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Brief news notice only; I haven't read this book or any of its constituent essays, save for those that have been published/shared in other formats.

Oxford University Press just released “Effective Altruism: Philosophical Issues” — a compilation of academic essays from philosophers, economists, and political theorists on issues in EA philosophy, with a foreword from Peter Singer.


This is the first collective study of the thinking behind the effective altruism movement. This movement comprises a growing global community of people who organise significant parts of their lives around the two key concepts represented in its name.

Altruism is the idea that if we use a significant portion of the resources in our possession—whether money, time, or talents—with a view to helping others then we can improve the world considerably. When we do put such resources to altruistic use, it is crucial to focus on how much good this or that intervention is reasonably expected to do per unit of resource expended (as a gauge of effectiveness). We can try to rank various possible actions against each other to establish which will do the most good with the resources expended. Thus we could aim to rank various possible kinds of action to alleviate poverty against one another, or against actions aimed at very different types of outcome, focused perhaps on animal welfare or future generations.

The scale and organisation of the effective altruism movement encourage careful dialogue on questions that have perhaps long been there, throwing them into new and sharper relief, and giving rise to previously unnoticed questions. In this volume a team of internationally recognised philosophers, economists, and political theorists present refined and in-depth explorations of issues that arise once one takes seriously the twin ideas of altruistic commitment and effectiveness.

Table of contents

Foreword, Peter Singer
Introduction, Hilary Greaves and Theron Pummer
1. The Definition of Effective Altruism, William MacAskill
2: The Moral Imperative Toward Cost-Effectiveness in Global Health, Toby Ord
3: Evidence Neutrality and the Moral Value of Information, Amanda Askell
4: Effective Altruism and Transformative Experience, Jeff Sebo and Laurie Paul
5: Should We Give to More Than One Charity?, James Snowden
6: A Brief Argument for the Overwhelming Importance of Shaping the Far Future, Nick Beckstead
7: Effective Altruism, Global Poverty, and Systemic Change, Iason Gabriel and Brian McElwee
8: Benevolent Giving and the Problem of Paternalism, Emma Saunders-Hastings
9: Demanding the Demanding, Ben Sachs
10: On Satisfying Duties to Assist, Christian Barry and Holly Lawford-Smith
11: Effective Altruism's Underspecification Problem, Travis Timmerman
12: The Hidden Zero Problem: Effective Altruism and Barriers to Marginal Impact, Mark Budolfson and Dean Spears
13: Beyond Individualism, Stephanie Collins
14: Overriding Virtue, Richard Yetter Chappell
15: The Callousness Objection, Andreas Mogensen




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Quick thing anyone could do, to make this book (or any other book you find valuable) more available.

Most university/city libraries offer the possibility to recommend books to them. I`ve done this myself many times (also for this book) and my university library sofar ordered every book I`ve recommended.

Seconded! Most library books are read only a few times; libraries are generally eager to order books if they know they'll have an audience. If you make a request in person, you could mention that your local EA group has multiple people interested in the book, if you are a member of such a group -- I imagine that would be helpful.

My university group is planning to do a reading group around this book next year. While discussing how we'd all get access to a copy without each individually buying one, we discovered to our delight that it's available through our university library as en e-book. Just putting this out there because if any other student group is planning something similar, check if your uni library has or can get e-book access, too.

Another option would be to buy it for your university library, but ask them (or ask a sympathetic philosophy professor to ask them if students can't directly request this) to put it into short loans, 2-hour loan, high use, or whatever your university calls the section for books that can only be consulted for short periods. But the e-book is way more convenient and will thus probably increase the number of people who read and attend your group each week/fortnight/month.

Here's a link to the Introduction in Google Books, so people can read that and see what the papers are about.

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