Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Notes from Environmental Ethics

Paul Fischer
Professor Mark Budolfson

Many people think factory farms are bad
$ -> poorest people another problem
.. How to invest $ to the best effect

What has primacy, child or pig?

Some see increase in factory farms as best solution to human suffering, Greenhouse gas emissions.

At what point is x years in chicken suffering equal to life years lost for humans?

Effective towards what altruists see as humanities and environmental challenges, will yield implicit judgements of chicken lifeyears to human life years

Articulation of the concept of a standard welfare unit (SWU)
Experiential wellbeing x duration of life x hedonic capacity

Expeientail wellbeing measures welfare within a species
Hedonic capacity measures wellbeing across different species

This will yield a ratio allowing inferring of the way that effective altruists assume if we were to get an animal to happy farm environment this would make some quantity difference to the life of the animal, and
 implicit in this is the view that a human life is worth 23.4 times as much as an animal’s life, or is the argument that this is a measure of a humans’s life is 23 times as effective as the life of an animal on a happy farm

Measurement of the direction of philanthropic adjustments

Questions of which charities to invest in ultimately and why
Kevin Wong tries to answer which questions will be directed towards

Angus Deaton objections to charities as a description  of the realistic estimates of informations available and the efficacy of the charities

Maybe Angus Deaton is right, maybe not, the question for Wong is what questions need to be answered to prove that an animals life can be measured or valued in a certain way and that a human’s life can be measured in a certain way

Numbers that the effective altruists think are correct

No philosophical conclusion help us see the way you have to think through tings to find what ultimately matters towards understanding how this trade off works and the way that deacon thinks about the quality of aid and other impacts.

There is no judgement that this is the correct way to value human lives, but this is how they are actually valued and optimal allocation of animal vs. human lives, some of those assumptions could be incorrect

Nothing in Wong’s work depends on Deaton’s work, these are independent relationships

Furthermore we can set aside whether these concepts are counterproductive for what we are doing here which is more of a philosophical discussion about the certainty of saving a human life year vs. a human life year in a certain way.

Different objections:
Look if we have to choose between 24 pigs and a person the person is always chosen so 24 cannot be even close to the right number so the law fails
Suppose what Wong did was that he told you what he believed to be the right number and why, you could argue that circumstances would change so that this would no longer be the wright number, but ecosystem dynamics would change in a particular way such that extinction would lead to a disaster, basically a good worry
The sort of number that he has here given the way things currently are, on the margin this law remains true and is implicit in the judgement of effective altruists.
It would be perfectly consistent for them to change this update. Empirical change should not be considered in this systemic evaluation of the value conceptually presented here
The underlying equations he is trying to highlight here would stay the same within the systemic margins
By establishing this value as a marginal value, this becomes a useful tool, without it Wong must provide a parabola of efficacy

Change in standard units of welfare = change in experiential wellbeing (intraspecies) times duration of life times hedonic capacity (interspecies)

Effective altruist endorsement from Peter Singer is the endorsement of the following equation:

SWU’s recovered/ Total cost of Intervention

How many happy animal life years are saved per total investment … unit that is the same between the good and is more effective of measure than Peter Singer’s quality adjusted life years

So in charities affecting humans, the hedonic capacity is assumed to be 1, and is not necessary because other species are not considered, in quality of life indices

Establishment of a legal and regulatory system has additional benefits such as basic governance, and could be very important in a way

In the case of a meteor that might hit some chickens or some humans, is the intent of these numbers to reflect.

These numbers cannot reflect whatever he wants, but these numbers can be selected in a way as to make the ration or one or 2 or .1 as a selector basis arbitrary

Arbitrage of the relationship is not completely accurate, but there is no deep truth towards having a specific value of one unless you are not looking at other species for the hedonic capacity

Our species has a 100% capacity to have wellbeing because we have the greatest value there is, this is in conflict to the example of poaching, where people may be incarcerated for the sake of an animal or even put to death. This is appropriate because of the conceptual parabola that exists empirically around these values as discussed above (that should be noted as marginal in nature).

So to use this anthropologically you can imagine a philosophy accident in which one with 42 years left to live is only left with 50% of their original 70% of experiential well being
One can then use the formula to place the value in life years of the accident as 14 life years of the optimal life and 21 years of the person’s life

Relative to the best life a pig could have
  1. Best life a pig could have
  2. How good is a life on a farm in Vermont
  3. How bad is the life on the factory farm
The best possible life for a pig would be 100%

Standard American farm operation decreases the quality of life index of a pig measured by:
Life expectancy (nutrition)
Infectious disease (health)
interspecies compatibility coefficient (social)

Complex cognitive evaluations and long-term planning are components to hedonic capacity

There must be some way of quantifying different values, e.g.. if entire country is going to starve, we would have to do this at some point

How much would we be willing to pay to avoid such an outcome, implicit in that must be some way of assigning perfectly precise weights to these things

Multiple values with different weights attached to them could easily provide tradeoffs between these valuable items, but at certain thresholds.

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