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Professor Behind Effective Altruism on What SBF’s Fall Means

Princeton philosopher Peter Singer talks about the philanthropic movement’s future, its embrace by billionaires and the concept of earning to give.



In 1972, philosopher Peter Singer proposed a moral framework arguing that if you would muddy your clothes to help a drowning child nearby, you should give at least a small amount of money to help a child you’ll never meet. Singer’s ideas influenced the concept of effective altruism (EA), which encourages people to seek ways to earn high incomes and give a substantial portion of their money to charity. EA has become a cultural movement among billionaires in Silicon Valley—with Sam Bankman-Fried as one of its highest-profile adherents and richest donors.

Now, the EA movement is struggling to figure out what comes after the disgrace of its homegrown hero. Singer, a professor of bioethics at Princeton University, spoke with Bloomberg Businessweek in his first interview since FTX’s implosion. The interview has been lightly edited and condensed.