What is the best way to live a fully ethical life? What is the most good you can do?
Peter Singer’s ideas have been disturbing our complacency ever since the appearance of his radical essay on animal rights. He now visits the RSA to discuss a provocative new movement in which his own ideas have played a crucial role: effective altruism.
Effective altruism is built upon the idea that living a fully ethical life involves doing the "most good you can do." Such a life requires a new and unsentimental view of charitable giving: to be a worthy recipient of our support, an organisation must be able to demonstrate that it will do more good with our money or our time than all the other options open to us.
Singer has controversially challenged those who donate to the arts, and to charities focused on helping our fellow citizens, rather than those for whom we can do the most good. Is he right – should we only focus on rationally maximising the good we can do, and will that help us tackle the world’s most pressing problems?