Magnus Vinding

Magnus Vinding is an author of books and essays on ethics, including suffering-focused ethics, speciesism, veganism and effective altruism, and philosophy.[1] He is a co-founder of nonprofit Center for Reducing Suffering.[2][3][4]

QuotesEdit

  • ... our speaking of “intelligent machines” is somewhat deceptive and arbitrary. For why talk about the point at which these machines become as capable as human individuals rather than, say, an entire human society? After all, it is not at the level of individuals that accomplishments such as machine building occurs, but rather at the level of the entire economy. If we talked about the latter, it would be clear to us, I think, that the capabilities that are relevant for the accomplishment of any real-world goal are many and incredibly diverse, and that they are much more than just intellectual: they also require mechanical abilities and a vast array of materials.
    • Reflections on Intelligence (2016/2020), "3. When Machines Improve Machines"
  • By themselves, the latest, most advanced tools do not do much. A CAD program alone is not going to build much, and the same holds true of the entire software industry. In spite of all its impressive feats, it is still just another cog in a much grander machinery.
    • Reflections on Intelligence (2016/2020), "3. When Machines Improve Machines"

Suffering-Focused Ethics: Defense and Implications (2020)Edit

  • ... the suffering caused by an act of omission would be just as bad for the victim as if it were caused by an act of commission. It only seems different to us, probably in large part because we can expect to be punished and judged more harshly for acts of commission than for acts of omission. Yet if our primary aim is to create ethically optimal outcomes rather than to gain approval from our peers, 4 we should not view the two anywhere near as differently as we do.
    • p. 3
  • ... we are currently confronted with the possibility to reduce extreme suffering more than ever, to an extent we cannot comprehend. And yet almost no one is talking about this, let alone examining the implications. It is urgent that we start doing so.
    • p. 6
  • Increasing the happiness of the already happy is, unlike the alleviation of extreme suffering, not an emergency.
    • p. 32
  • Some pockets of the universe are in a state of insufferable darkness. Such suffering is like a black hole that sucks all light out of the world. Or rather, if all the light of the world has any intrinsic value, it pales in comparison to the disvalue of this darkness. Yet, by extension, this also implies that there is a form of light whose value does compare to this darkness, and that is the kind of light we should aspire to become: the light that brightens and prevents the unendurable darkness of the world.
    • p. 74
  • We are tempted to dismiss and downplay the disvalue and moral importance of (intensely) bad feelings because acknowledging it might result in (mildly) bad feelings for ourselves.
    • p. 115
  • I am not suggesting we should be skeptical of the notion that life can get a lot better. Yet this should not be confused with the question of whether any better state we can reasonably expect to bring about — such as a much happier state — can ever morally outweigh all the suffering its creation would entail, including the (risk of) extreme suffering.
    • p. 116
  • Disaster on an unfathomable scale is always taking place on Earth. Countless instances of extreme suffering are occurring in this moment — right now. Yet because this suffering is so normal and ordinary, simply occurring every day, distributed rather evenly over time and space, it seems less evocative and urgent than the more unusual, more localized disasters, such as school shootings and earthquakes. Almost all the suffering that occurs on Earth can be considered baseline horror, which allows us to ignore it. We simply do not feel the ever-present emergency that surrounds us.
    • p. 122
  • ... the asymmetry in ease of realization [of suffering vs. happiness] suggests that it is more cost-effective (for a wide variety of value systems) to work to avoid dystopian outcomes than to create utopian ones.
    • p. 254

Reasoned Politics (2022)Edit

  • ... the first steps toward motivated reasoning occur prior to conscious awareness, meaning that we often find ourselves on a moving train of motivated reasoning long before we can frame our first deliberate thought.
    • p. 41
  • ... many studies have demonstrated that we can change our minds when exposed to rational arguments, and that our initial opinions and prejudices can be challenged to a considerable extent.
    • p. 47
  • ... more reasoned approach to politics does not come easily, but nor is it impossible. Like literacy, it requires hard work and the right cultural circumstances. And there is reason not to despair completely: the scientific study of our political psychology and biases is still quite young, and its key findings are still to be widely disseminated. We have yet to turn this crucial self-knowledge into common knowledge, and to make it part of our culture. In particular, we have yet to see it change the perhaps most important aspect of our culture, namely our social incentives.
    • p. 48
  • We think with our culture. That is, we rarely think from first principles, even first principles we ourselves sincerely endorse, but rather from sentiments instilled in us by our culture. Nowhere is this more obvious than in the case of humanity’s moral attitudes toward non-human animals. Even most utilitarians, who by their own ideals ought to consider the suffering of all beings important, are still in fact exceptionally anthropocentric in their attitudes. The insights of Darwin have not yet trickled fully into our moral consciousness, not even among those whose moral views demand it. Such is the heavy momentum of culture, which is reflected in every facet of modern politics and political thought. The anthropocentrism of most political philosophy is, to put it mildly, a massive failure.
    • p. 109
  • ... giving equal consideration to all suffering will likely mean prioritizing non-human suffering on the margin, partly because non-human beings are so numerous, partly because their suffering is often extremely intense, and partly because their suffering is uniquely neglected — especially the suffering occurring on factory farms, in the fishing industry, and in nature; three of the biggest screaming elephants in the room of modern political discourse.
    • p. 174
  • In terms of marginal efforts to improve liberal democracy, perhaps one of the best things we can do to entrench better values in our institutions and in society at large is to promote sentiocracy — working to gradually increase the concern for and representation of non-human beings in the political process, and thus to make sentiocracy the future of democracy.
    • p. 250

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. Magnus Vinding. Goodreads.
  2. Docker, Gus (November 21, 2021). How Can We Best Reduce Suffering? - Magnus Vinding. Utilitarian Podcast.
  3. Center for Reducing Suffering. EA Forum.
  4. Animal Ethics. Suffering-focused ethics.

External linksEdit

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