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Cholbi, Michael (2020) The ethics of choosing careers and jobs, in Bob Fischer (ed.) College Ethics: a Reader on Moral Issues That Affect You, Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 878–889.
Some authors argue that there is no moral requirement to pursue the most impactful career. Such a requirement would be excessively demanding . The choice of a career may be comparable in its centrality to a person's life as the choice of a marriage partner. But few believe a person is morally required to choose an impact-maximizing marriage. By analogy, it may be concluded that there is no moral requirement to choose an impact-maximizing career (Cholbi 2020).
Holden Karnofsky has identified four alternative frameworks for making career choice decisions: paths to particular roles working on particular causes; aptitudes a candidate can build in a variety of roles and causes and apply to a variety of jobs; causes to which a candidate can contribute with their career; and heuristics, such as "Do work you can be great at" or "Do work that builds your career capital and gives you more options." (Karnofsky 2021) 80,000
hours uses the paths framework, while Karnofsky himself has focused mostly on the aptitude framework, though he advises candidates to consider multiple frameworks.
Despite its high importance, career choice has received very limited attention. One of the earliest publications on the subject was a youth essay by Karl
Marx. Marx held that we should choose the career "which offers us the widest scope to work for mankind". Such a career, he claimed, would be best not only altruistically but also for the person pursuing it, since "experience acclaims as happiest the man who has made the greatest number of people happy." (Marx 1835) In contemporary philosophy, there is a small literature on whether it is permissible to pursue a non-altruistic rather than an altruistic career, but almost no discussion of how different careers should be ethically ranked (MacAskill 2014). Most of the relevant research on career choice has been carried out outside academia, primarily by the organization 80,000 Hours, which has developed a framework for comparing the social impact of different careers.
Marx, Karl (1835) Reflections of a young man on the choice of a profession in Collected Works, Moscow: Progress Publishers, 1975.