William MacAskill is one of the most important moral philosophers of our time. Currently, MacAskill is a research fellow at the Global Priorities Institute at Oxford. He is mainly known for founding two meta-charities, 80,000 Hours & Giving What We Can. Along with Princeton University professor, Peter Singer, he is known to have popularised Effective Altruism, which promotes an effective work ethic or choice in a career path in order to do the most good.
In this blog post, we’ll be discussing MacAskill’s most recent TED talk. I’ll outline some of his main points.
In order to attain the most good, MacAskill asks us to consider these two options in choosing one’s career:
- The impact you will have on that job.
- How this job sets you up to have a bigger impact in life.
You wouldn’t think that you’d be able to do a lot if you had a job in computing, MacAskill points out. Bill Gates has proved the opposite, donating billions of dollars to his charity the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. MacAskill’s calculations say that towards the end of Gates’ life, he will have saved 5 million lives.
“The amount of time you’ll spend in later jobs is far greater than the amount of time you spend in your early jobs. Pick jobs and ways to work that set you up for greater positive impact.”
3 Further Things to Consider in Choosing a Job:
- How this job contributes to your career capital (your skills, the job as a credential).
- How this job keeps your doors open.
- How much you are learning in the course of that job (what the world needs).
MacAskill then goes on to talk about particular career options that may help you do good. Entrepreneurs, for example, are currently seen as thought leaders. Think about the influence of Gary Vaynerchuk or Seth Godin, among many others.
Research is another area that is very influential in policy influence. Scientists and innovators are undersupplied by both the market & government.
The most influential people today are politicians of course. Think of Abraham Lincoln, Winston Churchill, Angela Merkel. The ability to enter politics, however, is incredibly skewed.
The chance for some Oxford students, however, to become an MP (Member of Parliament) is as high as 1 in 3. MacAskill elaborates, saying that “That represents mobility in the UK.”
Studying Politics, Philosophy, & Economics at Oxford is an amazing opportunity to do a lot of good, “potentially influencing how billions of dollars are spent in government spending and legislation on a global scale.”
If you do not enter government, you are still able to have a large advocacy impact or influence thought via the policy world or through think tanks.
Whether you decide to be an entrepreneur, go into research or politics, there are many options to do good in this world.
I have decided to study Politics, Philosophy, & Economics — an undergraduate degree that originated at Oxford University. I wonder whether you have made a shift in your career aspirations due to the influence of philanthropic projects. Let me know in the comments!
I hope this inspires you to do more good and to be more efficient in choosing a lifestyle for yourself. Make sure to check out the TED talk!
Before you go…
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I write to keep you thinking and to keep me thankful and reflective. Cheers and until next time,