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  1. added 2020-05-24
    The Philosophical Core of Effective Altruism.Brian Berkey - forthcoming - Journal of Social Philosophy.
    Effective altruism’s identity as both a philosophy and a social movement requires effective altruists to consider which philosophical commitments are essential, such that one must embrace them in order to count as an effective altruist, at least in part in the light of the goal of building a robust social movement capable of advancing its aims. The goal of building a social movement provides a strong reason for effective altruists to embrace an ecumenical set of core commitments. At the same (...)
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  2. added 2020-05-15
    Optimal Climate Policy and the Future of World Economic Development.Mark Budolfson, Francis Dennig, Marc Fleurbaey, Noah Scovronick, Asher Siebert, Dean Spears & Fabian Wagner - 2019 - The World Bank Economic Review 33.
    How much should the present generations sacrifice to reduce emissions today, in order to reduce the future harms of climate change? Within climate economics, debate on this question has been focused on so-called “ethical parameters” of social time preference and inequality aversion. We show that optimal climate policy similarly importantly depends on the future of the developing world. In particular, although global poverty is falling and the economic lives of the poor are improving worldwide, leading models of climate economics may (...)
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  3. added 2020-05-14
    The Hidden Zero Problem: Effective Altruism and Barriers to Marginal Impact.Mark Budolfson & Dean Spears - 2019 - In Hilary Greaves & Theron Pummer (eds.), Effective Altruism: Philosophical Issues.
    In this chapter, Mark Budolfson and Dean Spears analyse the marginal effect of philanthropic donations. The core of their analysis is the observation that marginal good done per dollar donated is a product (in the mathematical sense) of several factors: change in good done per change in activity level of the charity in question, change in activity per change in the charity’s budget size, and change in budget size per change in the individual’s donation to the charity in question. They (...)
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  4. added 2020-05-09
    Poverty and the Peril of Particulars.Jordan Arthur Thomson - forthcoming - Journal of Applied Philosophy.
    Moral extremists argue for a demanding duty of poverty relief by leveraging powerful intuitions about our duties to rescue those close at hand. I clear the way for a less demanding duty by arguing that this argumentative strategy commits the extremist to a conception of our duty in the face of global poverty that is deeply at odds with our convictions about how we may discharge that duty. These convictions reveal that global poverty and easy rescue cases give rise to (...)
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  5. added 2020-04-17
    Effectiveness and Ecumenicity.Chong-Ming Lim - 2019 - Journal of Moral Philosophy 16 (5):590-612.
    Effective altruism is purportedly ecumenical towards different moral views, charitable causes, and evidentiary methods. I argue that effective altruists’ criticisms of purportedly less effective charities are inconsistent with their commitment to ecumenicity. Individuals may justifiably support charities other than those recommended by effective altruism. If effective altruists take their commitment to ecumenicity seriously, they will have to revise their criticisms of many of these charities.
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  6. added 2020-04-15
    Effectiveness and Demandingness.Brian Berkey - forthcoming - Utilitas:1-14.
    It has been argued in some recent work that there are many cases in which individuals are subject to conditional obligations to give to more effective rather than less effective charities, despite not being unconditionally obligated to give. These conditional obligations, it has been suggested, can allow effective altruists to make the central claims about the ethics of charitable giving that characterize the movement without taking any particular position on morality's demandingness. I argue that the range of cases involving charitable (...)
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  7. added 2020-04-10
    Rejecting Supererogationism.Christian Tarsney - 2019 - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 100 (2):599-623.
    Even if I think it very likely that some morally good act is supererogatory rather than obligatory, I may nonetheless be rationally required to perform that act. This claim follows from an apparently straightforward dominance argument, which parallels Jacob Ross's argument for 'rejecting' moral nihilism. These arguments face analogous pairs of objections that illustrate general challenges for dominance reasoning under normative uncertainty, but (I argue) these objections can be largely overcome. This has practical consequences for the ethics of philanthropy -- (...)
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  8. added 2019-12-31
    Overriding Virtue.Richard Y. Chappell - 2019 - In Hilary Greaves & Theron Pummer (eds.), Effective Altruism: Philosophical Issues. Oxford University Press. pp. 218-226.
