Why Pledge?

What is "effective altruism"?

"Effective altruism" is a movement that aims at doing the most good with the limited time, energy, and resources we have. Effective altruists believe that

(1) we should give at least a modest proportion (e.g. one percent) of our income to good causes,

and that

(2) we should direct these donations where they are likely to do the most good.

A good introduction to the thinking behind effective altruism is Peter Singer's recent TED talk, below:



Prominent effective altruist organizations include The Life You Can Save, founded by Singer, and Giving What We Can, founded by Oxford philosopher Toby Ord.


How can I tell where my donations would do the most good?

There are several organizations which research charity effectiveness. One of the best is GiveWell, which has spent thousands of hours finding "evidence-backed, thoroughly vetted, and underfunded" charities. GiveWell provides extensive reports on its research, which you can find on its website. The Life You Can Save and Giving What We Can also conduct their own research on charity effectiveness.

GiveWell currently recommends just four top charitiesAgainst Malaria Foundation, which provides insecticide-treated bed nets; GiveDirectly, which distributes cash directly to very poor individuals in Kenya and Uganda; and Schistosomiasis Control Initiative and Deworm the World Initiative, which treat parasite infections.

For research on the most effective charities focusing on animal welfare, visit Animal Charity Evaluators.

While many people might find this research helpful, however, those who are considering taking the pledge should feel free to use their own best judgment as to where their donations would do the most good.


How much should I give?

In his book The Life You Can Save, Singer advocates 1% of annual income as a public standard minimum that we should expect ourselves and others to give. Giving What We Can offers a 10% pledge. The Effective Altruist Philosophers pledge starts at 1%.



Why should philosophers pledge their donations publicly?

Research has shown that people become more willing to change their giving habits when they see others giving around them. And since academic philosophers represent an especially tight-knit community, many of whom are especially likely to be interested in ethical issues, publicly pledging your support could be particularly effective in encouraging other philosophers to give.


I'm a graduate student – can I pledge too?

Absolutely! Everyone in academic philosophy is welcome to take the pledge – graduate students as well as faculty members.