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Effective altruism is a philosophy and social movement that applies evidence and reason to determining the most effective ways to improve the world. Effective altruism encourages individuals to consider all causes and actions, and then act in the way that brings about the greatest positive impact, based on their values. It is this broad, scientific approach that distinguishes effective altruism from traditional altruism or charity. While a substantial proportion of effective altruists have focused on the nonprofit sector, the philosophy of effective altruism applies much more broadly, e.g., to prioritizing the scientific projects, companies, and policy initiatives which can be estimated to save and improve the most lives. Notable people associated with the movement include philosopher Peter Singer, Facebook cofounder Dustin Moskovitz, Oxford based philosopher William MacAskill and researcher Toby Ord.
Effective altruism differs from other philanthropic practices because of its emphasis on quantitatively comparing charitable causes and interventions, with the goal of maximizing certain moral values. In this way it is similar to consequentialism, which some leaders of the movement explicitly endorse.
Although there is a growing emphasis on effectiveness and evidence among nonprofits, this is usually done with a single cause in mind, such as education or climate change. Effective altruists, however, seek to compare the relative importance of different causes.
Effective altruists attempt to choose the highest priority causes based on whether activities in each cause area could efficiently advance broad goals, such as increasing human or animal welfare. They then focus their attention on interventions in high priority areas. Several organizations are performing cause prioritization research.
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