    If you focus your charitable giving on global causes where it will do the most good, how should you feel about passing by the local soup kitchen? Would the ideally virtuous agent have their (local) empathy still activated, but simply overridden by the recognition that distant others are in even greater need, leaving the agent feeling torn? Or would their empathetic impulses be wholeheartedly redirected towards the greatest needs? This chapter suggests a way to revise an outdated conception of moral (...)
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  9. added 2019-11-18
    Effective Justice.Roger Crisp & Theron Pummer - forthcoming - Journal of Moral Philosophy.
    Effective Altruism is a social movement which encourages people to do as much good as they can when helping others, given limited money, time, effort, and other resources. This paper first identifies a minimal philosophical view that underpins this movement, and then argues that there is an analogous minimal philosophical view which might underpin Effective Justice, a possible social movement that would encourage promoting justice most effectively, given limited resources. The latter minimal view reflects an insight about justice, and our (...)
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  10. added 2019-10-26
    The Epistemic Challenge to Longtermism.Christian Tarsney - manuscript
    Longtermism holds that what we ought to do is mainly determined by effects on the far future. A natural objection is that these effects may be nearly impossible to predict -- perhaps so close to impossible that, despite the astronomical importance of the far future, the expected value of our present options is mainly determined by short-term considerations. This paper aims to precisify and evaluate (a version of) this epistemic objection. To that end, I develop two simple models for comparing (...)
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  11. added 2019-10-24
    Being Good in a World of Need: Some Empirical Worries and an Uncomfortable Philosophical Possibility.Larry S. Temkin - 2019 - Journal of Practical Ethics 7 (1):1-23.
    In this article, I present some worries about the possible impact of global efforts to aid the needy in some of the world’s most desperate regions. Among the worries I address are possible unintended negative consequences that may occur elsewhere in a society when aid agencies hire highly qualified local people to promote their agendas; the possibility that foreign interests and priorities may have undue influence on a country’s direction and priorities, negatively impacting local authority and autonomy; and the related (...)
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  12. added 2019-09-27
    Medical Crowdfunding, Political Marginalization, and Government Responsiveness: A Reply to Larry Temkin.Alida Liberman - 2019 - Journal of Practical Ethics 7 (1):40-48.
    Larry Temkin draws on the work of Angus Deaton to argue that countries with poor governance sometimes rely on charitable giving and foreign aid in ways that enable them to avoid relying on their own citizens; this can cause them to be unresponsive to their citizens’ needs and thus prevent the long-term alleviation of poverty and other social problems. I argue that the implications of this “lack of government responsiveness argument” (or LOGRA) are both broader and narrower than they might (...)
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  13. added 2019-09-12
    Effective Altruism’s Underspecification Problem.Travis Timmerman - 2019 - In Hilary Greaves & Theron Pummer (eds.), Effective Altruism: Philosophical Issues. New York: Oxford University Press. pp. 166-183.
    Effective altruists either believe they ought to be, or strive to be, doing the most good they can. Since they’re human, however, effective altruists are invariably fallible. In numerous situations, even the most committed EAs would fail to live up to the ideal they set for themselves. This fact raises a central question about how to understand effective altruism. How should one’s future prospective failures at doing the most good possible affect the current choices one makes as an effective altruist? (...)
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  14. added 2019-07-16
    Effective Altruism and Systemic Change.Antonin Broi - 2019 - Utilitas 31 (3):262-276.
    One of the main objections against effective altruism is the so-called institutional critique, according to which the EA movement neglects interventions that affect large-scale institutions. Alexander Dietz has recently put forward an interesting version of this critique, based on a theoretical problem affecting act-utilitarianism, which he deems as potentially conclusive against effective altruism. In this article I argue that his critique is not as promising as it seems. I then go on to propose another version of the institutional critique. In (...)
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  15. added 2019-07-06
    Effective Altruism: Philosophical Issues.Hilary Greaves & Theron Pummer (eds.) - 2019 - Oxford: Oxford University Press.
    This is the first collective study of the thinking behind the effective altruism movement. This movement comprises 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, (...)
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  16. added 2019-07-02
    Aid Scepticism and Effective Altruism.William MacAskill - 2019 - Journal of Practical Ethics 7 (1):49-60.
