Menu

GBS Switzerland

The Ethics of Impact

Jonathan Leighton on March 17. 2015

When we hear the word “ethics”, we may think of the abstract musings of academic philosophers disconnected from the realities of our world, or the codes of conduct of multinational corporations eager to avoid excessive scrutiny. But when we consider how to ensure that our well-intentioned actions have meaningful impact, ethical reflections take on a […]

Continue reading

The Battle for Compassion

Jonathan Leighton on March 16. 2015

The Battle for Compassion is a film our advisor Jonathan Leighton produced on his book of the same name. Its clear message: Our civilization needs to get clearer on what its core values are, and should converge on prioritizing the prevention of horrible suffering, no matter where, when and in what sentient being it occurs.

Continue reading

Reducing Wild Animal Suffering – The Reality Check

Brian Tomasik on February 20. 2015

The Reality Check interviewed our researcher Brian Tomasik about the issue of wild animal suffering and what we can do to help wild animals. Part 1 http://gbs-schweiz.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/interview-wild-animal-suffering-1-trc.mp3 Part 2 http://gbs-schweiz.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/interview-wild-animal-suffering-2-trc.mp3 References The interviews were first published on The Reality Check website. Horta, O. (2015). Why the situation of animals in the wild should concern us. Animal Charity Evaluators. […]

Continue reading

Stone Age Brains in a Silicon Age

Lucius Caviola on January 16. 2015

Cognitive biases and irrationality We are in possession of the most complex structure known in the universe, the human brain. This jelly-like mass contains a mind-boggling one hundred billion neurons and produces our every thought, action, memory, feeling, and experience of the world. It allows us to recognize and organize complex patterns, to plan for […]

Continue reading

Irrationality about Rationality and Nudging

Adriano Mannino on December 15. 2014

In an article titled “We are more rational than those who nudge us”, Steven Poole writes: Kahan’s argument about the woman who does not believe in global warming is a surprising and persuasive example of a general principle: If we want to understand others, we can always ask what is making their behaviour ‘rational’ from their […]

Continue reading

Cognitive Biases in the Law

Charlotte Blattner on

Judicial decisions and the individual judges behind the judgments are liable to claims of objectivity and impartiality. Given the workload judges face, the vast diversity of subject matter they are expected to master, and – more fundamentally – given the fact that they run on human brains, it comes as no surprise that judgments don’t […]

Continue reading

Helping People through Poker: A Reply to Dan Colman

Adriano Mannino on December 12. 2014

1. The suffering of poker pros: What’s our stressless career alternative? 2. What about the many losers? 3. How many people can we help with our winnings? 4. What’s the most +EV strategy given Dan’s concerns? 5. Forget self, gain wealth! After winning the One Drop, Dan Colman left the event without giving interviews and […]

Continue reading

Secular Ethics

Lukas Gloor on December 11. 2014

What is Your Goal in Life? Introduction If there is no God, so the argument goes, there is no objectivity in ethics. This article will later attempt to specify what exactly “objective ethics” could refer to. First however, we’ll get God out of the way: Roughly 2400 years ago, the Greek philosopher Plato raised a […]

Continue reading

What Is Life?

Lukas Gloor on

How Molecules Became Living Organisms Introduction All life on earth evolved from a common ancestor, from an initial replicator (or replicating system composed of several molecules) that got the evolutionary process in motion. Once you have a self-replicating molecule, it goes on to make copies of itself. Why? Because it just happened to have the […]

Continue reading

Do Vegetarians Cause Greater Bloodshed? – A Reply

Adriano Mannino on

Urgeschmack.de’s Felix Olschewski has argued that vegetarians “(may) cause greater bloodshed than meat eaters”. This was spread with headlines such as “Vegetarians are also murderers”. The topic is trending, as evidenced by the English article Ordering The Vegetarian Meal? There’s More Animal Blood On Your Hands, which Olschewski cited and which went sort-of-viral. The following […]

Continue reading

“Charity ain’t for me, I’m a hedonist, you see!”

Adriano Mannino on

This is a curious objection charity sometimes gets. It is curious first because the term “hedonist” actually just means “someone who tries to maximize happiness”. You can be an egoistic hedonist and care about your own happiness only; an altruistic hedonist and care about the happiness of everyone equally; or any combination of the two. Unfortunately, […]

Continue reading

Giving locally vs. globally: Where can we do the most good?

Adriano Mannino on

“Charity begins at home” is a popular idea. At REG we’re not interested in whether ideas are popular, though, but in whether they’re based on good evidence. Where do the arguments lead in the “local vs. global” debate? One might intuitively think there are special obligations towards “local” people. But what justifies this intuition? (It’s […]

Continue reading

Saving lives through donation: A rational choice – part 1

Adriano Mannino on

Rationality is about optimal goal-achievement. Whatever your goals are, you’re rational if you act so as to maximize their expected achievement, i.e. so as to maximize your life-game EV. This post argues that if people were more rational – reasoned better about what their life-goals actually are and how to optimally achieve them – they […]

Continue reading

Meta-charities

Tobias Pulver on

Scientific charity evaluators such as GiveWell provide reliable evidence that their top-rated charities help a very high number of people per amount of money donated. In addition to these “direct” charities, REG also recommends several meta-charities. A meta-charity is an organization that doesn’t seek to help people in need directly, but seeks to help many potential donors to start helping people […]

Continue reading

Zizek on consumption and charity: What?

