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Effective AltruismPhilosophical Issues$
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Hilary Greaves and Theron Pummer

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780198841364

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2019

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198841364.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 24 October 2021

Should We Give to More Than One Charity?

Should We Give to More Than One Charity?

(p.69) 5 Should We Give to More Than One Charity?
Effective Altruism

James Snowden

Oxford University Press

In this chapter, James Snowden examines whether and why a donor might have good reason to split their donations among different charities, rather than give to a single charity. Snowden argues that, in simplified decision contexts, donors maximize expected utility by giving to only one charity. He engages with recent work on risk aversion in decision theory (e.g. by Lara Buchak), arguing that there is an important difference between self-regarding and other-regarding choices. When choosing between lotteries that affect the welfare of others, we should reject risk aversion, instead maximizing expected welfare. In more complex and realistic contexts, there may be various reasons to donate to multiple charities, consistent with maximizing expected utility. However, Snowden argues that the most persuasive such reasons apply to large grant-making institutions rather than typical individual donors.

Keywords:   risk aversion, diversification, charity, multiple charities, expected utility, decision theory, uncertainty

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