Mozi, Mengzi, and Effective Altruism

[Author’s note: Another old paper makes it online!]

A while back I took a class on ancient chinese philosophy, taught by David Wong (who is great, by the way.) One of the things that Professor Wong noted was the similarity between modern-day ethical debates surrounding effective altruism and the ancient dispute between Mozi and Mengzi. I dug a little deeper and made a list of all the similarities I could think of; this is that list. Comments welcome:

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1xlGJ8_mV2vRB8ig1jIqsdWVPFcoNQXqYxBeBWc08NzE/edit?usp=sharing

I’m sufficiently impressed by these similarities that I think it is fair to say that Mozi and Mengzi really were talking about the same issues that feature prominently in debates about EA today; they were even making many of the same arguments and taking many of the same positions. I think this is really cool. If I ever teach intro to philosophy (or ancient philosophy, or non-western philosophy, or intro to ethics) in university, I intend to include a section on Mozi/Mengzi/EA.


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