Toby Ord
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Toby Ord

Toby Ord
Toby David Godfrey Ord

(1979-07-18) 18 July 1979 (age 40)
Melbourne, Australia
OccupationAcademic, philosopher
Academic background
EducationUniversity of Melbourne
Balliol College, Oxford
Christ Church, Oxford
ThesisBeyond Action: applying consequentialism to decision making and motivation (2009)
Doctoral advisorJohn Broome
Derek Parfit
Academic work
InstitutionsBalliol College, Oxford
Giving What We Can
Future of Humanity Institute
Main interestsNormative ethics, practical ethics

Toby David Godfrey Ord (born 18 July 1979) is an Australian philosopher. He is the founder of Giving What We Can, an international society dedicated to the elimination of poverty in the developing world.


Ord attended the University of Melbourne, where he initially studied computer science. On completing his first degree, he switched to studying philosophy to pursue his interest in ethics: "At this stage I knew that I wanted to make a large positive difference in the world and it seemed that studying ethics would help."[1]

For his graduate studies, Ord moved to the University of Oxford, where he obtained both a B.Phil., and a D.Phil. in philosophy. Having submitted his doctoral thesis, 'Beyond Action: applying consequentialism to decision making and motivation', Ord was retained as a junior research fellow by Balliol College, Oxford.[2] Ord holds the position of a Research Fellow at Oxford's Future of Humanity Institute.[3] He has published articles on ethics and the philosophy of computation. He promotes consequentialist ethics and his research interests include questions around global poverty and moral uncertainty.[4][5]

His current main research interest are global existential risks. He is working on a book on this topic and reported on his plans in an interview with the 80,000 hours podcast.[6]

Giving What We Can

At Oxford, Ord resolved to give a significant proportion of his income to the most cost-effective charities he could find. Following a number of enquiries from people interested in making a similar commitment, Ord decided to set up an organisation geared towards supporting like-minded donors.

In 2009, Ord launched Giving What We Can, an international society whose members have each pledged to donate at least 10% of their income to anti-poverty charities. The organisation is aligned with and part of the effective altruism movement. Giving What We Can seeks not only to encourage people to give more of their money to charity, but also stresses the importance of giving to cost-effective charities,[7] arguing that "research shows that some are up to 1,000 times as effective as others."[8] While it does not collect money or undertake charity work directly, Giving What We Can carries out original research and recommends charities it believes to be particularly efficient. Ord remains director of Giving What We Can, and is closely involved in its day-to-day running.

Ord himself decided initially to cap his income at £20,000 per year, and to give away everything he earned above that to well-researched charities, in line with the commitment Giving What We Can members make, of donating at least ten per cent of their incomes to the charities they believe to be the most effective.[9] A year later, he revised this figure down to £18,000.[10][11] Over the course of his career, he expects his donations to total around £1 million.[10]

Personal life

Ord lives in Oxford with his wife, Bernadette Young, a medical doctor.[12] She is also a member of Giving What We Can.[10]

See also


  1. ^ "Giving What We Can, Our Members". Giving What We Can. Archived from the original on 27 March 2012. Retrieved 2012.
  2. ^ "Toby Ord CV" (PDF). Retrieved 2012.
  3. ^ | Oxford University page for Toby Ord
  4. ^ Ross Andersen (25 February 2013). "When we peer into the fog of the deep future what do we see - human extinction or a future among the stars?". Aeon. Retrieved 2014.
  5. ^ Ord, Toby. "Toby Ord's Website". A Mirror Clear. Retrieved 2013.
  6. ^ "Why the long-term future of humanity matters more than anything else". 80,000 Hours. Retrieved 2019.
  7. ^ Tina Rosenberg (5 December 2012). "Putting Charities to the Test". The New York Times. Retrieved 2014.
  8. ^ "Giving What We Can, Recommended Charities". Giving What We Can. Retrieved 2012.
  9. ^ Javier Espinoza (28 November 2011). "Small sacrifice, big return". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 2014.
  10. ^ a b c "Toby Ord: Why I'm giving £1m to charity". BBC. 13 December 2010. Retrieved 2012.
  11. ^ Nicholas Hellen (9 December 2012). "Oxford don sparks flood of charity cash". The Sunday Times. Retrieved 2014.
  12. ^ Susanna Rustin (24 December 2011). "The Saturday interview: Toby Ord and Bernadette Young on the joy of giving". The Guardian. Retrieved 2014.

External links

  This article uses material from the Wikipedia page available here. It is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.



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