Beyond Moral Efficiency: Effective Altruism and Theorizing about Effectiveness

Utilitas 32 (1):19-32 (2020)
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Abstract

In this article I provide a conceptual analysis of an underexplored issue in the debate about effective altruism: its theory of effectiveness. First, I distinguish effectiveness from efficiency and claim that effective altruism understands effectiveness through the lens of efficiency. Then, I discuss the limitations of this approach in particular with respect to the charge that it is incapable of supporting structural change. Finally, I propose an expansion of the notion of effectiveness of effective altruism by referring to the debate in political philosophy about realism and the practical challenge of normative theories. I argue that effective altruism, both as a social movement and as a conceptual paradigm, would benefit from clarifying its ideal, taking into account the role of institutions, and expanding its idea of feasibility.

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References found in this work

A Theory of Justice: Revised Edition.John Rawls - 1999 - Harvard University Press.
Whether and Where to Give.Theron Pummer - 2016 - Philosophy and Public Affairs 44 (1):77-95.
Understanding Political Feasibility.Holly Lawford-Smith - 2012 - Journal of Political Philosophy 21 (3):243-259.
Subject index.G. A. Cohen - 2008 - In Rescuing Justice and Equality. Harvard University Press. pp. 425-430.

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