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Will MacAskill

14 Podcast Episodes

Latest 18 Sep 2021 | Updated Daily

Weekly hand curated podcast episodes for learning

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Five: Prof Will MacAskill on moral uncertainty, utilitarianism & how to avoid being a moral monster

Effective Altruism: An Introduction – 80,000 Hours

Immanuel Kant is a profoundly influential figure in modern philosophy, and was one of the earliest proponents for universal democracy and international cooperation. He also thought that women have no place in civil society, that it was okay to kill illegitimate children, and that there was a ranking in the moral worth of different races. Throughout history we’ve consistently believed, as common sense, truly horrifying things by today’s standards. According to University of Oxford Professor Will MacAskill, it’s extremely likely that we’re in the same boat today. If we accept that we’re probably making major moral errors, how should we proceed? In this conversation from 2018, Will makes the case that we need to develop a moral view that criticises common sense intuitions, and gives us a chance to move beyond them. Full transcript, related links, and summary of this interviewThis episode first broadcast on the regular 80,000 Hours Podcast feed on January 19, 2018. Some related episodes include:• #16 – Dr Hutchinson on global priorities research & shaping the ideas of intellectuals• #42 – Amanda Askell on moral empathy, the value of information & the ethics of infinity• #67 – Dave Chalmers on the nature and ethics of consciousness• #68 – Will MacAskill on the paralysis argument, whether we're at the hinge of history, & his new priorities• #72 – Toby Ord on the precipice and humanity's potential futures• #73 – Phil Trammell on patient philanthropy and waiting to do good• #86 – Hilary Greaves on Pascal's mugging, strong longtermism, and whether existing can be good for usSeries produced by Keiran Harris.

1hr 52mins

12 Apr 2021

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EAGxVirtual 2020: Q&A with Will MacAskill

EARadio

William MacAskill is an Associate Professor in Philosophy at Oxford University. He was educated at Cambridge, Princeton, and Oxford and is one of the progenitors of the effective altruism movement. His book on the topic, Doing Good Better, was published by Penguin Random House in 2015. He is the co-founder of three non-profits based on effective altruist principles: Giving What We Can, 80,000 Hours and the Centre for Effective Altruism, and is also a research fellow at the Global Priorities Institute.Original Video

51mins

15 Jul 2020

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EAG London 2019: Fireside chat (Will MacAskill)

EARadio

Will MacAskill, a key figure in the effective altruism movement, discusses the book he’s currently writing about longtermism, his assessment of challenges and successes in his work at the Global Priorities Institute, how his views have changed over the last year, different approaches to growing the effective altruism community, and more.This talk was filmed at EA Global 2019: London. Find out how to attend a future EA Global conference: https://www.eaglobal.org/.Learn more about effective altruism: https://www.effectivealtruism.org/.Original Video

25mins

27 Jan 2020

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#68 - Will MacAskill on the paralysis argument, whether we're at the hinge of history, & his new priorities

80,000 Hours Podcast with Rob Wiblin

You're given a box with a set of dice in it. If you roll an even number, a person's life is saved. If you roll an odd number, someone else will die. Each time you shake the box you get $10. Should you do it? A committed consequentialist might say, "Sure! Free money!" But most will think it obvious that you should say no. You've only gotten a tiny benefit, in exchange for moral responsibility over whether other people live or die. And yet, according to today's return guest, philosophy Prof Will MacAskill, in a real sense we're shaking this box every time we leave the house, and those who think shaking the box is wrong should probably also be shutting themselves indoors and minimising their interactions with others. * Links to learn more, summary and full transcript. * Job opportunities at the Global Priorities Institute. To see this, imagine you're deciding whether to redeem a coupon for a free movie. If you go, you'll need to drive to the cinema. By affecting traffic throughout the city, you'll have slightly impacted the schedules of thousands or tens of thousands of people. The average life is about 30,000 days, and over the course of a life the average person will have about two children. So - if you've impacted at least 7,500 days - then, statistically speaking, you've probably influenced the exact timing of a conception event. With 200 million sperm in the running each time, changing the moment of copulation, even by a fraction of a second, will almost certainly mean you've changed the identity of a future person. That different child will now impact all sorts of things as they go about their life, including future conception events. And then those new people will impact further future conceptions events, and so on. After 100 or maybe 200 years, basically everybody alive will be a different person because you went to the movies. As a result, you'll have changed when many people die. Take car crashes as one example: about 1.3% of people die in car crashes. Over that century, as the identities of everyone change as a result of your action, many of the 'new' people will cause car crashes that wouldn't have occurred in their absence, including crashes that prematurely kill people alive today. Of course, in expectation, exactly the same number of people will have been saved from car crashes, and will die later than they would have otherwise. So, if you go for this drive, you'll save hundreds of people from premature death, and cause the early death of an equal number of others. But you'll get to see a free movie, worth $10. Should you do it? This setup forms the basis of 'the paralysis argument', explored in one of Will's recent papers. Because most 'non-consequentialists' endorse an act/omission distinction? post truncated due to character limit, finish reading the full explanation here. So what's the best way to fix this strange conclusion? We discuss a few options, but the most promising might bring people a lot closer to full consequentialism than is immediately apparent. In this episode Will and I also cover: * Are, or are we not, living in the most influential time in history? * The culture of the effective altruism community * Will's new lower estimate of the risk of human extinction * Why Will is now less focused on AI * The differences between Americans and Brits * Why feeling guilty about characteristics you were born with is crazy * And plenty more. Get this episode by subscribing: type 80,000 Hours into your podcasting app. Producer: Keiran Harris. Audio mastering: Ben Cordell. Transcriptions: Zakee Ulhaq.

