Andreas Mogensen’s “Maximal Cluelessness”

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An­dreas Mo­gensen, a Se­nior Re­search Fel­low at the Global Pri­ori­ties In­sti­tute, has just pub­lished a draft of a pa­per on “Max­i­mal Clue­less­ness”. Ab­stract:

I ar­gue that many of the pri­or­ity rank­ings that have been pro­posed by effec­tive al­tru­ists seem to be in ten­sion with ap­par­ently rea­son­able as­sump­tions about the ra­tio­nal pur­suit of our aims in the face of un­cer­tainty. The par­tic­u­lar is­sue on which I fo­cus arises from recog­ni­tion of the over­whelming im­por­tance and in­scrutabil­ity of the in­di­rect effects of our ac­tions, con­joined with the plau­si­bil­ity of a per­mis­sive de­ci­sion prin­ci­ple gov­ern­ing cases of deep un­cer­tainty, known as the max­i­mal­ity rule. I con­clude that we lack a com­pel­ling de­ci­sion the­ory that is con­sis­tent with a long-ter­mist per­spec­tive and does not down­play the depth of our un­cer­tainty while sup­port­ing or­tho­dox effec­tive al­tru­ist con­clu­sions about cause pri­ori­ti­za­tion.