Moral offset

A moral offset or ethics offset is an action (usually a payment) taken to counteract an immoral act in such a way that the world would prefer the immoral act followed by the moral offset rather than have neither actions take place. For instance, a meat-eater may eat meat and then donate to an animal welfare charity in such a way that even animal welfare advocates would prefer this outcome to that of the meat-eater not eating meat and not donating to the charity.

Christianity

Examples

Carbon offset

  • The Reign of Recycling”:

    [Thomas C. Kinnaman] concludes that the social good would be optimized by subsidizing the recycling of some metals, and by imposing a $15 tax on each ton of trash that goes to the landfill. That tax would offset the environmental costs, chiefly the greenhouse impact, and allow each municipality to make a guilt-free choice based on local economics and its citizens’ wishes. The result, Dr. Kinnaman predicts, would be a lot less recycling than there is today.

External links


  1. I like this quote from the comment:

    Cash transfers significantly relieve poverty of humans who are alive today, and are fairly efficient at doing that. They are far less efficient at helping or harming non-human animals or increasing or reducing existential risk. Even if they have some negative effect here or there (more meat-eating, or habitat destruction, or carbon emissions) the cost of producing a comparable benefit to offset it in that dimension will be small compared to the cash transfer. E.g. an allocation of 90% GiveDirectly, and 10% to offset charities (carbon reduction, meat reduction, nuclear arms control, whatever) will wind up positive on multiple metrics.