Summary of The Most Good You Can Do

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  • Controversial
  • Innovative
  • Well Structured


“Effective altruism” pioneer Peter Singer advocates taking a pragmatic approach to giving. To reduce suffering and save lives, do your research and place your money with organizations where it will do the most good. Singer provides giving guidelines and noteworthy case studies of people whose lifestyles support these ideals. The chapters about how to choose a charity will intrigue readers who are willing to wrestle with philosophical questions such as whether curing blindness or feeding the starving is the worthier cause. For others, the inherent challenges of these moral dilemmas can make the book a weighty read that poses ethical questions. Though Singer’s concept of what makes a donation most valuable may spark some debates, getAbstract finds that this practical approach to giving will intrigue anyone looking for effective ways to help others.  

About the Author

Princeton University bioethics professor Peter Singer’s other books include Animal Liberation, Practical Ethics and The Life You Can Save.



“Effective Altruism”

Effective altruism is “a philosophy and social movement which applies evidence and reason to working out the most effective ways to improve the world.” Take Matt Wage as an example of an effective altruist. He turned down a prestigious postgraduate position at the University of Oxford to pursue a career on Wall Street. Within a year, he began donating half his salary to effective charities, and soon he was well on his way to meeting his personal goal of saving 100 lives every year throughout his lifetime. Some effective altruists choose high-paying careers and live modestly so they can donate as much as possible. They spread the word about effective giving to attract more people to the movement.

Research and Reason

Effective altruists investigate which charities are most successful at helping others and then decide where to place their donations. Compare their choices with those of “warm-glow givers,” those who make small donations to several charities that touch their emotions. For example, the Make-A-Wish Foundation makes dreams come true for children who are suffering from potentially fatal illnesses...

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