Books : reviews

William MacAskill.
Doing Good Better: effective altruism and a radical new way to make a difference.
Guardian Books. 2015

Most of us want to make a difference. We donate to charity, volunteer, buy fairtrade coffee, or try to cut down our carbon emissions. Rarely do we know if we’re really helping. Despite our best intentions, our actions can lead to ineffective and sometimes downright harmful outcomes. Confronting this problem head-on, William MacAskill developed the concept of effective altruism, a practical, data-driven approach to turn do-gooding into doing the most good.

Urging us to think differently and use both the head and the heart, MacAskill shows that each of us has the power to do an astonishing amount of good. His conclusions are often surprising: Doing Good Better reveals the moral case for buying sweatshop-produced goods; how cosmetic surgeons can do more good than charity workers; and why giving to disaster relief is generally not the best way to help the poor.

By examining the charities we give to, the volunteering we do, the goods we buy and the careers we pursue, this fascinating and original guide shows how, through simple actions, you can improve thousands of lives – including your own.