented Other Countries from Ever Obtaining Nukes

Ever since nuclear weapons fell into the hands of the USSR and other countries beyond the United States, human civilization has been under tremendous risk of extinction. For decades now, the Doomsday clock has ticked perilously close to midnight; we continue to flirt with disaster which could strike once any nuclear leader falls into a… Continue reading We Should Have Prevented Other Countries from Ever Obtaining Nukes

Special Obligations Don’t Exist, but they are Useful Heuristics

Utilitarianism implies our obligation is to maximize net well-being.Β  We should be willing to donate to whatever charities do the most good; these charities may not necessarily help those in our local community.Β  What then of social, local, special obligations? Doesn't a parent have a special obligation to their child? Ought we to follow through… Continue reading Special Obligations Don’t Exist, but they are Useful Heuristics

Possible Moral Trade Implementation

I've been thinking about Toby Ord's Moral Trade paper, and think a new Repledge website, which helped facilitate moral trade, is a desirable thing, legal questions aside. Here's the idea (edited with my own takes) for those unfamiliar: Create a website where people can donate to a cause, but where if someone else donates to… Continue reading Possible Moral Trade Implementation

Experience Machines Support Ethical Hedonism

Suppose there was an experience machine that would give you any experience you desired. Super-duper neuropsychologists could stimulate your brain so that you would think and feel you were writing a great novel, or making a friend, or reading an interesting book. All the time you would be floating in a tank, with electrodes attached… Continue reading Experience Machines Support Ethical Hedonism