"Beautifully written and extremely smart. Doing Good Better should be required reading for anyone interested in making the world better."
—Steven Levitt, author of Freakonomics
A new book about how to really make a difference, from a rising star and co-founder of the effective altruism movement.

About the Book

Do you care about making the world a better place? Perhaps you buy ethical products, donate to charity or volunteer your time in the name of doing good. But how often do you know what impact you really have?

William MacAskill, Research Fellow at Cambridge University, has spent the last five years developing the philosophy of effective altruism, which applies data and scientific reasoning to the normally sentimental world of doing good. In the course of his research he’s come to the remarkable conclusions that most ways of making a difference achieve little, but that, by targeting our efforts on the most effective causes, we each have an enormous power to make the world a better place.

In Doing Good Better MacAskill introduces the principles underlying effective altruism and sets out a practical guide to increasing your impact through your charity, volunteering, purchases and choice of cause. On a whistle-stop tour of the key issues facing a would-be do-gooder, he’ll answer questions like:

  • Why are some charities far more effective than others?

  • How can cosmetic surgeons do more good than charity workers?

  • Does boycotting sweatshops make things better or worse for the global poor?

Through its new approach and challenging conclusions, Doing Good Better is set to spark off a global debate on what it really means to make a difference.

What people are saying


“Will MacAskill is one of the rising stars of moral philosophy.  I’ve learned a great deal from his writing and from listening to him speak. His achievements through Giving What We Can, 80,000 Hours, and the Centre for Effective Altruism are astonishing for someone of his age. His ideas are insightful and important, and his writing is clear, accessible and exceedingly engaging.  Doing Good Better will be a must-read for anyone who wants to make a difference in their lives.”

Peter Singer, Ira W. DeCamp Professor of Bioethics at Princeton University and author of Animal Liberation, Practical Ethics and The Life You Can Save


“Humanity currently spends more money on lipstick research than on making sure that we survive this century as a species. We’ve got our priorities all wrong, and we need effective altruism to right them. Will MacAskill is leading the charge and helping to catalyse a whole generation to think about and tackle the biggest issues of our time.”

Jaan Tallinn, Co-founder of Skype, Kazaa and Metamed


"Take every preconceived idea you might have about what a head-in-the-clouds philosopher looks like, and bury them in a deep hole. If Will MacAskill can convince me, who has always thought of himself as a socialist, that working on Wall Street might be an altruistic thing to do, then he can convince anyone."

Charlie Bresler, Exective Director of The Life You Can Save


"Effective altruism drives a stake through common but ill-conceived notions about what 'doing good' means, and offers a real alternative in its place. The importance of this movement cannot be underestimated: it's going to be huge, and Will's book will be the centerpiece."

Aubrey de Grey, Chief Science Officer, SENS Research


"Will has a rare combination of gifts — the intelligence to develop new ideas, the clarity to convey them to a wider audience, and the motivation to bring them to life in the real world. Will has motivated a small army of the most talented young people to dedicate their lives to doing good, and it's been my pleasure to get to know them. Humanity faces some big challenges in the 21st century, and I'm glad the effective altruism movement exists to tackle them."

Eric Drexler, Oxford Martin School, author of Engines of Creation


"There can be no doubt that Will MacAskill is going to become one of the leading moral philosophers of our time. Not only does he come up with revolutionary new ideas — but then he takes and make them seem so simple and obvious a child could understand them. No one else I know has been able to combine the real-world impact with the level of academic rigor that he has."

Krister Bykvist, Professor of Philosophy, Stockholm University



About the Author

William MacAskill is a Research Fellow in Philosophy at Emmanuel College, Cambridge, specialising in moral philosophy and decision theory.

He was one of the originators of the effective altruism movement, co-founding two of its earliest organisations: Giving What We Can, which encourages people to donate at least 10% of their incomes to the world’s most effective charities, and 80,000 Hours, which helps people to find the careers in which they can do the most possible good.