Effective altruists can accept that ones own children are a special

Effective altruists can accept that ones own children

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Effective altruists can accept that one’s own children are a special responsibility, ahead of the children of strangers. There are various possible grounds for this. Most parents love their children, and it would be unrealistic to require parents to be impartial between their own children and other children. Nor would we want to discourage such bias because children thrive in close, loving families, and it is not possible to love people without having greater concern for their well- being than one has for others. In any case, while doing the most good is an important part of the life of every effective altruist, effective altruists are real people, not saints, and they don’t seek to maximize the good in every single thing they do, 24 / 7 . As we shall see, typical effective altruists leave themselves time and resources to relax and do what they want. For most of us, being close to our children and other family members or friends is central to how we want to spend our time. Nonetheless, effective altruists recognize that there are lim- its to how much they should do for their children, given the greater needs of others. Effective altruists do not think their children need all the latest toys or lavish birthday parties, and they reject the widespread assumption that parents should, on their death, leave virtually everything they own to their children rather than give a substantial part of their wealth to those who can benefit much more from it. What about other values, like justice, freedom, equality, and knowledge? Most effective altruists think that other values are good because they are essential for the building of communities in which people can live better lives, lives free of oppression, and have greater
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W H AT I S E F F E C T I V E A LT R U I S M ? 9 self-respect and freedom to do what they want as well as experience less suffering and premature death. 6 No doubt some effective altru- ists hold that these values are also good for their own sake, indepen- dently of these consequences, but others do not. Can promoting the arts be part of “the most good you can do”? In a world that had overcome extreme poverty and other major problems that face us now, promoting the arts would be a worthy goal. In the world in which we live, however, for reasons that will be explored in chapter 11 , donating to opera houses and museums isn’t likely to be doing the most good you can. How many effective altruists could there be? Can everyone practice effec- tive altruism? It’s possible for everyone who has some spare time or money to practice effective altruism. Unfortunately, most people—even, as we shall see in chapter 11 , professional philanthropy advisors—don’t believe in thinking too much about the choice of causes to support. So it isn’t likely everyone will become an effective altruist anytime soon. The more interesting question is whether effective altruists can become numerous enough to influence the giving culture of affluent nations.
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  • Spring '19
  • Hassan Kasfy

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