icarusrising9 t1_j7tgmbg wrote

It was literary fad at the time. It's done in plenty of other books of the period, like in much of Dostoevsky and some books by Victor Hugo. (Les Misérables is a notable example that comes to mind.)

The idea is to mimic how something would be presented if it were actually true, as specific identifying information like cities and stuff would be censored. You can think of it as being in the same vein as "found footage" films (like "The Blair Witch Project" and "Paranormal"). It would have served to help readers of the time suspend disbelief, as they would be familiar with actual true accounts where information was censored in this way. It doesn't really serve its purpose for a modern reader, which is why some translations substitute in the name of the city the author meant in lieu of the dashes.


icarusrising9 t1_j6jqsaz wrote

You're contradicting what they said, and talking about stuff outside the context of Rights Theory. I just meant to point out that rights as "limited freedoms [...] guaranteed by governments" is sort of silly, since the whole point of rights are to push back on perceived violation of those rights.


icarusrising9 t1_j3zvptr wrote

Reminded me of the scene in The Brothers Karamazov where Ivan talks about the hypothetical little girl locked away in the shack, praying to God to save her. Incredibly emotionally moving stuff.

If you liked The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas, you might really like her novel The Dispossessed as well. She plays with a lot more ethical and sociopolitical questions there too.


icarusrising9 t1_itsdcic wrote

The calculus GiveWell uses is necessarily focused on short-term tangible benefits. For example, there's no way their method could or would result in donating to an organization or political movement trying to bring about large-scale systemic change.

This isn't a full-throated attack on effective altruism, I actually think Singer and GiveWell are brilliant, but it definitely is something to keep in mind.


icarusrising9 t1_itqtu2a wrote

Sure! I think another criticism that's really good emerges when one looks at how corrupt lots of poverty-stricken countries are; how much money donated is actually being pocketed by dictators and bureaucrats? And one could argue that even the money that reaches it's goal just enables the corrupt machine to keep chugging on...

But ya like you said, it's unfortunate the article went way too far and ended up being a parody of much better criticisms.


icarusrising9 t1_itpyj8y wrote

Usually a fan of Jacobin's stuff, but this is a joke. There are valid critiques of effective altruism, sure, but this goes way too far. Of course there are structural, material causes of poverty and suffering. If I have $1,000 in my pocket, though, it's not particularly clear how I can help address those issues other than helping people on a smaller scale. At the end of the day, providing an answer that helps save a couple of lives (who may themselves go on to affect structural change!) is better than endless leftist infighting that likely brings about no positive change at all.

Of course I, like most of Jacobin's readers, would prefer that Singer were explicitly anti-capitalist. However, his call that we bring a more analytical viewpoint to how we seek to bring about maximal good is, I think, a valuable one. I suspect that some critiques of his philosophy are oftentimes subconsciously motivated by a desire to evade the guilt at how much better we Westerners are than the vast majority of the people on this planet. It's easier to pat ourselves on the back for social media posts than it is to donate the majority of our incomes to charities.