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First published in 2021. Revised in 2024. Readable as a standalone post. Chapter 6 in “Minimalist Axiologies: Alternatives to ‘Good Minus Bad’ Views of Value”.


A common objection to suffering-focused ethics is that it contradicts our practically prioritizing other pursuits, such as seeking enjoyable and enriching experiences. To respond, this chapter aims to show that even if we assume a purely suffering-focused view, it would still be wise to recognize the highly positive and often necessary roles that other things may have for reducing suffering. Suffering-focused views may value these other things for different reasons, but not necessarily any less in practice, than do other consequentialist views. Moreover, in order to resolve tradeoffs between seemingly positive values, we may find great clarity in unpacking their causal relations to the suffering of sentient beings. A focus on reducing suffering can thereby help make different values commensurable with each other, and hence be a way to ground a framework for value prioritization.

1. Introduction

Suffering-focused ethics is an umbrella term for moral views that place primary or particular importance on the prevention of suffering. Most views that fall into this category are pluralistic in that they hold that other things besides reducing suffering also matter morally.[1]

Most people agree that reducing intense suffering is important, other things being equal. When other things are not equal, we enter the realm of tradeoffs between values. And here it may seem as if suffering-focused views would override all other things at every opportunity to reduce suffering.

My aim in this chapter is to describe why this is not the case in practice, even if we assume a purely suffering-focused view that is ultimately concerned only with reducing suffering.

In this chapter:

  • I assume a monist view, in which only suffering has independent value (that is, ‘intrinsic disvalue’), and where other things can have positive value only by virtue of their tendency to reduce this negative value.
  • I use the term ‘other things’ to mean values such as:
    • Autonomy (6.3.1); maintaining stable ecosystems (6.3.2); cultural diversity (6.3.3).
    • Wellbeing and flourishing (6.4.1); overcoming challenges (6.4.2).
    • Exploration of helpful outlooks (6.4.3); growth and learning (6.4.4).
    • Depth and variety of experience (6.4.5); social relations (6.4.6).
    • Meaning and positive narratives (6.4.7).

In addition to the values mentioned above, there are also consequentialist defenses of other popular intrinsic values, such as rights and virtues, yet these are beyond the scope of this chapter.[2]

The next section will briefly describe how we might better intuitively appreciate the positive roles discussed in this chapter, namely by avoiding only seeing them through the potentially narrow lens of ‘instrumental value’.

2. Possible misconceptions about instrumental value

Below are some ways in which it might be counterproductive to think of various valuable things as “merely instrumental” in everyday life:

  • Misleading connotations of being used as a mere tool. The term ‘instrumental value’ may increase the likelihood that we would perceive the value of something or someone as “merely instrumental… merely a tool”, or as if they would have positive value and moral worth “only” by virtue of being “used” to serve the goals of others. These connotations are misleading in the context of impartial suffering-focused ethics, in which:
    • All beings are taken into primary consideration based on their capacity to suffer.
    • Beings and things alike can play positive roles for reducing suffering without anyone “using” them this way. Moreover, many beings and things can play highly positive roles for reducing suffering without anyone realizing it, and do so in ways that are a lot more systemic and far-reaching than the “direct-use” utility of what we often call a tool or instrument in everyday life.
    • Impartial instrumental value is ultimately about the overall benefit of all beings, not about serving some restricted subset of beings for whom everyone else should serve as a tool (cf. the misleading connotation of being used purely for the goals of others).
  • A second-rate, lesser kind of value. If we perceive a thing as “merely” instrumental, it may feel as if its value could at any time be overridden by a more important kind of value, namely by independent or intrinsic value. Yet this need not be true, since instrumental value is ultimately measured on the same scale as independent value or disvalue. After all, the positive roles of a thing are often greater than its independent moral weight.
    • For instance, sometimes learning experiences can entail great pains. Yet these learning pains are often dwarfed by their highly worthwhile positive roles, such as how they can help us grow into effective reducers of even greater pains.
  • Falsely thinking that we can readily grasp the full magnitude of its value. Appreciating the overall instrumental value of a simple tool like a hammer can already be a difficult task. It is much more difficult still to grasp the value of things that play positive roles in more complex, indirect, and systemic ways, such as the norms of nonviolence and a predictable respect for each other’s autonomy.
    • Even a theoretically monistic consequentialism implies that it is practically best to treat many of our culture’s widely held intrinsic values as valid moral heuristics to follow and respect — at least until they run into edge cases or conflicts with each other, at which point we may want to carefully unpack their roles under a common standard of value.

