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The Philosophical Bankruptcy of ‘Effective Altruism’

In this episode of New Ideal Live, Ben Bayer and Elan Journo discuss the philosophical bankruptcy of effective altruism and the movement’s role in FTX’s financial collapse.

Among the topics covered:

  • The connection between FTX’s financial collapse and the effective altruism movement, including CEO Sam Bankman-Fried’s goal of “earning to give”;
  • What effective altruism advocates and why its offshoot, “longtermism,” champions some unusual causes;
  • Why some of the common criticisms of effective altruism, such as the idea that it is a cynical ploy or that it is Utopian, miss the mark;
  • The real problem with effective altruism, as shown by some of its major advocates, as its demand for self-effacement and sacrifice;
  • How even secular altruists approach morality like a religion;
  • How effective altruism is a form of debased morality, which empties morality of meaningful guidance relevant to our everyday lives;
  • How a rational morality can be grounded in observable facts, not intuitions.

Mentioned in the discussion are Ayn Rand’s article “Moral Inflation,” published in The Ayn Rand Letter, and our episode of New Ideal Live, “Why MacAskill is Wrong about What We Owe the Future.”

This episode was recorded on December 16, 2022. Listen to the discussion below. Listen and subscribe from your mobile device on Apple PodcastsGoogle PodcastsSpotify or Stitcher. Watch previous episodes here.

Podcast audio:


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Dan Schwartz

Dan Schwartz, PhD in philosophy and formerly a professor, is a visiting fellow at the Ayn Rand Institute.

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