I agree with you everything you said regarding EAs focusing on the cause areas that are going to do the most good, and for those organizations to carry the burden of evidence / proof so that we are enabled to reduce the most suffering per dollar.
That being said, I’m unconvinced that EAs should be donating any money to charities focussing on systemic racial injustice right now.
I’m not trying to convince others that this is a top priority cause area. It’s definitely not and wouldn’t encourage people to donate if their singular goal is to do the most good in the world.
I have more than one goal here, however. My goal is to find out how I can do the most good in this cause area. I don’t want people to stop donating to x-risk, global health, or farm animal welfare. I’m still donating to GiveWell charities and those take up a majority of my donations still.
I feel that to start with the cause area and work backwards is akin to doing an experiment to prove a result, rather than to find one.
As GiveWell points out, that’s difficult to accomplish, even with their own top charities. I agree that we should continue donating to places that have shown the evidence. Yet, we can’t expect the same GiveWell-like evidence in other cause areas, whether it’s an EA cause or not. That’s why they started Open Philanthropy.
I don’t think that you or anyone else should donate any money to a charity based on felt compassion or intuition
I’m not the type of person to be a perfect utilitarian robot, nor do I want to be. If I were, then I wouldn’t have donated money to my best friend’s father’s funeral which they couldn’t afford.
Peter Singer says in his famous TED talk that EA combines both the head and the heart.
My heart is in global health and poverty, as a someone whose parents and family grew up poor in a third-world country and suffer from chronic disease because of it. My head tells me to donate to GiveWell charities.
My heart is also in criminal justice reform, as a POC whose had family members and friends incarcerated and faced similar injustices. My head wants to find the most effective donation I can make.
Thanks for posting such a considered reply. I think I understand where you’re coming from much better now.
I read the Julia Wise article you linked, and thought it made a lot of sense. I don’t see any point in feeling bad when we spend our time or money on things that aren’t optimised to reduce suffering.
I’m certainly no perfect utilitarian robot myself, I just think that I should be. But I don’t feel bad that I’m not, and I don’t think I should feel bad.
Reading it again, I think my original reply was too prescriptive, I was probably trying to answer a question that you weren’t asking. At the same time, I still believe that you “shouldn’t” donate to charities that aren’t the most effective ones and that if you were to change your mind and put that money towards e.g. the Against Malaria Foundation, it would be the “right” thing to do, or a “better” thing to do.
So yeah, sorry for seeming preachy. I 100% don’t think you should ever feel bad for supporting a charitable cause, there’s enough things to worry about without adding that one.