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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, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use.date: 03 July 2022

Effective Altruism, Global Poverty, and Systemic Change

Effective Altruism, Global Poverty, and Systemic Change

(p.99) 7 Effective Altruism, Global Poverty, and Systemic Change
Effective Altruism

Iason Gabriel

Brian McElwee

Oxford University Press

In this chapter, Iason Gabriel and Brian McElwee examine the status of interventions aimed at bringing about large-scale systemic change. According to Gabriel and McElwee, in the domain of global poverty, (i) philanthropic interventions favoured by effective altruists tend to take the form of “low-value/high-confidence” narrowly focused practical interventions, but (ii) it is quite likely that there are “medium-value/medium-confidence” interventions tackling global poverty via systemic change that are ex ante better. In other contexts, effective altruism definitely does take seriously “high-value/low-confidence” interventions (namely, efforts to mitigate extinction risk), so there does not seem to be any simple bias towards high confidence at work here. The explanation Gabriel and McElwee suggest lies in an understandable yet still misguided preference for political neutrality within the effective altruism movement.

Keywords:   global poverty, systemic change, institutional economics, evaluation methodologies, advocacy evaluation, randomized controlled trials, political neutrality

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