Major ideas of effective altruism

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Doing good and living for the benefit of others is an important part of everyone’s life. God and the Bible teach people to be morally upright and to sacrifice for others. Nowadays, talking about effective altruism as a way to explain people’s actions is becoming more popular. The purpose of this paper is to discuss effective altruism and its benefits to people and the environment. Effective altruism has a widely agreed-upon definition. This is a “philosophy and social movement that seeks out the most effective ways to improve the world through evidence and reasoning” (MacAskil, 2016, p. 6). However, this definition does not say a word about the motives, sacrifices and costs of effective altruists. It looks strange, since traditionally altruism is opposed to selfishness, which places human interests at the center of the matter. However, one should not think that effective altruism requires an indispensable self-sacrifice. Effective altruists, helping others, say that they do not sacrifice anything, but just constantly think about how to do good. Effective altruism is interesting from several points of view. First of all, it changes the world for the better. Today, philanthropy is a huge industry. Almost a million charitable organizations, which annually donate about 200 billion dollars, are registered in the USA (MacAskil, 2016, p. 23). At the same time, religious communities receive 100 billion of donations (MacAskil, 2016, p. 23).

Although, effective altruism sounds very positive and useful for people; there are several objections to its effectiveness and sincerity of people, engaged in this philosophical movement. Firstly, there are fraudsters among the charities and organizations, which position themselves as effective altruists. More serious problem lies in the fact, in most cases these organizations are not transparent enough, and donors have no way of judging whether they really do good.

Secondly, people tend to believe that effective altruism is outdated and nowadays it is wrong to help people and sacrifice something. This opinion is so stable and firmly rooted in modern society that it is impossible to eliminate it from minds of population. People stick to the opinion that it is stupidity to sacrifice one’s life and precious things to do good for someone, with whom you are not even familiar.

Advantages of effective altruism

Effective altruism helps people to make their life meaningful. Obviously, they help others, but indirectly they do great contribution to themselves. Helping other people is the best way to forward one’s positive energy and mind to good things, which can help people, who are in need.

Moreover, effective altruism allows us taking a fresh look at the old philosophical question: are our actions predetermined by our needs and emotional responses, or does the mind play an important role in the way of our life? What are people’s motivations to consider the interests of one’s own, but the needs of people unfamiliar to us? Answering these questions will help us to understand the actions and motifs of effective altruists and decide what the best solutions are to be made in life in order to live it correctly.

In addition to the opportunity to change one’s life and help someone, effective altruism teaches people kindness and love, respect and attention to the most precious things. Moreover, this philosophical movement teaches to differentiate good and bad and find happiness in minor things, changing one’s life for better. It is better to live for someone else and do good for others rather than search for personal benefits.

Effective altruism has positive influence on one’s life and mind

Literature knows many examples of effective altruism and its positive influence on both, the person who is saved and one, who helped. One of the examples is the shallow pond case, when the person had to save the boy, but sacrifice new fashionable and expensive clothes (Henriquez, 2016, p. 34). This case may give the rise to numerous opinions and arguments, whether it is correct to sacrifice something in favor of the unknown person, but realize that one will not reimburse the loses. From the point of view of effective altruism and ethics, it is morally correct and necessary to help people in need, without waiting positive feedback. This is the very nature and major essence of effective altruism, as a movement of people, who are ready to give a helpful hand and realize its necessity.

When speaking about the effective altruism, it is necessary to mention its nature and reasons. Using reason and sympathy, altruists hear its call in their heads and in our hearts. Since common sense is not a cold-blooded tool used only to achieve one’s own subjective goals, effective altruists specify that it is necessary to properly assess the situation. Effective altruism was founded by people from philosophy, mathematics, economics, which can be surprising, because people are used to believe that philosophy has nothing to do with harsh reality, economics for egoists, and mathematics for clever people only. In fact, the most outstanding altruists in history are Bill and Melinda Gates, as well as Warren Buffett – “clever”, who realized the effectiveness of charity and tried to assure others in its usefulness.

Why should I care?

The case shallow pond clearly demonstrates the position of many people, regarding the idea of altruism. People understand that helping others is a must; however, they cannot understand why they should help instead of the others. This is the major problem of modern people, who are not able to accept the reality.

Moreover, indifference is a problem of modernity, because people always try to find someone, on whom they may cast their responsibility. In this respect, effective altruism teaches that it is incorrect to search for the others, who would help people instead of you.


Fortunately, more and more people understand the idea of helping others for free. It has resulted in the development and growth of new popular movement, effective altruism that has united millions of people worldwide. It unites heart and mind. This philosophical movement teaches us to think about how effective and purposeful our actions are. In addition, it helps understand that other people, wherever they are, are like us, they suffer just like we do. Therefore, I believe that the mind is not an indifferent machine that helps us to achieve what we want. Reflections allow us to look at ourselves from a different point of view and learn that helping others is a necessity that can make every day better.


MacAskil, William. 2016. Doing Good Better: How Effective Altruism Can Help You Help Others, Do Work that Matters, and Make Smarter Choices about Giving Back. NY: Avery; Reprint edition

Henriquez, Danielle. 2016. Effective Altruism and Do No Harm: A Case for Harm-Sensitive Effective Altruism. Denver:  Scholars’ Press

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