“We want to disaggregate benefits and aggregate costs.” – William MacAskill
Will MacAskill (@willmacaskill) is an Associate Professor in Philosophy at Lincoln College, Oxford. Just 28 years old, he is likely the youngest associate (i.e. tenured) professor of philosophy in the world.
Will is the author of Doing Good Better and a co-founder of the “effective altruism” movement. He has pledged to donate everything he earns over ~$36,000 per year to whatever charities he believes will be most effective.
He has also cofounded two well-known non-profits: 80,000 Hours, which provides research and advice on how you can best make a difference through your career, and Giving What We Can, which encourages people to commit to give at least 10% of their income to the most effective charities. Between them, they have raised more than $450 million in lifetime pledged donations, and are in the top 1% of non-profits in terms of growth.
He is one of the few non-profit founders who have gone through Y Combinator; for-profit companies get $120,000 for 7% of equity; as a non-profit, 80,000 Hours got $100,000 for 0% of equity.
In this episode, we discuss his story and a ton of actionable tips, including:
- Why “following your passion” in a career is often a mistake.
- Thought experiments: Pascal’s Wager versus Pascal’s Mugging.
- Why working for a non-profit straight out of college is also a mistake.
- How it’s possible to “hack” doing good in the same way you would a business.
- Implications of artificial intelligence.
- The best ways to really evaluate if you (or charities) are going good in the world.
- The reasons donating to disaster relief typically isn’t the best use of your money.
- Why ethical consumerism typically isn’t a great way to do good.
- Running a non-profit in the Harvard/Navy SEALs of startup incubators: Y Combinator.
- Listen to it on iTunes.
- Stream by clicking here.
- Download as an MP3 by right-clicking here and choosing “save as.”
Want to hear another podcast related to philosophy from a world class philosopher? — Listen to my conversation with Sam Harris. In this episode, we discuss his daily routines, the Trolley Scenario, and 5 books everyone should read (stream below or right-click here to download):
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QUESTION(S) OF THE DAY: What is your favorite charity and why do you donate? Please let me know in the comments.
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