Lori Gruen

Calculating Care? The Maladies of Effective Altruism

Effective altruism (EA), the view that one should rely on evidence, not feelings, when figuring out how to promote the most good one can, has become an influential force in animal activism.  Animal Charity Evaluators, for example, encourages activists to adopt effective altruism as a strategy and take a “numbers oriented approach” in order to guide action to promote the “highest net welfare.”  EA has been criticized on a number of grounds and in this talk, I will focus on these criticisms, highlighting what gets obscured in data and calculations, and discuss how the EA approach can deform our relationships.

Lori Gruen is the William Griffin Professor of Philosophy at Wesleyan University. She is also a professor of Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies and coordinator of Wesleyan Animal Studies. She is the author and editor of ten books, including Ethics and Animals: An Introduction (Cambridge, 2011), Reflecting on Nature: Readings in Environmental Philosophy and Ethics (Oxford, 2012), Ethics of Captivity (Oxford, 2014), Entangled Empathy (Lantern, 2015) and Critical Terms for Animal Studies (University of Chicago, 2018). Her work in practical ethics focuses on issues that impact those often overlooked in traditional ethical investigations, e.g. women, people of color, incarcerated people, and non-human animals. She is a former editor of Hypatia: A Journal of Feminist Philosophy; is a Fellow of the Hastings Center for Bioethics, a Faculty Fellow at Tufts’ Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine’s Center for Animals and Public Policy, and was the first chair of the Faculty Advisory Committee of the Center for Prison Education at Wesleyan.