Essays in Philosophy

Volume 18, Issue 1, January 2017

Effective Altruism

Alida Liberman
Pages 6-29

Effective altruism and Christianity
possibilities for productive collaboration

While many Christians accept the claim that giving to support the poor and needy is a core moral and religious obligation, most Christian giving is usually not very efficient in EA terms. In this paper, I explore possibilities for productive collaboration between effective altruists (EAs) and Christian givers. I argue that Christians are obligated from their own perspective to give radically in terms of quantity and scope to alleviate the suffering of the poor and needy. I raise two important potential stumbling blocks for EAChristian collaboration. First, Christians (especially those who believe in an infinite heaven and hell) cannot assess outcomes using a straightforward utilitarian calculus of the sort preferred by many EAs, lest they run into a reductio. Second, Christians will want to give to support aims such as worship and evangelism that are not shared by secular EAs and that are not easily commensurable, making the allocation of giving resources more difficult. I conclude with some tentative suggestions about how Christians who are sympathetic to EA might become more effective in their giving.