Effective Altruism

“Effective altruism is built on the simple but unsettling idea that living a fully ethical life involves doing the most good one can.”

This is, of course, very hard. In particular, I found it hard to quantify the impact of the good things we do. If I dig too deep, the things I see as good invariably become bad. And my brain tends to dig too deep when I’m anxious about my role in society.

So this course didn’t give me any solutions. I felt worse than before in some parts. It did gave me more perspectives, some theories, and vegetarianism :scream:

The teacher is Peter Singer, who wrote the book Animal Liberation. This book from the 70s changed the discussion about animal suffering. I learned the term “speciesism”, and I started questioning why I think of myself as so special in the universe. I’m finding good reasons and bad reasons :slight_smile: I’m starting to avoid labeling things as good and bad.

For me, the most simple and obvious way to minimize my burden in the ecosystem is to eat consciously and not to contribute directly to animal suffering.

I recommend this course for people wondering what is the best use of the money they earn.

For those of you who believe in effective altruism, would you like to share what are the most effective ways you have found?


Hey Steward,

I like your analysis. For a while, I lived in a community space in London frequented by many effective altruism supporters, and I even went to several of their meetups. But I also had that weird feeling that something was not right in the way they approach social change, only from what can be measured, always in monetary terms.

I felt their approach is very “neoliberal” and positivistic. If you work in the city and make lots of money, they say that you can make more impact continuing to work there, while donating a lot of money, rather than seeking a more meaningful career, that pays less, or taking some time off to do activism. They would not support causes like Fridays for future or XR, as their impacts are so difficult to measure.

I didn’t read the book or anything, so my experience of it comes only from interacting with their community in London, however, I feel they have a very reductionist world-view, and therefore I don’t really support their philosophy.