17 September: Online meeting on Effective Altruism

Thursday 17th September 2020

Effective Altruism by Dr Simon Jenkins. Online Meeting, 7.30 pm start.

Dr Simon Jenkins of the Philosophy Department at Warwick University will talk about Effective Altruism which is all about changing the way we do good.

Effective altruism asks one simple question: how can we use our resources to help others the most? Rather than just doing what feels right, we can use evidence and careful analysis to find the very best causes to work on. But it’s no use answering the question unless you act on it. Effective altruism is about following through. It’s about being generous with your time and your money to do the most good you can.

Most of us want to make a difference. We see suffering, injustice and death, and are moved to do something about them. But working out what that ‘something’ is, let alone actually doing it, can be a difficult and disheartening challenge.

Effective altruism is a response to this challenge. It is a research field which uses high-quality evidence and careful reasoning to work out how to help others as much as possible. It is also a community of people taking these answers seriously, by focusing their efforts on the most promising solutions to the world’s most pressing problems.

Although humanists live without religion, Shropshire Humanists are inclusive and welcome all, including those with any or no religious faith.

This is the ZOOM link to attend.

Ethical Consumption Talk Review

A recording of the recent ZOOM talk to Shropshire Humanists by Alex Crumbie about Ethical Consumption can be seen here:

A review by Shropshire Humanists member, Nick Marshall

Nick Marshall

The talk given on Thursday August 20th to a Shropshire Humanists Zoom meeting by Alex Crumbie of Ethical Consumer magazine was one of the most impressive that I have attended.

Alex anticipated and answered my principal misgiving about Ethical Consumerism right at the beginning of his talk. Consumerism, consumer culture, consumer capitalism… surely these things are inherently bad for us and for our planet? Yes, that’s true – but consumption of some things is unavoidable if we are to survive and to lead rewarding lives. Many of us want to make better choices about what we consume, ones with which we can feel comfortable. And we want our spending to influence what is offered to us, steering businesses in the directions we would prefer that they take. To achieve these objectives we need to be well informed. Enabling us by providing that information is what the Ethical Consumer organisation is about.  

Alex’s expertise and the completeness of his research were very obvious from his talk. He covered many kinds of goods and services – food, power, clothes (including fashion), investment… and looked at them from a variety of viewpoints – environment, animal welfare, workers’ rights, transparency. He seemed to have thought of everything. By the end, I didn’t really have a question left to ask.

That such a thought-provoking and informative presentation was made via Zoom, with only limited interaction with listeners and with no opportunity to “read the audience”, made Alex’s presentation all the more impressive. Every point was well made; never did I feel that we were being lectured. Rather, we were offered ways of arriving at ethically sound choices, many of which I think were new to at least some of us.

One question did occur to me when it was just too late to ask: given that I was in sympathy with everything Alex said, as I think were most of his Humanist audience… was he preaching to the converted? If so, how is the wider world of consumers to be influenced? I am pretty confident that Alex and his colleagues are working on this.

Judith and I have taken out a subscription to Ethical Consumer. Knowledge is Power!

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