The Most Good You Can Do

The Most Good You Can Do

How Effective Altruism Is Changing Ideas About Living Ethically

Book - 2015
Average Rating:
Rate this:
From the ethicist the New Yorker calls "the most influential living philosopher," a new way of thinking about living ethically

Peter Singer's books and ideas have been disturbing our complacency ever since the appearance of Animal Liberation . Now he directs our attention to a new movement in which his own ideas have played a crucial role: effective altruism. Effective altruism is built upon the simple but profound idea that living a fully ethical life involves doing the "most good you can do." Such a life requires an unsentimental view of charitable giving: to be a worthy recipient of our support, an organization must be able to demonstrate that it will do more good with our money or our time than other options open to us. Singer introduces us to an array of remarkable people who are restructuring their lives in accordance with these ideas, and shows how living altruistically often leads to greater personal fulfillment than living for oneself.

The Most Good You Can Do develops the challenges Singer has made, in the New York Times and Washington Post , to those who donate to the arts, and to charities focused on helping our fellow citizens, rather than those for whom we can do the most good. Effective altruists are extending our knowledge of the possibilities of living less selfishly, and of allowing reason, rather than emotion, to determine how we live. The Most Good You Can Do offers new hope for our ability to tackle the world's most pressing problems.
Publisher: New Haven ; London : Yale University Press, 2015.
ISBN: 9780300180275
Branch Call Number: 171.8 SINGER P
Characteristics: xiii, 211 pages ; 22 cm.


From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment

Mar 10, 2018

I do NOT like this book!
Singer fails to challenge and reinforces the very paradigm that is creating so much tragedy in this world. He obviously believes that harms and suffering can be quantified economically, and this alone provides the only lens that matters. Furthermore, his calculations completely fail to take into account whole classes of harms.
Singer gives as an example his student Matt Wage, who took Singer's ethic's class at Princeton which persuaded him that he could do more good taking a high-paying job on Wall Street, then continuing his study of ethics, because his Wall Street salary enabled him to donate more money to help others.
This example completely omits the massive world-wide harms that Wall Street inflicts, and how someone with Matt's character joining Wall Street appears to sanction and contribute to those harms.
This is the gist of, "Effective Altruism." It is a whole new level of justification for continuing to embrace harmful things.
Just look at what has happened with Nick Cooney, Wayne Pacelle, and Paul Shapiro -- all leaders in the animal advocacy movement. Those who get the big picture of harms here -- were not surprised at all to see these men accused of misusing their positions in ways that harmed women -- because their advocacy on behalf of animals was similarly playing into and perpetuating harms there too...and yet Singer's perspective would have more of us work on Wall Street, and then donate as much as we could to keep people like Pacelle, Shapiro and Cooney empowered.
Harmful actions must ALWAYS be challenged -- no matter how much good an organization or individual is also doing. The ends does NOT justify the means. If we want to create a peaceful and just society, we will not get there by using non-peaceful unjust methods. We must BE the change. Consider...if Donald Trump gave away half his assets to help poor people....would that mean we should give him a free pass on sexually assaulting women?
This essay speaks a bit more to this:

Jan 21, 2016

Traditions like Hinduism and Buddhism for centuries have advocated Dharma means effectively Ethical Living, most have fallen on deaf ears (years! It is sad that this ancient topic is re-broadcast in a new bottle. I am sure the English speaking public will notice the repeated message. Thanks for Reading

Jul 09, 2015

Obviously I was drawn to this book due to it's title and theme and once I had read the first three chapters I didn't need to read anymore. Sure, I learned some things I didn't already know-the nuances of ethical living but a lot of it fairly repetitive and based on what seemed like an endless trotting out of case studies in an effort to keep ramming his point home.

Apr 28, 2015

Very well written. It helped me see how I could do much, much more good with my time and money. I did feel a bit judged at times, but the point of this book is to find out how you could help others better, and if you feel bad at parts, it's probably because you are having some self realizations... Excellent read, recommended.


Add Age Suitability

There are no ages for this title yet.


Add a Summary

There are no summaries for this title yet.


Add Notices

There are no notices for this title yet.


Add a Quote

There are no quotes for this title yet.

Explore Further

Browse by Call Number


Subject Headings


Find it at LPL

To Top