2.1 Better alternatives?

If we can avoid problems such as those above, it seems useful to continue using the term ‘instrumental value’. Alternatively, some of these problems may be easier to avoid if we instead think of this value in some other terms, such as extrinsic value, relational value, or positive roles. As an experiment in framing, I use the terms ‘relations’ and ‘roles’.

3. Life and diversity

Suffering-focused views may appear as if they would ignore or override values widely held to have almost sacred status, such as a general respect for personal autonomy, life, and ecosystems. However, a careful account of how to best reduce suffering in practice suggests that it would be self-defeating to seek to help others via means that go directly against such deeply and widely held principles and values, many of which are also quite aligned with reducing suffering to begin with.

3.1 Autonomy

Most of us have a strong need for making independent decisions: we want choice and predictability in our lives instead of being restricted or maneuvered by others. We easily perceive forceful limitations on our autonomy as being offensive or manipulative, which may be based on historically justified skepticism of anyone being able to handle our personal affairs better than we ourselves. Moreover, an unmet need for autonomy can by itself cause great suffering.[3]

In terms of motivating others to reduce suffering, probably the most effective strategy is to appeal to people’s own free choice rather than to use more forceful methods, whether they be forceful rhetoric or actual force. Beyond being less effective, such forceful methods also come with a greater risk of causing a harmful backlash.

When allowed to act freely, most of us are already interested in avoiding intense suffering for ourselves, and many will also make efforts to help or at least not harm others. Of course, sometimes we may exercise our autonomy in harmful ways. Yet this alone does not justify strict limitations on freedoms of speech, movement, or self-direction, as such limitations may cause far more suffering all things considered. For example, when the powerful allegedly “know better”, and power becomes corrupted, the result tends to be suffering for the masses.

Skepticism of top-down control may be the main reason to respect autonomy on any view, including suffering-focused views. Top-down control is often abused or impractical even if well-intentioned, which has led to the separation of powers within governments as a safeguard against power becoming concentrated in harmful ways.

A general degree of respect for individual autonomy may thus reduce suffering by upholding at least two important freedoms: (1) the freedom to protect our own interests and life plans from external mismanagement, and (2) the freedom to organize and speak up against perceived harmful developments, practices, or corruptions in society at large.

Because exceptions to these freedoms have historically been all too easy to abuse, it is arguably best to maintain a high and consistent standard of autonomy for all beings capable of informed choice. To the extent that autonomy is used to harm others, we can focus preventative measures on specific harmful actions instead of limiting autonomy as a whole. Many societies already address the downsides of high autonomy on such a case-by-case basis, without losing the upsides of high autonomy for preventing suffering.

Suffering-focused views…

  • … can justify many of the commonly accepted limits to autonomy. These may include cases of reduced capacity for informed choice (medical ethics)[4] or cases of protecting the public by preventing someone from severely harming others (criminal law)[5].
  • … support giving people the autonomy to contribute to the reduction of suffering as they best see fit, including developing their unique skills and gravitating to the roles that they are best suited for.
  • … can allow us the freedom to make mistakes, because this is often the lesser harm compared to the alternatives.

3.2 Ecosystems

Purely suffering-focused views can sound as if they are against life in principle. But practically speaking, their implications are more complex than that. To guide suffering-reducing action, we need to carefully account for the reality that we find ourselves in.[6]

Rather than ask whether we would wish that suffering beings had never evolved, it is more useful to consider how we can best help them from our current situation. And the current world can be complex, containing factors such as multiple interacting value systems and their dependence on stable ecosystems for most of their long-term goals, but also a lot of neglected wild animal suffering within those ecosystems.[7]

There are no simple answers to the question of how to best reduce wild animal suffering. Its scale and tractability depend on various moving parts, such as what values and political and economic forces will end up shaping the future. In a world where people hold diverging values, there are strong reasons to cooperate with others, because mutual conflict would probably lead to worse outcomes overall.[8] For example, conflict might nudge the long-term future into a more ruthless and competitive direction, hindering the progress of most long-term goals, including suffering-focused goals.[9]

Cooperating with others might be especially relevant when it comes to how we can best approach the problem of wild animal suffering. Arguably, a top priority for suffering-focused views is to promote peace and compromise so as to reduce the risks of astronomical suffering (s-risks) that could result from the worst forms of our civilization in the long term.[10] Thus, to the extent that stable ecosystems are necessary for a peaceful civilization, suffering-focused views would ideally seek agreement with others on how to best reduce the suffering of individual beings within existing ecosystems.[11] After all, a great many if not most moral views already imply that non-human animals matter morally, and that their suffering deserves serious consideration.[12]

