Essays in Philosophy 18 (1):68-90 (2017)
AbstractLeftwing 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 think Effective Altruism will be less effective in realizing its own ends insofar as it fails to recognize that capitalism restricts the good we can do. Conversely, insofar as anti-capitalists fail to recognize the similarity in methods which underlie Effective Altruism thinking about the world, it too risks inefficiency or worse, total failure in replacing capitalism with a more humane economic system. I first argue that Effective Altruism and anti-capitalism are compatible in principle by looking at similarities between Effective Altruist theory and some Marxist writing. I then go on to show that the theoretic compatibility can be mirrored in practice. I demonstrate this by considering and replying to objections to anti-capitalism as they might be raised by Effective Altruists and by replying to objections to Effective Altruism as they might be raised by anti-capitalists. I conclude by suggesting that their reconciliation would lead to better outcomes from the perspective of a proponent of either view. In short, an “Anti-Capitalist Effective Altruism” is not just possible, it’s preferable.
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Citations of this work
Charity Vs. Revolution: Effective Altruism and the Systemic Change Objection.Timothy Syme - 2019 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 22 (1):93-120.
Why Adequacy Isn't Enough: Educational Justice, Positional Goods and Class Power.Joshua Kissel - 2021 - Journal of Philosophy of Education 55 (2):287-301.
Beyond Moral Efficiency: Effective Altruism and Theorizing About Effectiveness.Federico Zuolo - 2020 - Utilitas 32 (1):19-32.
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