Doing Good Better - Summary and Key Ideas

"Doing Good Better" presents the philosophy of effective altruism, which combines empathy with evidence-based reasoning to maximize the positive impact of one's actions. It provides a framework of five key questions to guide decision-making in charitable giving, career choices, and ethical consumption.

The target group of "Doing Good Better" are individuals who are interested in altruism and want to maximize the impact of their charitable actions, whether through donations, career choices, or everyday decisions.

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Doing Good Better

Key ideas


The concept of effective altruism can maximize the impact of the global 1% in addressing stark income disparities.


The principle of hard trade-offs in effective altruism urges us to critically evaluate our actions, whether in charity or career choices, to maximize positive impact.

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Effective altruism can save lives, but it requires understanding the marginal value of our contributions, not just their average value.

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Charitable giving is often driven more by emotional responses to widely publicized disasters than by rational assessment of where funds can have the greatest impact.

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The potential to make a significant positive impact on the world lies within ordinary individuals leading ordinary lives, not just extraordinary individuals in extraordinary circumstances.

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Overhead costs and CEO pay are flawed indicators of a charity's effectiveness; the true measure should be its impact on improving lives.

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While ethical consumerism is commendable, ending extreme poverty is the key to improving sweatshop conditions.

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"Follow your passion" is flawed career advice; job satisfaction stems more from certain job features and evolving interests than pre-existing passions.

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Balancing the fight against climate change and extreme poverty requires careful consideration of economic costs, potential impacts, and personal passion.

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Summary & Review

Doing Good Better by William MacAskill provides a guide to effective altruism, a philosophy that uses evidence and reasoning to determine the most effective ways to benefit others. MacAskill presents five key questions to help readers think like effective altruists and make the most significant positive impact possible. These questions encourage readers to consider how many people benefit from their actions, whether their actions are the most effective, whether the area they're focusing on is neglected, what would have happened without their involvement, and the chances of success and potential payoff of their actions.

William MacAskill

William MacAskill is a Scottish philosopher and ethicist. He is an Associate Professor in Philosophy at Oxford University and a co-founder of the effective altruism movement, which aims to use evidence and reason to determine the most effective ways to improve the world.

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