Suffering-focused views…

  • … question the romanticized, sanitized view of nature as good and harmonious, especially since most of the animals living there endure fates much worse than what people would find acceptable for their pets or children.
  • … raise concern about even a small chance of spreading wild animal suffering onto other planets, as in certain futuristic terraforming scenarios.[13] This also applies to the creation of artificial suffering in the future, as well as to factory farming.
  • … benefit from cooperation among people who hold different values, since avoiding intense suffering is already a shared goal for most people, and maintaining peace may be a uniquely promising strategy for reducing risks of astronomical suffering in the long term.

3.3 Cultural diversity

Suffering-focused views may seem to be in tension with respect for cultural diversity. However, there are many good reasons for suffering-reducers to approach the world’s cultural diversity with curiosity and respect, including epistemic modesty as well as the recognition that many traditions may have developed time-tested ways to mitigate and relate to intense suffering that we may not know about.

For example, living traditions such as Buddhism and Jainism predate modern medicine by millennia in investigating how to actively reduce suffering, both for oneself and others, and science has only recently started to study the psychological and pro-social benefits of compassion and non-attachment.[14]

Cultural traditions may thus contain neglected wisdom for reducing suffering, and plausibly the best way to create helpful innovations in general is to combine the ideas found across diverse minds and cultures.

Moreover, any ethical view that aspires to universality, including impartial suffering-focused views, can value cultural diversity as a safeguard against the emergence of a harmful intellectual monoculture.[15] Diverse cultures can provide ideas and critiques that may be difficult to perceive from within a narrow cluster of views, due to each having their own biases and blindspots, which is all the more reason to engage in healthy dialogue with those who have different outlooks.

Suffering-focused views…

  • … can value different cultural practices based on the degree to which they might help prevent suffering, but would still be critical of harmful practices such as those that involve ritualized violence.
  • … can support a general respect for other cultures not only to maintain peace and cooperation, but also for the implicit adaptations of different cultures for reducing suffering that may still be poorly understood.
  • … may need the perspectives of various cultures for optimally reducing suffering across different contexts. For example, experimental psychology is still mostly based on participants from “WEIRD” cultures, casting doubt on whether its models will generalize to most of the world.[16] And probably no single culture contains all of humanity’s helpful insights for reducing suffering, which suggests a need to integrate insights between cultures.

4. Valuable experiences

An objection sometimes raised against suffering-focused views is that they seem to leave too little room for the valuable experiences in life, contradicting our everyday experience of what makes life worth living. Perhaps such a “negative focus” feels like a distraction from, or even a threat to, what one may see as more centrally important, such as growth, connection, or a sense of positive meaning. But suffering-focused views can imply that those things are important to prioritize for their positive roles for most effectively helping others.

4.1 Wellbeing as a resource

When we are under a lot of stress, it is easy to lose our balance and fall into a downward spiral. At the bottom, it can take years to restore our supportive daily habits and capacity for effective work. From a lifetime productivity perspective, severe burnout is very much worth avoiding, even at the seemingly high cost of emptying our calendar of all the short-term work that we maybe could squeeze in, but not in sustainable ways. This is particularly true when we are still young, as peak productivity tends to come later in life.[17]

The better our work-rest balance is on a daily basis, and especially in the long term, the more we can afford to work. And to work from day to day at all, we need to maintain a level of wellbeing that provides a safety margin against burning out. In other words, we want to continuously create distance from a downward spiral. Any uplifting or supportive experience can be a great way to create this distance.[18]

Thinking about suffering can be distressing. Most of us would rather fill our days with something more pleasant than imagining worst-case scenarios and how to avoid them. But suffering-reducers need the resilience to face these questions head-on. Many of our enjoyable experiences are effective ways to get our minds off these problems and replenish our ability to get back at solving them. Even if we do not consciously “use” these experiences as “mere tools” in this way, they can have these benefits anyway.

