William MacAskill

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William MacAskill

Goodreads Author

in Glasgow




Member Since
February 2016

I'm Will MacAskill, an Associate Professor in Philosophy at Lincoln College, Oxford, and author of Doing Good Better (Gotham Books, 2015). I've also cofounded two 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. These organisations helped to spark the effective altruism movement. ...more

Average rating: 4.25 · 4,448 ratings · 521 reviews · 4 distinct worksSimilar authors
Doing Good Better: How Effe...

4.25 avg rating — 4,407 ratings — published 2015 — 15 editions
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Moral Uncertainty

4.24 avg rating — 33 ratings4 editions
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4.50 avg rating — 2 ratings
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The Effective Altruism Hand...

4.12 avg rating — 111 ratings — published 2015 — 3 editions
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“One additional unit of income can do a hundred times as much to the benefit the extreme poor as it can to benefit you or I [earning the typical US wage of $28,000 or ‎£18,000 per year]. [I]t's not often you have two options, one of which is a hundred times better than the other. Imagine a happy hour where you could either buy yourself a beet for $5 or buy someone else a beer for 5¢. If that were the case, we'd probably be pretty generous – next round's on me! But that's effectively the situation we're in all the time. It's like a 99% off sale, or buy one, get ninety-nine free. It might be the most amazing deal you'll see in your life.”
William MacAskill, Doing Good Better: How Effective Altruism Can Help You Make a Difference

“The challenge for us is this: How can we ensure that, when we try to help others, we do so as effectively as possible?”
William MacAskill, Doing Good Better: How Effective Altruism Can Help You Make a Difference

“When thinking about risk from transport, you can think directly in terms of minutes of life lost per hour of travel. Each time you travel, you face a slight risk of getting into a fatal accident, but the chance of getting into a fatal accident varies dramatically depending on the mode of transport. For example, the risk of a fatal car crash while driving for an hour is about one in ten million (so 0.1 micromorts). For a twenty-year-old, that’s a one-in-ten-million chance of losing sixty years. The expected life lost from driving for one hour is therefore three minutes. Looking at expected minutes lost shows just how great a discrepancy there is between risks from different sorts of transport. Whereas an hour on a train costs you only twenty expected seconds of life, an hour on a motorbike costs you an expected three hours and forty-five minutes. In addition to giving us a way to compare the risks of different activities, the concept of expected value helps us choose which risks are worth taking. Would you be willing to spend an hour on a motorbike if it was perfectly safe but caused you to be unconscious later for three hours and forty-five minutes? If your answer is no, but you’re otherwise happy to ride motorbikes in your day-to-day life, you’re probably not fully appreciating the risk of death.”
William MacAskill, Doing Good Better: How Effective Altruism Can Help You Make a Difference

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