Effective Altruism Philosophical Issues

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Format: Hardcover
Pub. Date: 2019-11-15
Publisher(s): Oxford University Press
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Summary

The effective altruism movement consists of a growing global community of people who organise significant parts of their lives around the two key concepts, represented in its name. Altruism is the idea that if we use a significant portion of the resources in our possession-whether money, time, or talents-with a view to helping others then we can improve the world considerably. When we do put such resources to altruistic use, it is crucial to focus on how much good this or that intervention is reasonably expected to do per unit of resource expended (as a gage of effectiveness). Global poverty is a widely-used case study in introducing and motivating effective altruism, but if the ultimate aim is to do the most good one can with the resources expended then it is far from obvious that global poverty alleviation is highest priority cause area. In addition to ranking possible poverty-alleviation interventions against one another, we can also try to rank interventions aimed at very different types of outcome against one another. This includes, for example, efforts focused on animal welfare or future generations. The scale and organisation of the effective altruism movement encourage careful dialogue on questions that have perhaps long been there, throwing them into new and sharper relief, and giving rise to previously unnoticed questions. In the first volume of its kind, a group of internationally recognised philosophers, economists, and political theorists present refined and in-depth explorations of issues that arise once one takes seriously the twin ideas of altruistic commitment and effectiveness.

Author Biography


Hilary Greaves, University of Oxford,Theron Pummer, University of St Andrews

Theron Pummer is Senior Lecturer in Philosophy and Director of the Centre for Ethics, Philosophy, and Public Affairs at the University of St Andrews. Prior to this he was a Junior Research Fellow in Philosophy at the University of Oxford. His research lies at the intersection of ethical theory and metaphysics, and on the ethics of effective altruism. His work has been published in Analysis, Philosophical Review, Philosophical Studies, Philosophy and Public Affairs, and Oxford Studies in Normative Ethics (Oxford 2017).

Hilary Greaves is Professor of Philosophy and Director of the Global Priorities Institute at the University of Oxford. Her main research interests concern issues in moral philosophy, decision theory, and economics. She has also worked on issues of interpersonal aggregation, population ethics (pure and applied), theories of well-being, the interface between ethics and economics, and formal epistemology.

Table of Contents


Foreword, Peter Singer
Introduction, Hilary Greaves and Theron Pummer
1. The Definition of Effective Altruism, William MacAskill
2. The Moral Imperative Toward Cost-Effectiveness in Global Health, Toby Ord
3. Evidence Neutrality and the Moral Value of Information, Amanda Askell
4. Effective Altruism and Transformative Experience, Jeff Sebo and Laurie Paul
5. Should We Give to More Than One Charity?, James Snowden
6. A Brief Argument for the Overwhelming Importance of Shaping the Far Future, Nick Beckstead
7. Effective Altruism, Global Poverty, and Systemic Change, Iason Gabriel and Brian McElwee
8. Benevolent Giving and the Problem of Paternalism, Emma Saunders-Hastings
9. Demanding the Demanding, Ben Sachs
10. On Satisfying Duties to Assist, Christian Barry and Holly Lawford-Smith
11. Effective Altruism s Underspecification Problem, Travis Timmerman
12. The Hidden Zero Problem: Effective Altruism and Barriers to Marginal Impact, Mark Budolfson and Dean Spears
13. Beyond Individualism, Stephanie Collins
14. Overriding Virtue, Richard Yetter Chappell
15. The Callousness Objection, Andreas Mogensen

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