By frequently enjoying what we find replenishing, we can gather the skills, knowledge, and life experience to understand and apply the optimal effort that would best help others. And by maintaining a high level of personal wellbeing, we can sustainably apply ourselves to solve neglected problems for decades, without burning up our capacity to do so.[19]

Suffering-focused views…

  • … value personal wellbeing as an indicator of low personal suffering, and they can prioritize the creation of wellbeing as a way toward greater help in the long run, but purely suffering-focused views would not say that anyone’s wellbeing could by itself offset or counterbalance intense suffering elsewhere.
  • … are not about maximizing personal wellbeing or distance from burnout, but rather about optimizing these things for overall helpfulness. Contrary to motivated reasoning by our short-term pleasure-seeking parts, a life of optimal helpfulness may not always require high levels of momentary pleasure or excitement (though it can still have room for these things). Just like with money or any other resource, there is a point where our personal wellbeing is no longer the main limiting factor to what we can do, and so we can afford to help others while keeping a safe distance from burning out. This may also be a more reliable path to personal life satisfaction than to always focus on improving our personal wellbeing.
  • … are not about avoiding all personal suffering, but tolerating that which is worthwhile in order to best help reduce overall suffering. Sometimes the optimal path of maximal “net helpfulness” may contain great difficulties that require a large reserve of wellbeing to get through. Wellbeing is thus a key resource to focus on, but we also want to look out for opportunities to invest it in once we ourselves are in a healthy place from which we can help others.

4.2 Moving in the right direction

Most of us have no choice over our childhood environment or upbringing. By the time we develop a sense of agency and start thinking about global issues, it can feel overwhelming to realize that our deeply ingrained habits and lifestyles are indirectly causing a lot of suffering. Combined with an already busy life full of personal challenges, it can feel more painful than empowering to start reducing our reliance on habits and production chains that may be net harmful. Only the most fortunate get to choose their jobs and limit their consumption so as to minimize their suffering footprint for others.

However, there is positive value in any journey of overcoming our dependence on others’ suffering and toward becoming increasingly net helpful. Bit by bit, we can increase our degree of freedom and victory over harmful dependencies. With careful research, we may also identify amazing opportunities to reduce suffering that are available to us.

The more hopeless the situation, the more inspiring the example of turning it around or pushing through, even partially, for all the others who are facing similar challenges. Even if we do not make it all the way, we can still share our story, and others can continue with more guidance than we had, with a better view of the path going forward.

Suffering-focused views…

  • … do not mean that we should give up on our lives if they cause or contain a lot of suffering. In many cases, these are precisely the situations that countless others are also struggling with. There is value in first-hand exploration of the problems and in sharing even small wins that others may not know are possible.
  • … do not imply that we should bear anything in order to create inspiring survivor stories of overcoming and victory for others. After all, the “bottom line” is to reduce suffering instead of always clinging to dwindling hope that a cure for chronic and severe conditions will be just around the corner.[20]
  • … are context-sensitive regarding the options that may or may not be available in our life situation. There are no absolute demands of what we must achieve regardless of our health, wealth, or the environment we find ourselves in. But we can always do our best to steer the future into a direction of less suffering with the tools and options that we have. Everyone climbs their own way up the mountain, and even a partial path over difficult terrain can inspire others to find an easier way up from similar starting points.

4.3 Exploring helpful outlooks

We humans have the unique ability to actively develop and experiment with different ways of looking at suffering. Over time, many people have made good use of this ability, sometimes passing the resulting practices and outlooks on to future generations. Some time-tested outlooks can be found under traditions and philosophies such as Buddhism and Stoicism. Even many of our modern psychological tools for relating to suffering can be traced back to such traditions, and we may yet combine parts of them into still more useful or teachable outlooks than what are currently available.[21]

For the overall project of reducing suffering, it is worthwhile to spend time on finding the kind of open mindset that enables us to acknowledge our own and others’ suffering, and which best helps us reduce it over all time. For example, we want to build an outlook that helps us be mindful of the big picture instead of overreacting to whatever may seem like the totality in the here-and-now. With a large perspective, even apparent defeats and failures can be seen, not only in hindsight, but already in the present, as opportunities for growth whose time has come. As some Stoics say, the obstacle can become the way.

Suffering-focused views…

  • … value trying out different mindsets and developing the equanimity to face our difficulties, especially if mental resources might be a key bottleneck for our ability to help ourselves and others.
  • … may recommend humor, spontaneity, and flexibility in many situations as fitting ways to meet life’s challenges.[22]

4.4 Safe ways to learn

Even if we ultimately seek to reduce intense suffering for all beings, this does not require that we maintain a myopic focus and prioritize only those activities that would help others directly. A single-minded or Spartan life could leave too little room for the ways in which we spontaneously learn the most (and most effortlessly), such as through flow-states guided by feelings of immediate fulfillment. It might also leave too little room for activities and learning experiences that are only indirectly related to the goal of reducing suffering, even if they are in fact crucial in the bigger picture. After all, many activities can prepare us for challenging future tasks without containing any obvious reference to such tasks. Most of us learn social skills this way, never picturing what they might be useful for in ten years’ time. Many fundamental skills can similarly be learned through unguided exploration, pretend play, or games. To constantly hold our ultimate aim in mind will often distract us from optimally learning the skills on offer, including skills that may be necessary on the path of least suffering.[23]

Of course, at some point we need to directly learn about the reality of suffering and how we might best reduce it. Yet we might only need a brief sample of how bad it can get. After first learning that fire burns, we may coordinate our movements around it for the rest of our lives.

