Skip to main content


Showing posts from November, 2017

My Two Mental Habits

Here's a quick, not very clear worry I am entertaining this morning. We are all prone to confirmation bias, especially when it comes to politics. Of course, I, being a lefty, think that while I am obviously prone too, I am not nearly as prone as most Tories. Still, I need to be vigilant (after all, those Tories think the same about me). So here are two mental habits of mine. How bad are they? FIRST MENTAL HABIT. Whenever I hear of some new Tory economic policy, my first involuntary question is: 'Cui bono?' - who benefits? And in each case my very strong expectation is that, while the policy might be packaged as egalitarian - as helping the less well-off (e.g. to get on the housing ladder) - it will almost always most significantly benefit billionaires and/or big business . And Lo! In almost every case, I am able to show that it does! Examples: (i) tuition fees were packaged as being about 'fairness' (why should a poor postman pay for some Eton

Giles Fraser on Effective Altruism

Giles Fraser gets a lot wrong here . Giles says effective altruism 'forces all human need to express itself on a single comparable scale because of the giver’s rather nerdish requirement that the world possess some sort of measurable order'. But surely the world does possess at least some sort of measurable order? The 'effective altruist' needn't suppose the right thing to do is always entirely measurable/rationally calculable. They need suppose only that in so far as we can calculate the most effective way to give, we should. What's wrong with that? Effective altruists can also easily shrug off Giles' supposed counter-examples. Effective altruism involves just a commitment to using charitable giving in the most effective way possible. That's not utilitarianism, and it's not a commitment to, in Giles' example, saving the cash rather than the child, for saving the child is not charitable giving. Giles raises a glass to