Tobias Pulver on

So Zizek is trying to update us on consumption and charity. The probability that this guy has something worthwhile to say, conditional e.g. on what he said and wrote about vegetarians, isn’t exactly high. (Peter Singer and Paola Cavalieri have taught him a lesson in clear-thinking in the Journal of Baudrillard Studies. Yes – in […]

Continue reading

Responding on a “political” or “individual” level?

Tobias Pulver on

A political philosopher friend recently asked: What are your 2-3 core reasons for considering it permissible/obligatory to respond to climate change primarily on a political rather than an individual level? Someone answered: (a) It is arrogant hybris to think one has the responsibility to respond to that question solitarily. Hybris because responsibilty implies ability, arrogant […]

Continue reading

Will Kymlicka on Animal Co-Citizens – Interview Part 1

Adriano Mannino on

We recently had the privilege to interview Professor Will Kymlicka on some topics raised by his latest book, Zoopolis, co-authored with Sue Donaldson. Zoopolis offers a new agenda for the theory and practice of animal rights: Most animal rights theory focuses on the intrinsic capacities or interests of animals, and the moral status and moral rights that these […]

Continue reading

Will Kymlicka on Animal Denizens and Foreigners in the Wilderness – Interview Part 2

Adriano Mannino on

The first part of the interview was focused on the concept of animal citizenship and various issues relating to it: general political theory, the group of animal co-citizens, their political participation, domesticated species preservation vs. modification vs. extinction, animal use and labour, and the question of species vs. individuals. The second part of the interview deals […]

Continue reading

Crucial Questions in the Debate about Humanitarian Intervention in Nature

Tobias Pulver on

The second part of our interview with Will Kymlicka was focused on animal “foreigners” in the wilderness, sovereignty rights and their pre-conditions, natural harms and predation, small-scale help vs. large-scale “humanitarian intervention”, and the dangers of human control and micro-management. Kymlicka argues that wild animal populations should be considered as sovereign nations. He acknowledges, though, that a […]

Continue reading

Can “rights” be expressed in terms of “duties”?

Adriano Mannino on

Our blog authors Raffael Fasel and Adriano Mannino exchange their thoughts on the relation between rights and duties: Can “rights” be expressed in terms of “duties”, i.e. are the former reducible to the latter? Adriano: For every statement containing the term “right”, there seems to be a synonymous/equivalent statement only containing the word “duty”. If statements about “rights” […]

Continue reading

Animal law from an inter-national perspective

Charlotte Blattner on

Animal law historically evolved as a field of law that is operated from the domestic level. Consequently, many states view laws on animal welfare as a regime enjoying the status of domaine réservé, i.e. as a protected internal affair. Being a matter of “domestic jurisdiction”, animal law currently escapes authoritative judgment by the international community. […]

Continue reading

Do animals need rights?

Charlotte Blattner on

Prof. William A. Edmundson recently added valuable input to the animal rights debate with his paper “Do animals need rights?”, presented at the conference “The animal turn and the law”, held in Basel, Switzerland, on April 4-5, 2014. Combining philosophy and law, Edmundson has authored the book “An Introduction to Rights” (CUP, 2012), where he developed […]

Continue reading

Ends and Means

Tobias Pulver on November 19. 2014

Why Biodiversity might be less important than we think What are your goals in life, what is it that you care about? When people are asked what they value, answers will include things like happiness, freedom, fairness, friendship, biodiversity, truth, pizza, equality, medicine or loyalty (and many other things). In theory, it may be that […]

Continue reading

The Case for Donating Now Instead of Later

Adriano Mannino and Lukas Gloor on November 11. 2014

Identifying points of leverage If something is important to us, such that we want to do it as well as possible (as opposed to just doing it in the way people commonly do it), then it’s crucial to put in a lot of thought and always be on the lookout for more effective strategies, for […]

Continue reading

Is Cost-Effective Giving Cold-Hearted?

Lukas Gloor on July 9. 2014

In finance, cost-effectiveness is a no-brainer. Investors consider all the data available to them in order to invest in the option that is best in terms of expected profit. In charity, however, most people put much fewer cognitive resources into the selection of organizations to donate to. People may choose charities because they were convincingly […]

Continue reading

Effective donation: Why you can save many more animals with your dollar than with your plate

Adriano Mannino on May 7. 2014

Contents The blind spot of consumer ethics Donating well is (much) more important than consuming well Effective vs. ineffective donation Monthly budget and career choice: “Earning to Give” “Setting a good example”: Towards a new culture of donation Our intuitive thinking is strongly influenced by consumer ethics: We think that acting responsibly according to human and […]

Continue reading