    In the article, ‘Being Good in a World of Need: Some Empirical Worries and an Uncomfortable Philosophical Possibility,’ Larry Temkin presents some concerns about the possible impact of international aid on the poorest people in the world, suggesting that the nature of the duties of beneficence of the global rich to the global poor are much more murky than some people have made out. -/- In this article, I’ll respond to Temkin from the perspective of effective altruism—one of the targets (...)
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  17. added 2019-06-29
    On Satisfying Duties to Assist.Christian Barry & Holly Lawford-Smith - 2019 - In Hilary Greaves & Theron Pummer (eds.), Effective Altruism: Philosophical Issues. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
    In this paper, we take up the question of whether there comes a point at which one is no longer morally obliged to do further good, even at very low cost to oneself. More specifically, they ask: under precisely what conditions is it plausible to say that that “point” has been reached? A crude account might focus only on, say, the amount of good the agent has already done, but a moment’s reflection shows that this is indeed too crude. We (...)
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  18. added 2019-06-03
    Effective Altruism.Theron Pummer & William MacAskill - forthcoming - In Hugh LaFollette (ed.), International Encyclopedia of Ethics.
    In this entry, we discuss both the definition of effective altruism and objections to effective altruism, so defined.
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  19. added 2019-06-03
    Each-We Dilemmas and Effective Altruism.Theron Pummer & Matthew Clark - 2019 - Journal of Practical Ethics 7 (1):24-32.
    In his interesting and provocative article ‘Being Good in a World of Need’, Larry Temkin argues for the possibility of a type of Each-We Dilemma in which, if we each produce the most good we can individually, we produce a worse outcome collectively. Such situations would ostensibly be troubling from the standpoint of effective altruism, the project of finding out how to do the most good and doing it, subject to not violating side-constraints. We here show that Temkin’s argument is (...)
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  20. added 2019-05-20
    Charity and Partiality.Theron Pummer - 2019 - In David Edmonds (ed.), Ethics and the Contemporary World. Abingdon: Routledge. pp. 121-132.
    Many of us give to charities that are close to our hearts rather than those that would use our gifts to do more good, impartially considered. Is such partiality to charities acceptable? I argue that if partiality to particular people is justified, we can go SOME distance toward justifying partiality to particular charities. Even so, partiality to charities is justified in fewer cases than most people seem to believe.
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  21. added 2019-05-16
    Review of The Ethics of Giving: Philosophers’ Perspectives on Philanthropy. [REVIEW]Theron Pummer - 2020 - Philosophical Quarterly 70 (278):426-429.
    The Ethics of Giving: Philosophers’ Perspectives on Philanthropy. Edited by Woodruff Paul.
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  22. added 2019-05-16
    Whether and Where to Give.Theron Pummer - 2016 - Philosophy and Public Affairs 44 (1):77-95.
    Effective altruists recommend that we give large sums to charity, but by far their more central message is that we give effectively, i.e., to whatever charities would do the most good per dollar donated. In this paper, I’ll assume that it’s not wrong not to give bigger, but will explore to what extent it may well nonetheless be wrong not to give better. The main claim I’ll argue for here is that in many cases it would be wrong of you (...)
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  23. added 2019-05-16
    Risky Giving.Theron Pummer - 2016 - The Philosophers' Magazine 73 (2):62-70.
    We might worry that Peter Singer’s argument from “Famine, Affluence, and Morality” is unconvincing to non-consequentialists who accept moral constraints against imposing significant risks of harm on individuals. After all, giving to overseas charities often comes with such risks. I argue that plausible non-consequentialist criteria imply that it is not wrong to give to at least some of the charities that Singer and other effective altruists recommend.
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  24. added 2019-04-23
    Collective Obligations and the Institutional Critique of Effective Altruism: A Reply to Alexander Dietz.Brian Berkey - 2019 - Utilitas 31 (3):326-333.
    In a recent article in this journal, Alexander Dietz argues that what I have called the ‘institutional critique of effective altruism’ is best understood as grounded in the claim that ‘EA relies on an overly individualistic approach to ethics, neglecting the importance of our collective obligations’. In this reply, I argue that Dietz’s view does not represent a plausible interpretation of the institutional critiques offered by others, primarily because, unlike Dietz, they appear to believe that their critiques provide reasons to (...)
