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The Philosophical Foundations of Effective Altruism

Effective altruism is a growing social movement founded on the desire to make the world as good a place as it can be, the use of evidence and reason to find out how to do so, and the audacity to actually try’ (from the Centre for Effective Altruism).  We are interested in exploring philosophical questions surrounding this movement, including its philosophical foundations.

  • 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?

Some video recordings and slides are available here

And full details of the conference are available here