For high-level tasks that affect the lives of others, it is best to develop the relevant skills first in “safe mode” before we move on to more serious and consequential settings. High-stakes themes, such as philosophical, political, and social issues, are often best explored first in “low-stakes” sandbox environments, where we can get disproportionate learning value with few backfire risks. For example, while casual discussions or debates with friends may at first glance seem suboptimal from an impact-focused perspective, they may also be helpful stepping stones before we enter the high-stakes arenas, such as public discourse, where taking an actual stance can have broader consequences, for better and worse.

Suffering-focused views…

  • … can value open-ended exploration (to a degree), because learning is often most efficient when guided by feelings of intrinsic motivation and curiosity.
  • … would not value endless learning or recreation purely for its own sake. After all, at some point, it becomes worthwhile to focus our attention on the high-stakes issues, and to prioritize actively finding ways in which we can best apply our knowledge and skills to nudge the world in a better direction.

4.5 Understanding others

To navigate effectively in the world, we may need to increase not only our knowledge and technical know-how, but also our own range of experiences and perspectives. Otherwise, we may in many cases fail to empathize with the central needs and aspirations of others.

For example, it is valuable for suffering-reducers to understand the most universal human experiences driving much of our behavior. These include the ups and downs of social status; the dynamics of attachment and bonding; and our needs for autonomy, competence, and relatedness.

Psychological and social dynamics may be the main factors that determine which messages and strategies for reducing suffering will be well-received and politically realistic to implement. Thus, it is valuable for agents of change to understand the needs and incentives that determine which practical measures for reducing suffering can be adopted in the real world.

Suffering-focused views…

  • … value psychological exploration and empathy, which generally grow our capacity to understand and help both ourselves and others.
  • … may be surprisingly supportive of fictional works, such as realistic or thought-provoking novels, as well as nonfiction works about key social and historical topics. After all, such sources may be safe ways to learn about real-world social patterns without getting us entangled in actual drama.[24]

4.6 Community and connectedness

A lot of common and prolonged suffering could be avoided if people had close friendships, or at least didn’t feel so alienated or frustrated with their social environment. Moreover, a big part of the willingness to even consider the needs of others in the first place may come from a social norm to reciprocate or pay forward the support that we have experienced from others.

If people have strong unmet needs of their own, they may not find it emotionally appealing to serve a universal cause such as the reduction of suffering. At worst, they might actively cause more suffering, perhaps out of frustration or a lack of meaningful experiences with others.

Thus, a valuable part of reducing suffering is to foster the preventative and empowering effects of increasing community and connectedness in society. This could help more people feel like they’re at home in our world, and that they can afford to care about the needs of others.

Another reason why a sense of community is important is that it can help facilitate complex coordination. For example, to identify the most promising interventions for reducing suffering, we will need to combine insights from a wide variety of fields. To make this happen, we need to create and maintain an interdisciplinary network that is willing to spend many decades learning how to best reduce suffering. And a sense of community is likely vital for holding such multi-decade efforts together.

Suffering-focused views…

  • … value the beneficial effects that can stem from experiences of community and connectedness, both individually and in society at large. Experiences of connection may be a precondition for our wellbeing, enabling us to care about and effectively serve the needs of others.
  • … highlight the importance of preventing complex social problems from becoming entrenched while we still can. A prime example of this may be social dissatisfaction, as deeply ingrained feelings of anger or loneliness can lead to self-reinforcing patterns where we blame everything on others and discount each other’s suffering. At worst, the suffering of others may come to be seen as desirable, even if there once was a desire for connection.
  • … may recommend creating and inviting people into communities focused on reducing suffering, embodying sentiments of a collective project, such as: “Let’s work together to reduce suffering.”[25]

4.7 Meaning and motivation

Many paths can lead one to suffering-focused ethics. Only some of the paths are based on a sense of duty or obligation to prevent the worst experiences. Other paths can arrive at the same goal of reducing suffering through a more positive or hopeful sense of what our lives are worth living for, even in the face of extreme adversity.