3hr 25mins

24 Jan 2020

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#17 Classic episode - Prof Will MacAskill on moral uncertainty, utilitarianism & how to avoid being a moral monster

80,000 Hours Podcast with Rob Wiblin

Rebroadcast: this episode was originally released in January 2018. Immanuel Kant is a profoundly influential figure in modern philosophy, and was one of the earliest proponents for universal democracy and international cooperation. He also thought that women have no place in civil society, that it was okay to kill illegitimate children, and that there was a ranking in the moral worth of different races. Throughout history we’ve consistently believed, as common sense, truly horrifying things by today’s standards. According to University of Oxford Professor Will MacAskill, it’s extremely likely that we’re in the same boat today. If we accept that we’re probably making major moral errors, how should we proceed?• Full transcript, key points & links to articles discussed in the show. If our morality is tied to common sense intuitions, we’re probably just preserving these biases and moral errors. Instead we need to develop a moral view that criticises common sense intuitions, and gives us a chance to move beyond them. And if humanity is going to spread to the stars it could be worth dedicating hundreds or thousands of years to moral reflection, lest we spread our errors far and wide. Will is an Associate Professor in Philosophy at Oxford University, author of Doing Good Better, and one of the co-founders of the effective altruism (EA) community. In this interview we discuss a wide range of topics: • How would we go about a ‘long reflection’ to fix our moral errors? • Will’s forthcoming book on how one should reason and act if you don't know which moral theory is correct. What are the practical implications of so-called ‘moral uncertainty’? • If we basically solve existential risks, what does humanity do next? • What are some of Will’s most unusual philosophical positions? • What are the best arguments for and against utilitarianism? • Given disagreements among philosophers, how much should we believe the findings of philosophy as a field? • What are some the biases we should be aware of within academia? • What are some of the downsides of becoming a professor? • What are the merits of becoming a philosopher? • How does the media image of EA differ to the actual goals of the community? • What kinds of things would you like to see the EA community do differently? • How much should we explore potentially controversial ideas? • How focused should we be on diversity? • What are the best arguments against effective altruism? Get this episode by subscribing: type '80,000 Hours' into your podcasting app. The 80,000 Hours Podcast is produced by Keiran Harris.

1hr 52mins

31 Dec 2019

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Dr. Will MacAskill: Oxford professor on Effective Altruism

Crazy Money with Paul Ollinger

Will MacAskill—whom Bill Gates describes as, “a data nerd after my own heart"—is Associate Professor in Philosophy and Research Fellow at the Global Priorities Institute, University of Oxford. Will’s academic research focuses on the fundamentals of effective altruism—the use of evidence and reason to help others by as much as possible with our time and money, with a particular concentration on how to act given moral uncertainty. He is the author of Doing Good Better - Effective Altruism and a Radical New Way to Make a Difference. His TED Talk on the subject has earned almost two million views. Will is also the Director of the Forethought Foundation for Global Priorities Research, a co-founder and the President of the Centre for Effective Altruism (CEA) and helped to create the effective altruism movement. Through Giving What We Can, CEA encourages people to commit to donate at least 10% of their income to the most effective charities. (You can take the pledge here.)  Will and I discuss global disease, factory farming, nuclear annihilation (smily emoticon) and whether or not those rich folks who donated to re-build Notre Dame Cathedral should have used their money in another way.  See my upcoming shows and links to my comedy EP, Alive on the Upper West Side on: http://paulollinger.com

