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Princeton University

Effective Altruism

Princeton University via Coursera


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Effective altruism is built on the simple but unsettling idea that living a fully ethical life involves doing the most good one can. In this course you will examine this idea's philosophical underpinnings; meet remarkable people who have restructured their lives in accordance with it; and think about how effective altruism can be put into practice in your own life. All the features of this course are available for free. It does not offer a certificate upon completion.


  • Getting Started with the Course
    • This week we share what this course is about. We will give those of you who do not have a background in philosophy, or who need a refresher, an opportunity to study two areas of ethics: meta-ethics and normative ethical theories.
  • Poverty and Affluence
    • What obligations do the affluent have towards those who live in extreme poverty? This week we look at one distinct argument based on consequentialist ethics and also begin the discussion of the effectiveness of aid programs. This week also includes a conversation with Raymond Offenheiser. Furthermore, we discuss poverty as human rights violations. You will also find a conversation with Dean Karlan about effective solutions to poverty problems in this week.
  • What is the Best Cause? How Much Ought We Do to Help Others?
    • How do you get the most value for your charitable dollars? How can you compare different causes to each other, and how do you compare different charities to each other? One of the guests this week is Elie Hassenfeld from GiveWell, an organization that tries to find the answers to these questions. This week you will also meet three individuals who in different ways embody the ideal of effective altruism: Zell Kravinsky, Julia Wise and Alexander Berger.
  • Effective Altruism and Career Choice
    • This week Will MacAskill and Matt Wage discuss effective altruism and career choice.
  • The Giving Game
    • In this week you will have the opportunity to play the Giving Game.
  • Why Act Ethically?
    • In this last week, we circle back to some foundational questions in ethics. What is the relationship between rationality, self-interest, and ethics? How demanding is morality, and why exactly should be trying to live an ethical life? In this week you will also find the final essay assignment. Now that you have reached the end of the course, we would also very much appreciate your feedback. You may either submit a review on Class Central by going to — which will also help other learners discover the course — or send us an email to [email protected]. Thank you!

Taught by

Peter Singer


4.5 rating, based on 12 Class Central reviews

4.7 rating at Coursera based on 726 ratings

Start your review of Effective Altruism

  • Anonymous
    I took this course to suppliment Professor Paul Bloom's course "Moralities of Everyday Life." That was an entertaining course, and Professor Bloom spoke of Peter Singer as having a massive influence on his ideas, so I chose to check this one out to…
  • I tend to like courses that do the recordings for the course anew more, since recording existing lectures seems a bit lazy. However, these lectures were interesting, but sometimes it was difficult to hear audience questions. There are no assignments…
  • Anonymous
    i like this course. it is fun. makes you ponder, starts off a bit tedious, and then ends pretty cool and simplified. i think its effective in getting people to give if they earn. like that he utilizes the people who have taken his course, read his b…
  • Helena Mcmullin
    This course is a wonderfully concise exploration of key considerations in ethics, and how taking an ethical approach to life may or may not serve you, depending on your personal point of view. In a time of individuality and self-interest, this is a…
  • Elizabeth Simmons
    This course is essential for personal development and for anyone wanting a practical understanding of ethical philosophy. I took this course initially for academic reasons. However, the thought-provoking material of this course cannot help but move you personally. It is a course I will be contemplating for a lifetime to come.
  • Anonymous
    I was highly impressed by Professor Singer's way of treating the complex subject. His course is very informative and due to the practical exemples he uses, it's easier to understand theories. It was a real pleasure listening to him.

    Also great: the guests he invited to the classes and who showed various possibilities of how to live effective altruism.

    The class also initiates me to re-think about my own attitude when I donate. And also to get more information about the way organizations work and what's their aim.

    I highly recommend the course!
  • Anonymous
    nice a very nice course it tells you that altruism can help you live a happy life and help others
  • I loved this course. I felt so helpless and insignificant in the face of the problems facing humanity. As a result of doing this course, I feel that I have received the advice and gained the knowledge that will enable me to take the right decisions and make a difference.
  • Cuneyt Anadolu
  • Peter Hartree
  • Esma Sert
    I really enjoyed in this course. These all theories and ideas are extremely informing and enlightening about the ethical rules and life itself.

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