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Videos, Books and Essays
Here are some links to a number of useful essays, books and videos about the nature of our obligations to those living in extreme poverty. In time we hope to add more.
Books and Essays
Famine, affluence, and morality, by Peter Singer
This highly influential essay set in motion a public discussion about our obligations regarding global poverty. Prior to its publication, the issue of global poverty was not much discussed within the field of ethics. Singer changed this by forcefully arguing that donating to stop poverty was not merely a nice thing to do, but was morally urgent and that we all have an obligation to donate a large part of our income. Moreover, he did so without invoking a particular moral theory: he derives the obligation directly from our most basic shared moral beliefs.
It ain't what you give, it's the way that you give it, by Caroline Fiennes
This book looks at the idea that some charities help more than others, and that some donors are more helpful to charities than others, whilst providing information about how you as a donor can be more effective. This important information is presented in a fun way, with examples from Oprah Winfrey to Albert Einstein. Advice is available for large and small scale donors, and if someone is just beginning to think about effectiveness, this is a great place to start.
Poor Economics, by Abhijit Banerjee and Esther Duflo
Through their work, Banerjee and Duflo look at some of the most surprising facets of poverty: why the poor need to borrow in order to save, why they miss out on free life-saving immunizations but pay for drugs that they do not need, why they start many businesses but do not grow any of them, and many other puzzling facts about living with less than 99 cents per day. Poor Economics argues that so much of anti-poverty policy has failed over the years because of an inadequate understanding of poverty. The battle against poverty can be won, but it will take patience, careful thinking and a willingness to learn from evidence.
The Elusive Quest for Growth, by Bill Easterly
Since the end of World War II, economists have tried to figure out how poor countries in the tropics could attain standards of living approaching those of countries in Europe and North America. Attempted remedies have included providing foreign aid, investing in machines, fostering education, controlling population growth, and making aid loans as well as forgiving those loans on condition of reforms. None of these solutions has delivered as promised. The problem is not the failure of economics, William Easterly argues, but the failure to apply economic principles to practical policy work.
Living high and letting die, by Peter Unger
Living high and letting die is an exploration of how far the argument in ‘Famine, affluence and morality’ can be taken. Through a series of contrasting thought experiments, Unger develops a version of the argument that goes further than Singer's in a number of ways, while being even harder to reject.
World poverty and human rights, by Thomas Pogge
World poverty and human rights examines the global injustices behind extreme poverty. Pogge shows how rich countries are not only failing to help the world's poorest people, but are actively contributing to the problem with an unjust set of global institutions. He explains how we none-the-less manage to maintain the illusion that we are doing no wrong, and offers realistic proposals towards fullfilling the demands of global justice.
The Life You Can Save, by Peter Singer
For the first time in history, eradicating world poverty is within our reach. Yet around the world, a billion people struggle to live each day on less than many of us pay for bottled water. In The Life You Can Save, Peter Singer uses ethical arguments, illuminating examples, and case studies of charitable giving to show that our current response to world poverty is not only insufficient but morally indefensible.
A leader in the fight against global poverty, repeatedly named one of Time Magazine's 100 Most Influential People
Jeffrey Sachs recorded a speech for a simultaneous presentation on April 11, 2011 at Princeton, Harvard, and Rutgers Universities, for the occasion of the launch of Giving What We Can: Princeton.
Hans Rosling at TED
Researcher Hans Rosling uses his cool data tools to show how countries are pulling themselves out of poverty. He demos Dollar Street, comparing households of varying income levels worldwide.
A 5-minute documentary about some Giving What We Can members, people who give at least 10%.
Giving What We Can
Giving What We Can at TEDx
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