The Singer Solution to World Poverty

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From the point of view of one of the founders of the direction, Peter Singer, effective altruism deprives anonymous charity of meaning. In the past, when benefactors lived close to beneficiaries, generosity could be used to buy loyalty. But now, philanthropists may never meet the people they helped in person, so it is better for the upper class to compete in the size of their donations than in the size of their yachts. In fact, effective altruism is an attempt to restore normality to the selfless desire to do something good in a world where selfish motives are considered acceptable.

Analysis of Singer’s Ideas

In many works, Peter Singer speaks largely of the concept of effective altruism. It would be more accurate to attribute it to a direction in practical ethics. The effective altruism approach is about finding the most underestimated problem and finding a solution that is as cost-effective as possible in terms of results obtained (Singer). Essentially, the concept of effective altruism was developed as an ultimate solution to a number of social issues around the world with a rational approach.

The most famous theorists of effective altruism are the philosophers Peter Singer and William MacAskill, the practitioners are GiveWell founders Holden Karnofsky and Eli Hassenfeld, and among the main research, centers are 80,000 Hours, the Open Philanthropy Project, the Global Priorities Institute at Oxford, Rethink Charity and the Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Alleviation Laboratory (J-PAL) at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. This is not to say that effective altruism is developed by a few individuals or organizations, although there are quite a few NGOs and research centers that support its principles (Gabriel 457). Hence, in addition to its basic purpose, effective altruism also aimed to fill the gaps in global philanthropy that existed at the time.

In a famous article, Peter Singer considers the problem of international philanthropy from the point of view of moral philosophy. Pointing to the significant progress in the development of infrastructure (communications, transportation, etc.) achieved by 1972, Singer notes that our moral position is no longer associated only with the local communities and contexts in which we live (Singer). In modern times, the spatial distance of people from each other no longer plays a significant role in the moral assessment of our actions, such as donating to charity.

Singer believes that the financially prosperous inhabitants of the "first world", with extra resources and money, are obliged to help other countries in extreme distress (the reason for writing the essay was a massive famine in East Bengal). Moreover, such charitable assistance:

  • should be considered more necessary and important than helping one's local community;

  • should be considered a moral obligation, not an accidental act of good will.

There are many controversial and widely criticized positions in effective altruism. So, Peter Singer called donations to cultural institutions immoral while the world is experiencing extreme poverty and people are still dying of curable diseases. Of course, this radical position would cause a catastrophe in the field of art if everyone really followed it. But in his strict and impassioned programmatic book, Singer presupposes that he and his supporters will be rather a minority. The maximum effect advocates of effective altruism hope for is to shift some of the investments from the overheated market for art and luxury goods to charity. Calls to prefer international charitable projects to combat extreme poverty should be interpreted in the same way (Gabriel 358). Most donations in the US go to local religious organizations, and even a large community of effective altruists is unlikely to change the situation dramatically.


Renowned Australian moral philosopher Professor Peter Singer is one of the foremost thinkers on the social impact and ethical implications of new technologies. Professor Singer is a Professor of Bioethics at the University Center for Human Values ​​at Princeton University, United States of America (program supported by Ira W. DeCamp). He has written books such as Animal Liberation, Practical Ethics, Rethinking Life and Death, The Life You Can Save, and The Best Thing You Can Do, his latest book is called Why You Should Transition for veganism?" In 2012, he became a Companion of the Order of Australia, that is, he was awarded the country's highest civilian award. In June 2018, Professor Singer gave a public lecture at WIPO.

Works Cited

Gabriel, Iason. "Effective Altruism and Its Critics". Journal Of Applied Philosophy, vol 34, no. 4, 2016, pp. 457-473. Wiley, Accessed 10 June 2022.

Singer, Peter. "The Singer Solution to World Poverty". The New York Time Magazine, 1999,

June 14, 2022


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