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  25. added 2019-03-09
    How To Be Rational: How to Think and Act Rationally.David Robert - manuscript
    This book is divided into 4 chapters. In Chapters 1 and 2, I address (1) how to acquire rational belief attitudes and (2) how to make rational choices. Building on Chapters 1 and 2, I then answer two of the most pressing questions of our time: (3) Should you be skeptical of climate change? (4) Should you invest in life-extension medical research?
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  26. added 2019-03-07
    Are We Conditionally Obligated to Be Effective Altruists?Thomas Sinclair - 2018 - Philosophy and Public Affairs 46 (1):36-59.
    It seems that you can be in a position to rescue people in mortal danger and yet have no obligation to do so, because of the sacrifice to you that this would involve. At the same time, if you do save anyone, then you must not leave anyone to die whom it would cost you no additional sacrifice to save. On the basis of these claims, Theron Pummer and Joe Horton have recently defended a ‘conditional obligation of effective altruism’, which (...)
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  27. added 2019-03-04
    Reflections of a Philosopher.Thad Botham - 2012 - In What Might Be: Readings in Philosophy. Dubuque, USA: Kendall Hunt. pp. 307-321.
    For anyone teaching undergraduates material related to Peter Singer’s (1972) ‘Famine, Affluence, and Morality’, this chapter is for you. I carefully explain the core of the Affluence Argument, balancing accessibility with rigor. I systematically entertain and undermine the following objections: I can’t save everyone, I reject the conclusion, other people aren’t sacrificing their luxuries, it’s MY money and I don’t work hard so that I have to give it to others, I can’t solve the problem by throwing money at it, (...)
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  28. added 2019-02-28
    Effective Altruism: How Big Should the Tent Be?Amy Berg - 2018 - Public Affairs Quarterly 32 (4):269-287.
    The effective altruism movement (EA) is one of the most influential philosophically savvy movements to emerge in recent years. Effective Altruism has historically been dedicated to finding out what charitable giving is the most overall-effective, that is, the most effective at promoting or maximizing the impartial good. But some members of EA want the movement to be more inclusive, allowing its members to give in the way that most effectively promotes their values, even when doing so isn’t overall-effective. When we (...)
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  29. added 2019-02-12
    Charity Vs. Revolution: Effective Altruism and the Systemic Change Objection.Timothy Syme - 2019 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 22 (1):93-120.
    Effective Altruism encourages affluent people to make significant donations to improve the wellbeing of the world’s poor, using quantified and observational methods to identify the most efficient charities. Critics argue that EA is inattentive to the systemic causes of poverty and underestimates the effectiveness of individual contributions to systemic change. EA claims to be open to systemic change but suggests that systemic critiques, such as the socialist critique of capitalism, are unhelpfully vague and serve primarily as hypocritical rationalizations of continued (...)
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  30. added 2018-11-19
    Review of The Ethics of Giving: Philosophers' Perspectives on Philanthropy (Ed. Woodruff). [REVIEW]Brian Berkey - 2018 - Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews.
  31. added 2018-10-30
    Review of Giving Well: The Ethics of Philanthropy (Eds. Illingworth, Pogge, and Wenar). [REVIEW]Brian Berkey - 2014 - Mind 123 (489):220-223.
  32. added 2018-07-16
    Effective Altruism and Collective Obligations.Alexander Dietz - 2019 - Utilitas 31 (1):106-115.
    Effective altruism (EA) is a movement devoted to the idea of doing good in the most effective way possible. EA has been the target of a number of critiques. In this article, I focus on one prominent critique: that EA fails to acknowledge the importance of institutional change. One version of this critique claims that EA relies on an overly individualistic approach to ethics. Defenders of EA have objected that this charge either fails to identify a problem with EA's core (...)
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  33. added 2018-07-02
    Applied Ethics: An Impartial Introduction.Tyron Goldschmidt, Elizabeth Jackson, Rebecca Chan & Dustin Crummett - forthcoming - Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing.
    This book is devoted to applied ethics. We focus on six popular and controversial topics: abortion, the environment, animals, poverty, punishment, and disability. We cover three chapters per topic, and each chapter is devoted to a famous or influential argument on the topic. After we present an influential argument, we then consider objections to the argument, and replies to the objections. The book is impartial, and set up in order to equip the reader to make up her own mind about (...)
