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Coordination issues should sometimes be taken into consideration when making practical ethical decisions.

Suppose that you’re considering whether to give $5,000 to charity A. You think that charity A can absorb exactly $5,000 worth of funding, and money after that $5,000 will be wasted. You know that someone else is also considering giving $5,000 to the same charity. Ideally, you want to coordinate to make sure that you do not collectively over- or underfund the charity.

Similar coordination issues can arise for many different ethical decisions, including career decisions, and can become quite complex in cases where parties have different moral views or beliefs about the world.

Unfortunately, it is difficult to work out how precisely you should coordinate with others, and the communication and trust involved in good coordination can be costly to maintain. As more people try to work together to do good, it appears that achieving low-cost coordination will be a difficult but important problem to solve.

Topics relevant to coordination issues include:

Further reading

Kuhn, Ben. 2015. Solving donation coordination problems.
Discussion of potential solutions.

Todd, Benjamin. 2016. The value of coordination.
An overview of this subject as it relates to effective altruism, and potential solutions.