Reflecting on my past year as a Global Health Corps fellow, I wanted to talk a bit about identity, ideology, and social change. Although this is my personal narrative, I believe that shrinking our identity and moving past ideology as much as one can are key steps to maximizing the positive impact that we have on the world.
Some philosophical questions are genuinely difficult, and yet working on them can be important (see my earlier example of Derek Parfit's work on population ethics in Reasons and Persons, Part IV). Reasonably bright people can understand Parfit's work on these issues, but not without putting in some work.
William MacAskill is that rare creature: a true visionary and iconoclast, a bright rising star in the too often stodgy field of philanthropy. Like many people in the Effective Altruism movement, I anticipated this week's release of MacAskill's book Doing Good Better: How Effective Altruism Can Help You Make a Difference.
Utilitarianism says that we should always do what will have the best consequences for all those affected by our actions. "Best consequences" generally refers to well-being, in some sense, although utilitarians differ on whether this means happiness, and the reduction of suffering, or something like the satisfaction of preferences.