S6, Episode 5: Effective Altruism and its Critics (May 9th, 2023)

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Curtis is setting aside a large chunk of money to donate to charity, and it is up to us to persuade him where he should donate it. Luckily, philosophers, economists, and the nonprofit world have been thinking a lot about this issue in recent years. On this episode, effective altruism’s defenders and critics try to persuade Curtis of where he should donate. Who is the most effective in persuading an ordinary person as to the right way to donate to charity? And do the recent scandals involving effective altruism’s biggest donor implicate its philosophical foundations?

We start with arguments that you should always try to save the most lives possible, no matter where they are on the planet. We then hear a critic of that view, who argues that local giving can also be a good. We then turn to the view that we should save humans from extinction from threats like pandemics, nuclear war, and AI takeover. And finally, we hear from a critic of that view, who says we should not blow future risks out of proportion.

Guests include philosophers Richard Yetter-Chappell (Miami),  Savannah Pearlman (Indiana), Shakeel Hashim (Center for Effective Altruism), and Seth Lazar (Australia National University).