Until recently, I thought donations to charities should be made anonymously, that I should hide my giving, not let the left hand know what the right hand is doing. I thought that I should not announce or ‘advertise’ my giving, that this was ego-based, self-serving, less than altruistic. Even donation plaques in auditoriums bothered me: “This seat was donated by William A. & Susan R. Jones.” But I’ve changed my view on this. Continue reading
“Those of us who care at all may send a donation to one of the agencies trying to help: ten dollars, or fifty dollars, or perhaps even a hundred dollars. Any more would be a rare act of generosity by the standards of our society. Yet those of us fortunate enough to live in Western Europe, North America, Australia, or Japan regularly spend as much or more on holidays, new clothes, or presents for our children. If we cared about the lives and welfare of strangers in Africa as we do about our own welfare and that of our children, would we spend money on these nonessential items for ourselves instead of using it to save lives? Of course, we have lots of excuses for not sending money to Africa: we say that our contribution could only be a drop in the ocean, or that the agencies waste the money they receive, or that food handouts are no good—
My contribution cannot end a famine, but it can save the lives of several people who might otherwise starve.
what is needed is development, or a social revolution, or population control. In our more honest moments, though, we recognize that these are excuses. Continue reading
When it comes to creating wealth and thereby improving people’s material conditions, capitalism is without doubt effective, but capitalism is clearly inadequate as any kind of social ideal, since it is only motivated by profit, without any ethical principle guiding it.
One of the most significant truths brought to light by the present political crisis in the US is the overwhelming depth and pervasiveness of greed in our society. The propensity to spend and accumulate is so imbedded in the fabric of our nation that it has become nearly invisible to us; it pervades every dimension of our lives; it is the way we live. With a kind of breezy nonchalance, we spend ‘our’ money with little, if any, regard for the extreme suffering of others. Continue reading
“If I can have a benefit for myself or give the same size benefit to 1000 other people — I think that is a no-brainer.”
“Some people ask me, in response to all of this, has it been difficult? It was about four years ago that I made this pledge to give all of my income above £20,000 per annum (about $27,000 USD). And my answer is, no. I was a grad student when I decided to do this. I had less than that amount of money. I have more now than I ever had before. And so, actually, I’m living pretty well.”
“The main difference is that there are some issues that I previously thought I was running away from, and now I feel like I’m tackling them head-on and making the most of my life and really trying to help people directly and effectively.” Continue reading
IN THE FAR-REACHING DIALOGUE featured in this post, world renowned moral philosopher Peter Singer and physicist Lawrence Krauss meet for an intimate evening of conversation at the Origins Project Dialogue. The Origins Project at ASU (Arizona State University) is a transdisciplinary initiative exploring fundamental questions facing humankind today. This candid and unscripted conversation on ethics for the 21st century covers topics ranging from animal liberation to dying with dignity, food, global poverty and effective altruism. Of the many Peter Singer presentations available on YouTube, this is one of the best. It is both penetrating and humorous. Highly Recommended. Continue reading
Toby Ord is a moral philosopher at Oxford University. His work focuses on the big picture questions facing humanity. What are the most important issues of our time? How can we best address them?
Toby’s earlier work explored the ethics of global health and global poverty, demonstrating that aid has been highly successful on average and has the potential to be even more successful if we were to improve our priority setting. This led him to create an international society called Giving What We Can, whose members have pledged over $1 billion to the most effective charities helping to improve the world. He also co-founded the wider effective altruism movement, encouraging thousands of people to use reason and evidence to help others as much as possible. Continue reading