How Effective Altruism
Can Help You Help Others,
Do Work that Matters,
and Make Smarter Choices
About Giving Back
by William MacAskill
Doing Good Better is the book chosen to accompany the Center for Spiritual Living Santa Rosa theme for September 2017
While a researcher at Oxford, William MacAskill decided to study a deceptively simple question: How can we make better decisions about giving back? He had realized that while most of us want to make a difference, we often decide how to do so based on assumptions and emotions rather than acts. As a result, our good intentions often lead to ineffective, sometimes downright harmful, outcomes.
As an antidote, MacAskill and his colleagues developed effective altruism—a practical, data-driven approach to doing good that allows us to make a tremendous difference regardless of our resources. Effective altruists operate by asking certain key questions, which force them to think differently, overcome biases, and use evidence and careful reasoning rather than act on impulse. In Doing Good Better, MacAskill lays out these principles and shows that, when we use them correctly—when we apply the head and the heart to each of our altruistic endeavors—each of us has the power to do an astonishing amount of good.
"Beautifully written and extremely smart. Doing Good Better should be required reading for anyone interested in making the world better."
—Steven D. Levitt, #1 New York Times-bestselling coauthor of Freakonomics and When to Rob a Bank
William MacAskill is an associate professor in philosophy at the University of Oxford and the cofounder of the organizations Giving What We Can and 80,000 Hours. These nonprofits have raised more than $600 million in lifetime-pledged donations to charity and have helped spark the effective altruism movement. MacAskill is a regular contributor to Quartz and has written for The New Yorker, The Guardian, The Independent, Time, and The Washington Post. He lives in Oxford, England.