Effectiveness

Affirmation: doing good is important.
Analysis: we often fail to do the most good we can do, and concentrate on less effective actions than the maximally effective ones. For example, we give to greatly ineffective charities, some of which even cause harm; we spend our time procrastinating and thus neglect our work or relationships; or we fail to concentrate on the most neglected, important and/or tractable moral issues in our political and social engagement.
Action: we must seek to be maximally effective in doing the most good we can do across our work, relationships, giving and political engagement.

2 comments

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  • This is exactly the sort of thing that is being championed by the Centre for Effective Altruism at Oxford. I find the principle compelling. Good intentions are not enough; rather we have a responsibility to make the optimal use of our time, skills and money to bring about good in the world. We see this idea clearly in the parable of the talents. However, other events in life of Jesus call into question this principle. For example, when a woman poured a very expensive jar of perfume over his feet, she was not making the most effective use of her resources in this rational sense, as the disciples were quick to point out (the perfume could have been sold and the money given to the poor). But Jesus did not condemn the woman. She was acting out of heartfelt love and that seems to have been far more important to Jesus than doing good effectively.