Effective altruism

I discovered the very inspiring effective altruism community around 2015. As summarised on Wikipedia, “effective altruism is a philosophy and social movement that advocates using evidence and reasoning to determine the most effective ways to benefit others.”

Effective altruists focus their efforts, for example, on optimal ways to fight extreme poverty, improve the long-term future, and reduce animal suffering. If you’re interested in learning more, I recommend this great introduction to effective altruism.


Since 2015, I have donated regularly to effective causes recommended by GiveWell. In 2018, I took the Giving What We Can Pledge, making a solemn commitment to giving at least 10% of my income to the organisations that can do the most good with it.

“I recognise that I can use part of my income to do a significant amount of good. Since I can live well enough on a smaller income, I pledge that for the rest of my life or until the day I retire, I shall give at least ten percent of what I earn to whichever organisations can most effectively use it to improve the lives of others, now and in the years to come. I make this pledge freely, openly, and sincerely.” —The Giving What We Can Pledge


In late 2018, I published an interview with one of effective altruism’s key figures, Will MacAskill, on the website Five Books. Since then, I have kept reading up on this subject, with the aim of reading at least 50 of the most important books on effective altruism and its related areas over the next few years (listed below). Goodreads is currently my main source to identify books, but suggestions are always welcome!

  1. Superintelligence: Paths, Dangers, Strategies, by Nick Bostrom (published in 2014, read in 2018)
  2. 80,000 Hours: Find a fulfilling career that does good, by Benjamin Todd (2016, 2018)
  3. Superforecasting: The Art and Science of Prediction, by Philip E. Tetlock (2015, 2019)
  4. The Precipice: Existential Risk and the Future of Humanity, by Toby Ord (2020, 2020)
  5. Factfulness: Ten Reasons We’re Wrong About the World – and Why Things Are Better Than You Think, by Hans Rosling (2018, 2020)
Written on June 4, 2020