Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association

Volume 95, 2021

The Diakonia of Truth

Ryan Michael Miller
Pages 117-139

80,000 Hours for the Common Good
A Thomistic Appraisal of Effective Altruism

Effective Altruism is a rapidly growing and influential contemporary philosophical movement committed to updating utilitarianism in both theory and practice. The movement focuses on identifying urgent but neglected causes and inspiring supererogatory giving to meet the need. It also tries to build a broader coalition by adopting a more ecumenical approach to ethics which recognizes a wide range of values and moral constraints. These interesting developments distinguish Effective Altruism from the utilitarianism of the past in ways that invite cooperation and warrant a fresh look from Thomists. Nonetheless Effective Altruism’s fundamentally consequentialist and aggregative model for ethics precludes more foundational agreement with Thomistic ethics in ways that limit the extent of practical cooperation.