One common positive motivator is a sense of expanding care or compassion for all sentient beings. Many of us feel compassion and an urge of caretaking toward ourselves and loved ones. The same tendency of caretaking can shrink or grow, based on our capacity to consider the needs of others together with our own. At the limit, we may see alignment with suffering-focused ethics as a way of living for compassion: a life aimed at helping sentient beings as much as we can, and feeling as satisfied as possible with how we spent our time.

Another positive motivation is to live for a maximally just, fair, or beautiful world. We may recognize that any instance of extreme, involuntary suffering, no matter when, where, and by whom it is experienced, means that we are nowhere close to such a heavenly world. We may feel that the best way to work for the ideal of a “heaven on earth” is to reduce hell, by sparing as many beings as possible from having to experience the unbearable.

Suffering-focused views…

  • … are not necessarily “all negative”, even if suffering itself mostly is. By focusing on experiences of care, compassion, justice, ease, or lightness, we can bring together even those parts of ourselves that are motivated by a positive vision of what we’re living for.
  • … can acknowledge that suffering itself can also have upsides; after all, our personal suffering can give us great clarity, direction, and motivation for how to be useful to others.
  • … can give meaning to our lives, especially given that we are in a rare and privileged position from which we can help beings who are unable to help themselves. At moments of despair, we may feel the root problem of involuntary suffering common to all sentient beings, and push ahead for the benefit of all beings. To conclude, even secular helpers may find meaning in 8th-century Buddhist philosopher Shantideva’s words: “As long as space endures, as long as sentient beings remain, until then, may I too remain and dispel the miseries of the world.”[26]


Special thanks to Magnus Vinding for help with editing.

I am also grateful for helpful comments by Riikka Ajantaival, Tobias Baumann, Timothy Chan, Eleos Arete Citrini, Anthony DiGiovanni, James Faville, Simon Knutsson, Jonathan Leighton, and Brian Tomasik.


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  1. ^

    Gloor, 2016, bold emphasis mine.

  2. ^

    For sources that present suffering-focused defenses of rights, see Vinding, 2022g, pp. 79–80. For a suffering-focused defense of virtues, see Vinding, forthcoming, chap. 9, “Cultivating and Adhering to Virtues”.

  3. ^

    On the strength and universality of a need for autonomy, see Yu et al., 2018.

  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^
  8. ^

    Cf. Tomasik, 2013b2014a; Vinding, 2020e.

  9. ^

    Cf. Baumann, 2020b.

  10. ^

    Baumann, 2017b. For a book-form introduction by the same author, see Avoiding the Worst: How to Prevent a Moral Catastrophe (2022).

  11. ^

    Cf. Tomasik, 2013a, “Global stability”.

  12. ^

    Animal Ethics, 2020.

  13. ^

    Tomasik, 2014b.

  14. ^

    Seppälä et al., 2017; Whitehead et al., 2018.

  15. ^

    On monoculture as a possible problem within the effective altruism community, cf. Kuhn, 2013, “Monoculture”.

  16. ^

    Henrich, Heine, & Norenzayan, 2010a. The acronym stands for Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich, and Democratic.

  17. ^

    Todd, 2023.

  18. ^

    See also Leighton, 2017, “wellbeing”, “renew”.

  19. ^

    For additional resources on sustainable activism, see Vinding, 2017; forthcoming, “Reducing Extreme Suffering in Healthy Ways”.

  20. ^

    For more on euthanasia from an impartial suffering-focused perspective, see, for instance, Vinding, 2022g, p. 205.

  21. ^

    Shapiro & Weisbaum, 2020; Cavanna et al., 2023.

  22. ^

    For more on humor as a virtue in the context of reducing suffering, see Vinding, forthcoming, sec. 9.11, “Humor and Optimism”.

  23. ^

    Cf. the book Why Greatness Cannot Be Planned: The Myth of the Objective by Stanley & Lehman, 2015.

  24. ^

    Cf. Mumper & Gerrig, 2017; Dodell-Feder & Tamir, 2018.

  25. ^

    As expressed in a tweet by psychologist Paul T. P. Wong, twitter.com/PaulTPWong/status/1392966664803831814.

  26. ^

    Gyatso, 2002, p. 125. For more on Shantideva, see Goodman, 2016. For more on the alignment between meaning, motivation, and reducing suffering, see Compassionate Purpose: Personal Inspiration for a Better World (Vinding, forthcoming).

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