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NikhilVenkatesh

Philosopher @ London School of Economics
62 karmaJoined May 2024Working (0-5 years)

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The downvoting is good. On any other forum that was close to 80% leftists, though, I would expect zero eugenicists and a majority in sympathy with a pretty broad description of socialism. I'm not saying this post deserves more sympathy - I'm saying the survey results still seem strange to me

Agree with your first two paragraphs (I do see a lot of altruism in non-EA communities, too, but EAs are surely towards the top end!). But by 'altruism' I don't just mean giving away money, so it doesn't necessarily track means. And by 'different social conditions' I don't simply mean people being more prosperous. There's a load of ideology and incentives that could be changed.

On the second point again: it seems like almost 30 people have commented on this post so far. Only 2, as far as I can tell, are sympathetic to socialism. The same number have made eugenicist arguments against me. This is kind of hard to reconcile with the survey numbers.

The point about EA only requiring a small number of unselfish people is quite right and I actually write about these sorts of dilemmas elsewhere. (https://philpapers.org/rec/VENIAS)

One thing I'd say in this context, though, is that if the case against socialism is: "Well, a small minority can be trusted to have less selfish motivations, but the general public can't - and we're in the small minority" - this starts to look like a kind of elitism that the left often worries about EA encapsulating.

If EAs can do it, why think that (especially under different social conditions) most people couldn't? This would require some thought that EAs are special, which, given the elite, white, rich, etc. skew of EA is a worrying one.

I think this is all really fair. I don't have time to pursue these things much further right now, but I will try to circle back to this. Thanks for the thorough engagement!

Very fair points. 

I'm taking socialism to be a movement as much as an end-state - a movement towards a more altruistic economy. The interpretation of the historical economic evidence is of course very controversial. What I hope to do (and where my expertise lies) is give an a priori case that we should expect some kind of socialism to be good, on the kind of metrics EA endorses.

The point about leftists in EA is interesting. I knew the figures skewed left but it's greater than I recalled. I guess what I see is people who are EA and, say, vote for Bernie Sanders, but not so much people whose EA work itself engages with socialist thought or movements. That's where I think we could move the dial.