Uncertainty and Ethical Obligations

LukeProg interviews Toby Ord of Oxford and founder of Giving What We Can about what may be an even more complex problem than that of the Existential dilemma over being itself: how do we overcome uncertainty in formulating an ethical system?

Conversations from the Pale Blue Dot: Toby Ord

There are few definitive answers, of course. How could there be? But Toby does a great job of drawing a map of deontological theories (rule-based, including “divine command theory”), virtue ethics, and consequentialist theories (utilitarianism, etc.). He’s partial to the latter (and even thinks most of the ethical systems might be unified as consquentialist), and his foundation has worked to perfect the calculations concerning how an individual’s contributions to specific charities can potentially result in the future reduction in human suffering.

Here’s a quandary, though: is exuberant excess sometimes necessary for enhancing future productivity that might lead to greater reductions in human suffering?  I may just be hoping to justify my failure to follow Toby’s example or, at least, to make up for it later in life.

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