The Institutional Critique of Effective Altruism

Utilitas 30 (2):143-171 (2018)
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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. In this article, I discuss and assess this ‘institutional critique’. I argue that if we understand the core commitments of effective altruism in a way that is suggested by much of the work of its proponents, and also independently plausible, there is no way to understand the institutional critique such that it represents a view that is both independently plausible and inconsistent with the core commitments of effective altruism.



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Brian Berkey
University of Pennsylvania

References found in this work

A Theory of Justice: Revised Edition.John Rawls - 1999 - Harvard University Press.
Rescuing Justice and Equality.G. A. Cohen (ed.) - 2008 - Harvard University Press.
Whether and Where to Give.Theron Pummer - 2016 - Philosophy and Public Affairs 44 (1):77-95.
Philosophical Critiques of Effective Altruism.Jeff McMahan - 2016 - The Philosophers' Magazine 73:92-99.

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