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  34. added 2018-04-13
    Wild Animal Suffering is Intractable.Nicolas Delon & Duncan Purves - 2018 - Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics 31 (2):239-260.
    Most people believe that suffering is intrinsically bad. In conjunction with facts about our world and plausible moral principles, this yields a pro tanto obligation to reduce suffering. This is the intuitive starting point for the moral argument in favor of interventions to prevent wild animal suffering. If we accept the moral principle that we ought, pro tanto, to reduce the suffering of all sentient creatures, and we recognize the prevalence of suffering in the wild, then we seem committed to (...)
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  35. added 2018-03-20
    Fighting Aging as an Effective Altruism Cause: A Model of the Impact of the Clinical Trials of Simple Interventions.Alexey Turchin - manuscript
    The effective altruism movement aims to save lives in the most cost-effective ways. In the future, technology will allow radical life extension, and anyone who survives until that time will gain potentially indefinite life extension. Fighting aging now increases the number of people who will survive until radical life extension becomes possible. We suggest a simple model, where radical life extension is achieved in 2100, the human population is 10 billion, and life expectancy is increased by simple geroprotectors like metformin (...)
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  36. added 2017-11-26
    Donation Without Domination: Private Charity and Republican Liberty.Robert S. Taylor - 2018 - Journal of Political Philosophy 26 (4):441-462.
    Contemporary republicans have adopted a less-than-charitable attitude toward private beneficence, especially when it is directed to the poor, worrying that rich patrons may be in a position to exercise arbitrary power over their impoverished clients. These concerns have led them to support impartial public provision by way of state welfare programs, including an unconditional basic income (UBI). In contrast to this administrative model of public welfare, I will propose a competitive model in which the state regulates and subsidizes a decentralized (...)
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  37. added 2017-08-09
    The Institutional Critique of Effective Altruism.Brian Berkey - 2018 - Utilitas 30 (2):143-171.
    In recent years, the effective altruism movement has generated much discussion about the ways in which we can most effectively improve the lives of the global poor, and pursue other morally important goals. One of the most common criticisms of the movement is that it has unjustifiably neglected issues related to institutional change that could address the root causes of poverty, and instead focused its attention on encouraging individuals to direct resources to organizations that directly aid people living in poverty. (...)
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  38. added 2017-07-14
    An Unfortunate State of Affairs.Hilary Greaves - 2016 - In David Edmonds (ed.), Philosophers Take on the World. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  39. added 2017-05-23
    Effective Reducetarianism.William MacAskill - 2017 - In Brian Kateman (ed.), The Reducetarian Solution: How the Surprisingly Simple Act of Reducing the Amount of Meat in Your Diet Can Transform Your Health and the Planet. New York, USA: Penguin Random House. pp. 69-71.
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  40. added 2017-05-23
    Effective Altruism and the Altruistic Repugnant Conclusion.Pellegrino Gianfranco - 2017 - Essays in Philosophy 18 (1):44-67.
    Effective altruism is committed to Altruistic Maximization – the claim that any impact of giving to charities ought to be maximized at the margins and counterfactually. This may lead to counterintuitive or contradictory conclusions in certain cases. For instance, when we can bring about a substantial benefit to few or a tiny benefit to a larger number at the same cost, spreading of benefits across a great number of recipients can compensate substantial loss for fewer people. However, sometimes the perspective (...)
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  41. added 2017-05-23
    Theory-Neutral Arguments for “Effective Animal Advocacy”.Andrew Fisher - 2017 - Essays in Philosophy 18 (1):30-43.
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  42. added 2017-05-23
    Peter Singer, R.M. Hare, and the Trouble With Logical Consistency.Southan Rhys - 2017 - Essays in Philosophy 18 (1):146-171.
    According to the metaethics of R. M. Hare, we determine morality objectively by making a moral judgment, committing to the moral principle underlying that judgment, and then logically extending that moral principle to all relevantly similar cases. This metaethical system called universal prescriptivism had a major impact on Peter Singer, whose arguments for radically improving animal welfare and alleviating global suffering frequently rely on Hare-ian appeals to logical consistency. Hare’s work in metaethics is largely rejected now, but Singer’s popularity has (...)
