Top News, Articles, and Interviews in Philosophy

Philanthropy Vouchers and Public Debate: Political vs Civic Advocacy

It's interesting to compare the ways we talk and think about political vs non-political (civic/philanthropic or market) agents, advocacy, and organization.  Consider the common objection to Effective Altruism, that it allegedly "neglects the need for systemic change."  I've rebutted this objection before, but a different aspect of it that I want to focus on today is that the criticism seems to presuppose that only politics can be systemic.  But why assume that?EAs advocate that everyone donate at least 10% of their incomes to effective causes.  If that happened, the world would be radically transformed: ending extreme poverty, material deprivation, and easily preventable disease, forever.  So if that's not a "systemic change", I don't know what is.  Admittedly, what we're calling for (in the first instance) is change to the behaviour of agents in the system, rather than changes to the rules of the system.  But changing the rules also requires behaviour (just of a political sort), so it's not entirely clear what the basis is for seeing any deep distinction or disagreement here.Perhaps the thought is that the sort of 'systemic change' constituted by universal acceptance of Effective Altruism is just too unrealistic.  That might seem an odd criticism for political radicals (of all people) to make, but it's certainly more probable that (enough) people change their political behaviour to elect a radical [More]

Charity Vouchers: Decentralizing Public Spending

People sometimes object to the charitable tax deduction on grounds that it is "undemocratic", incentivizing wealthy individuals to exert philanthropic influence instead of filling the public purse. On the other hand, well-targeted philanthropy surely achieves more good than paying extra to the government (which may just go to paying down the public debt, funding unnecessary wars, military parades for the Great Patriotic Leader, corporate welfare, and tax breaks for the wealthy).  If choosing where best to donate your money, "the US government" would seem an unlikely answer.  We recognize that charities could use extra funds more effectively. So it seems worth exploring ways to boost the philanthropic sector whilst avoiding the potential downside of concentrating power in the hands of the ultra-wealthy. The obvious solution: charity vouchers.Charity vouchers would be a bit like basic income, but only usable for donations to eligible charitable organizations. Every citizen would receive charity vouchers (e.g. $1000 per month), to decentralize public spending and social responsibility.  To overcome collective action problems and benefit from economies of scale, individuals could choose to transfer their vouchers to a trusted 'meta' organization (like GiveWell) to disburse on their behalf.Like basic income, charity vouchers nicely separate the issues of "redistribution" and "size of government". They're the sort of thing that small-government [More]

MacAskill on Aid Skepticism

The whole paper is great, but I especially wanted to share his concluding remarks:Often, critics of Peter Singer focus on whether or not aid is effective. But that is fundamentally failing to engage with core of Singer’s argument. Correctly understood, that argument is about the ethics of buying luxury goods, not the ethics of global development. Even if it turned out that every single development program that we know of does more harm than good, that fact would not mean that we can buy a larger house, safe in the knowledge that we have no pressing moral obligations of beneficence upon us. There are thousands of pressing problems that call out for our attention and that we could make significant inroads on with our resources. Here is an incomplete list of what $10,000 can do (noting, in each case, that any cost-effectiveness estimates are highly uncertain, with large error bars, and refer to expected value):Spare 20 years’ worth of unnecessary incarceration, while not reducing public safety, by donating to organisations working in criminal justice reform (Open Philanthropy Project 2017b).Spare 1.2 million hens from the cruelty of battery cages by donating to corporate cage-free campaigns (Open Philanthropy Project 2016).Reduce the chance of a civilisation-ending global pandemic by funding policy research and advocacy on biosecurity issues (Open Philanthropy Project 2014).Contribute to a more equitable international order by funding policy analysis and [More]

Latest News


Here are some of the things going on in philosophy
and the humanities.

See all News Items

Philosopher Spotlight


Conversations with philosophers, professional and non-professional alike.
Visit our podcast section for more interviews and conversations.

Interview with

Dr. Robert McKim
  • on Religious Diversity
  • Professor of Religion and Professor of Philosophy
  • Focuses on Philosophy of Religion
  • Ph.D. Yale

Interview with

Dr. Alvin Plantinga
  • on Where the Conflict Really Lies
  • Emeritus Professor of Philosophy (UND)
  • Focuses on Epistemology, Metaphysics, Philosophy of Religion
  • Ph.D. Yale

Interview with

Dr. Peter Boghossian
  • on faith as a cognitive sickness
  • Teaches Philosophy at Portland State University (Oregon)
  • Focuses on atheism and critical thinking
  • Has a passion for teaching in prisons
See all interviews

30500

Twitter followers

10000+

News items posted

32000+

Page views per month

21 years

in publication

Latest Articles


\
See all Articles