In my prior post on this topic, I laid out seven distinct arguments for limiting Good Ventures funding to the GiveWell top charities. In this post, I explore the first of these:
Good Ventures can find better opportunities to do good than other GiveWell donors can, because it is willing to accept more unconventional recommendations from the Open Philanthropy Project.
I'll start by breaking this up into two claims (disjunctions inside disjunctions!): a bold-sounding claim that the Open Philanthropy Project's impact will be world-historically big, and a milder-sounding claim that it can merely do better than other GiveWell donors.
The bold claim seems largely inconsistent with GiveWell's and the Open Philanthropy Project's public statements, but their behavior sometimes seems consistent with believing it. However, if the bold claim is true, it suggests that the correct allocation from Good Ventures to the GiveWell top charities is zero. In addition, as a bold claim, the burden of evidence ought to be fairly high. As things currently stand, the Open Philanthropy Project is not even claiming that this is true, much less providing us with reason to believe it.
The mild claim sounds much less arrogant, is plausibly consistent with GiveWell's public statements, and is consistent with partial funding of the GiveWell top charities. However, the mild claim, when used as a justification for partial funding of the GiveWell top charities, implies some combination of the following undesirable properties.
- Other GiveWell donors' next-best options are worthless.
- Good Ventures and other GiveWell donors have an adversarial relationship, and GiveWell is taking Good Ventures's side.