Effective Altruism

Sunday, August 28, 2022

What Is It

Most people agree that it's good to help others, but philosophers disagree about how much good we need to do, and for whom. Effective altruists claim that you have a moral obligation to do the most good you can—even when that means setting aside the needs of your nearest and dearest in order to help strangers. So what does morality demand of us? Are we justified in caring more about our own communities than faraway strangers? And is it ever okay to pursue a personal project when you could be helping others? Josh and Ray demand much of Theron Pummer from the University of St. Andrews, author of The Rules of Rescue: Cost, Distance, and Effective Altruism (forthcoming).

Comments (1)


Tim Smith's picture

Tim Smith

Friday, August 12, 2022 -- 8:26 AM

Effective or affective?; that

Effective or affective?; that is the question. You almost always want to use effective, except where it doesn't feel right. Honoring that feeling is an incarnate life I wish for everyone.

There is a person in need on a planet's moon circling Betelgeuse. Should we build a self-landing rocket to take a step toward that person? Do small decisions enable tipping points that create unexpected change?; yes. Are these choices drowned by the noise?; mostly yes.

Elon Musk is an innovative, rich, and pariahid idiot. Spacetime does not allow consciousness to transcend starry nights. But we look to the heavens to express our goodwill. There are no answers in the stars; we better hold to our yards, playgrounds, and dirt.

Give Well - https://www.givewell.org/ is where I put my discretionary dollar. My fields' expense limits those dollars, and they need their own fertilizer.

When there are no clear answers in a debate between effect and affect, that is where Philosophy makes inroads. There are several objects to consider: time, space, need, and ability. Understanding your feelings is a first misstep, and hopefully, Theron can help make those steps more manageable.

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