In the Idea Explorer post "Groups, Goals, and Actions" I discussed a framework for making decisions based their impacts on affected groups. Here I'll share a little about how I've begun to use this framework in an attempt to better orient my decisions toward creating a healthier, more ethical world.
I recently used the analytic hierarchy process (AHP), which compares the various elements of the framework and prioritizes them relative to each other. I chose a simple set of actions (what AHP calls "alternatives") that could be ranked to determine which was the best to pursue: serving self, serving family, serving others, and serving other species. Each action was evaluated according to a set of criteria, which were all of what I called "goals" in my framework (maximizing happiness, population, and longevity for each group – self, family, others, and other species).
For groups, I gave family the highest priority, followed by others, self, and other species. For actions, serving family ranked first, then serving others, serving other species, and serving self.
I then tried using my own method to rank each of the goals relative to each other without any concern for actions. This resulted in the longevity of others being ranked first, followed by a tie between family longevity and family happiness for second-place. Third-place was tied between population of others, population of other species, and longevity of other species. Fourth place was tied between family population and the happiness of others. Fifth place was a tie between self happiness and self longevity (lifespan). The happiness of other species was in sixth place, and self population (desire to have more people like me) was in seventh and last place. Comparing goal types, longevity was in first place, and both happiness and population tied for second. Comparing groups, others were first (mainly due to longevity and population), family was second, other species were third, and self was last.
The latter results felt more accurate and meaningful to me than the AHP results, given my obsession with the longevity of the human species (how long until we're extinct) as the ultimate endpoint for the lives of everyone who's part of it. My feelings of very low importance relative to everyone and everything else were better reflected in this evaluation, which were likely more a consequence of forced objectivity than subjective depression. At any rate, I'm willing to consider this a baseline for future comparisons.