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  43. added 2017-05-23
    Effective Altruism and Christianity: Possibilities for Productive Collaboration.Alida Liberman - 2017 - Essays in Philosophy 18 (1):6-29.
    While many Christians accept the claim that giving to support the poor and needy is a core moral and religious obligation, most Christian giving is usually not very efficient in EA terms. In this paper, I explore possibilities for productive collaboration between effective altruists and Christian givers. I argue that Christians are obligated from their own perspective to give radically in terms of quantity and scope to alleviate the suffering of the poor and needy. I raise two important potential stumbling (...)
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  44. added 2017-05-23
    But Does It Hurt?Peter Murphy - 2017 - Essays in Philosophy 18 (1):131-145.
    As effective altruists often point out affluent people can do great good for others without having to make significant self-sacrifices. What is the correct moral assessment of patterns of giving that bring about great good and yet carry little in the way of self-sacrifice? Here I will clarify this question, state why it is important, and argue for an answer to it. After sketching the intuitive category of the morally best acts, I argue that self-sacrifice is not a condition that (...)
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  45. added 2017-05-23
    Being Good by Doing Good: Goodness and the Evaluation of Persons.Andreas T. Schmidt - 2017 - Utilitas 29 (1):3-26.
    Does doing good in itself make one a better person? This idea is intuitive yet its precise formulation underexplored. This article first shows that it is not the case that a person is good to the extent that her existence brings about good or to the extent that her actions do good. A proportional principle that evaluates a person according to the expected goodness of her actual course of action relative to the expected goodness of other available courses is shown (...)
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  46. added 2017-05-23
    Effective Altruism and Anti-Capitalism: An Attempt at Reconciliation.Joshua Kissel - 2017 - Essays in Philosophy 18 (1):68-90.
    Leftwing critiques of philanthropy are not new and so it is unsurprising that the Effective Altruism movement, which regards philanthropy as one of its tools, has been a target in recent years. Similarly, some Effective Altruists have regarded anti-capitalist strategy with suspicion. This essay is an attempt at harmonizing Effective Altruism and the anti-capitalism. My attraction to Effective Altruism and anti-capitalism are motivated by the same desire for a better world and so personal consistency demands reconciliation. More importantly however, I (...)
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  47. added 2017-05-23
    Wild Fish and Expected Utility.Bob Fischer - 2017 - Bangladesh Journal of Bioethics 8 (1):1-6.
    Its difficult to process the number of fish killed annually by the fishing industry. Nevertheless, governments are encouraging people to eat even more fishsee, e.g., the USDA dietary guidelinesand although animal advocates certainly dont concur with this advice, they generally havent prioritized fish in their lobbying efforts. Given the influence of utilitarianism on animal advocacy, the odds are good that this is motivated by an expected utility calculation. For those concerned about fish, is there any way to defend them against (...)
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  48. added 2017-05-23
    Effective Altruism: Introduction.William MacAskill - 2017 - Essays in Philosophy 18 (1):1-5.
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  49. added 2017-05-23
    The Other Half of Effective Altruism: Selective Asceticism.Kathryn Muyskens - 2017 - Essays in Philosophy 18 (1):91-106.
    What I seek to do in this paper is to reemphasize what I see as the forgotten or neglected other half of the effective altruist equation. Effective altruists need to take seriously the ways in which their actions contribute to systemic inequality and structural violence. Charitable donation is not enough to create a paradigm shift or stop systemic injustice. In tackling systemic injustice, the ascetic response may allow effective altruists to attack the roots of the problem more directly. Further, the (...)
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  50. added 2017-05-23
    Focus on Fish: A Call to Effective Altruists.Max Elder & Bob Fischer - 2017 - Essays in Philosophy 18 (1):107-129.
    Effective altruists call us to apply evidence-based reasoning to maximize the effectiveness of charitable giving. In particular, effective altruists assess causes in terms of their scope, neglectedness, and tractability, and then recommend devoting resources to the cause that scores best on these criteria. So far, effective altruists concerned with animal suffering have seen these criteria as supporting interventions that improve the lives of layer hens, and they now seem to think that these criteria support directing efforts toward broilers. In this (...)
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