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What are the best ways to improve world happiness?
5 November 2017
All plausible moral theories agree increasing the happiness of currently existing people during their lifetimes is intrinsically good. Despite, or perhaps because of, this agreement, surprisingly little work has been done to find out what the most effective ways to improve world happiness are. In this short talk, Michael Plant shares his current conclusions and identifies where more research is needed. He claims that, contrary to the apparent consensus within EA, poverty and physical health should not be the top priorities. He suggests we focus directly on mental health, pain, and what he calls ‘ordinary human unhappiness’ instead. He sets out some of the ways we might do that. Two promising options are (1) funding mental health charities in the developing world and (2) reforming drug laws to make it easier for doctors to use opiates to treat pain (in the developing world) and psychedelics, such as LSD and psilocybin, to treat mental health (worldwide).