1hr 5mins

23 Jul 2019

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Episode 147: Effective Altruism and Moral Uncertainty (with The One True Scotsman, Will MacAskill)

Very Bad Wizards

Oxford philosophy professor Will MacAskill joins us to talk about effective altruism, moral uncertainty, and why you shouldn’t eat your grandmother (even if consequentialism is true). How should we act when we’re not sure which moral theory is the right one? Can we formulate a guide for behavior, modeled on decision theory, that maximizes expected moral value? How do we assign credences to ethical (as opposed to empirical) claims? Why has effective altruism become so popular, so fast, yet at the same time seem off-putting to many people? Plus, Tamler faces a dilemma when narrating his audiobook, and Dave is the Louis CK of his own backyard. 0:00 - 25:41 Tamler's dilemma and Guilty Confessions. 25:41 -31:15 Break, contact info, updates, thanks to our listeners and supporters. 31:16 -1:43:19 Wil MacAskill interview. Special Guest: William MacAskill.Support Very Bad WizardsLinks:William MacAskill homepageThe Most Efficient Way to Save a Life - The AtlanticDoing Good Better: How Effective Altruism Can Help You Help Others, Do Work that Matters, and Make Smarter Choices about Giving Back [amazon.com affiliate link]Moral uncertainty - Effective Altruism Concepts80,000 Hours: How to make a difference with your careerGiving What We Can

1hr 43mins

4 Sep 2018

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MORAL UNCERTAINTY A conversation with Professor Will MacAskill

Political Philosophy Podcast

MORAL UNCERTAINTY A conversation with Professor Will MacAskill by Toby Buckle

1hr 7mins

19 May 2018

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EAG 2017 London: Opening talk (Will MacAskill)

EARadio

Source: Effective Altruism Global (video).

26mins

23 Apr 2018

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#17 - Prof Will MacAskill on moral uncertainty, utilitarianism & how to avoid being a moral monster

80,000 Hours Podcast with Rob Wiblin

Immanuel Kant is a profoundly influential figure in modern philosophy, and was one of the earliest proponents for universal democracy and international cooperation. He also thought that women have no place in civil society, that it was okay to kill illegitimate children, and that there was a ranking in the moral worth of different races. Throughout history we've consistently believed, as common sense, truly horrifying things by today's standards. According to University of Oxford Professor Will MacAskill, it's extremely likely that we're in the same boat today. If we accept that we're probably making major moral errors, how should we proceed? Full transcript, key points and links to articles and career guides discussed in the show. If our morality is tied to common sense intuitions, we're probably just preserving these biases and moral errors. Instead we need to develop a moral view that criticises common sense intuitions, and gives us a chance to move beyond them. And if humanity is going to spread to the stars it could be worth dedicating hundreds or thousands of years to moral reflection, lest we spread our errors far and wide. Will is an Associate Professor in Philosophy at Oxford University, author of Doing Good Better, and one of the co-founders of the effective altruism community. In this interview we discuss a wide range of topics: * How would we go about a 'long reflection' to fix our moral errors? * Will's forthcoming book on how one should reason and act if you don't know which moral theory is correct. What are the practical implications of so-called 'moral uncertainty'? * If we basically solve existential risks, what does humanity do next? * What are some of Will's most unusual philosophical positions? * What are the best arguments for and against utilitarianism? * Given disagreements among philosophers, how much should we believe the findings of philosophy as a field? * What are some the biases we should be aware of within academia? * What are some of the downsides of becoming a professor? * What are the merits of becoming a philosopher? * How does the media image of EA differ to the actual goals of the community? * What kinds of things would you like to see the EA community do differently? * How much should we explore potentially controversial ideas? * How focused should we be on diversity? * What are the best arguments against effective altruism? Get free, one-on-one career advice We've helped hundreds of people compare their options, get introductions, and find high impact jobs. If you want to work on global priorities research or other important questions in academia, find out if our coaching can help you.

1hr 52mins

19 Jan 2018

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