A lot was already said already about the FTX scandal and how fraud is unacceptable in the service of EA causes , and critique was thrown around about how perhaps utilitarian arguments drove SBF to pursue these alleged actions. EA is even getting blamed for this on the media (The Guardian).

While I can't read SBF's mind, and can't say whether he justified fraud to himself on utilitarian grounds, I do find it quite curious that EA is so strongly associated with Utilitarianism, both from the outside and within the community.

Because the truth is, EA was never about maximizing a utility function. It's not about killing 1 person to save 5. It's about saving the 5. and 50, and 500 more. And you don't need to be a utilitarian to know that saving 500 people is a good thing to do.

Most people aren't utilitarian. But most people do think we are not doing nearly enough to reduce X-Risk, for us and for future generations. Most people aren't utilitarian, but they believe that if our current methods for doing good aren't working we should change them. 

Scope insensitivity is a bias, not a moral philosophy. Tell most people about it and they will tell you there is something to it. Likewise, EA is not about maximizing a utility function, but rather being aware of scope insensitivity and other biases, and to make sure that when we do good, we do it well.




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EA is not a monolith. There is no book that has the moral framework of EA written in stone. Some people in this community most certainly are utilitarians, others aren't. 

If you want to argue what a decentralized movement is, you need to define who gets included, and then a system for weighting each agent's values as a part of the whole. 

For instance, we might say, EA is composed of any agent who has attended an EAG. Then we might specify that what EA is "based in" is the weighted sum of each agent's values, where the weighting system is how many resources an agent controls.

What is "Effective Altruism" effective with respect to?

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