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Extreme altruism: should you care for strangers at the expense of your family?


Stashed in: Awesome, Restore your faith in humanity., Give and Take, Longreads, Altruism

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A deeply troubling but thought-provoking essay about a small group of people who GENUINELY love their neighbors as themselves -- who don't even derive joy or social esteem from giving away large percentages of their salaries to help others, but simply think of it as a binding moral principle like not murdering. When you read about how someone like this thinks through buying a candy apple or having a child... it really makes you wonder whether you're living an examined life at all.

Good read. Really made me think about how much giving a person should do.

As the effective altruism movement continued to grow, Ord’s Giving What We Can co-founder, another philosopher named William MacAskill, founded a brother organisation, 80,000 Hours, to help the altruistically minded think about how they could do the most good with the hours of their working lives. MacAskill wanted to spread the idea that an altruistic type should not necessarily follow one of the traditional do-gooder paths – becoming an aid worker or a doctor in a developing country, say – but should consider a career that would earn a lot of money which he could then donate. MacAskill called this “earning to give”. The idea began to catch on. An American student went to work in finance; in his first year out of college, he donated $100,000 to anti-poverty organisations. A British student graduated with an engineering degree; he had planned to move to Africa and build dams, but he went to work for an investment bank and donated money instead. Dozens more, after consulting with 80,000 Hours, were planning to do something similar.

Always better to be "otherish" than a totally "selfless" giver. The "selfless" givers suffer burnout

Right, you don't want to risk burnout. Giving should be done at a sustainable rate. 

Apparently for these people, this level of giving is sustainable.

They are very unusual. Most people would be exhausted by this level of giving. 

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