Philosophical Foundations of Effective Altruism

Oxford 10-11 November 2016

Effective altruism is a philosophy and social movement focusing on getting the most good out of charitable activities (donations of money, time, and talents).  It has received much popular attention, but a number of philosophical issues surrounding it remain underexplored.  For example:

What is the best statement of effective altruism as a philosophical view, and what is its relation to consequentialism, deontology, or virtue ethics? What are the strongest objections to effective altruism, in theory or in practice, and do they succeed? Are there agent-relative reasons for giving to charity (for example, reasons to give on the basis of close personal ties)? Are such reasons compatible with effective altruism? What is the most important cause? Fighting extreme poverty, reducing existential risks, or what? How should we decide where to give if there is no clearly best cause? To what extent is progress in ethical theory a priority, from an effective altruist perspective? For example, how important is it for us to figure out what well-being consists in, or to solve problems in population ethics, and so on?

Videos of some of the talks are available here


Luc Bovens (Princeton/LSE) – “Why I am Not an Effective Altruist”
Susanne Burri (LSE) – “The Kantian Fallacy Fallacy”
Stephanie Collins (Manchester) – “Beyond Altruism and Individualism”
Amanda Askell (NYU) – “Is Effective Altruism Clueless?”
Richard Chappell (York) – “Overriding Virtue”
Ben Sachs (St Andrews) – “Effective Exhorting”
Brian McElwee (Southampton) and Iason Gabriel (Oxford) – “Is Effective Altruism Indirectly Self-Defeating?”
Will MacAskill (Oxford) – “The Definition of Effective Altruism”
Emma Saunders-Hastings (Chicago) – “Effective Altruism and the Problem of Paternalism”
Roger Crisp (Oxford) and Theron Pummer (St Andrews) – “Effective Justice”