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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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Demanding the Demanding

Demanding the Demanding

(p.137) 9 Demanding the Demanding
Effective Altruism

Ben Sachs

Oxford University Press

Several authors have worried, or anyway assumed, that confronting people with highly demanding moral requirements would be counterproductive, in the sense of causing people to turn away from morality, and thus actually decreasing (for instance) amounts donated. In this chapter, Ben Sachs notes that whether or not such behaviour would be counterproductive is a non-obvious empirical matter. After reviewing the available evidence, Sachs concludes that we should not be at all confident that “demanding the demanding” would be counterproductive. Sachs argues that more empirical studies are needed, but tentatively defends a theory of moral psychology according to which, when people are confronted with a demanding ethical theory (like act-consequentialism) they will, if they accept the theory, respond by coming close to conforming to it.

Keywords:   demandingness, counterproductivity, effective altruism, moral psychology, invitational strategy, act-consequentialism, Peter Singer

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