– Suffering-focused Ethics

Last update: 2024-04-26

Suffering-focused ethics (often abbreviated to SFE) refers to a recent trend among some ethics researchers who prioritize the reduction of suffering.

Some ethical views related to SFE include Negative consequentialism, Negative utilitarianism, Painism, Prioritarianism, Algoprioritarism. Various resources related to SFE include Suffering-Focused Ethics Resources, Suffering-Focused Ethics (SFE) FAQ, Negative Utilitarianism FAQ, Negative Utilitarianism and Suffering-Focused Ethics.

A leading organization in the SFE movement is the Center for Reducing Suffering (CRS), whose homepage says: “Our mission is to reduce severe suffering, taking all sentient beings into account. We develop ethical views that give priority to suffering, and research how to best reduce suffering. Our top priority is to avoid worst-case futures.”

In About us: “Our main priority with respect to the long-term future is to avoid outcomes with astronomical amounts of intense suffering (i.e. to reduce s-risks). This is because we aim to reduce suffering as much as we can in expectation. Given the scale and severity of s-risks, as well as how likely they seem, we believe s-risk reduction should be a top priority.”

The CRS was founded in 2020 by Tobias Baumann, whose work mainly concerns s-risks (see also our chapter Concerns about Suffering on a Gigantic Scale), and by Magnus Vinding, who has many publications about SFE and the reduction of suffering, including Suffering-Focused Ethics: Defense and Implications, Essays on Suffering-Focused Ethics, and Reasoned Politics, three books that might be particularly relevant for us.

CRS’ page about Open Research Questions states:

This page outlines research avenues that we consider important to our mission. CRS’ work focuses on three main pillars:
Developing and refining suffering-focused moral views
– Gaining further clarity on our macrostrategic situation
Identifying high-priority interventions.

As with other suffering-focused initiatives, it remains to be seen, as we progress in Our Plan, how potential contributions from CRS could be used in our Global Management of Suffering (to be followed).


Our Action Plan About Suffering Copyright © by Partners for a Global Management of Suffering (Eds). All Rights Reserved.

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