Toby David Godfrey Ord
18 July 1979
|Education||University of Melbourne|
Balliol College, Oxford
Christ Church, Oxford
|Thesis||Beyond Action: applying consequentialism to decision making and motivation (2009)|
|Doctoral advisor||John Broome|
|Institutions||Balliol College, Oxford|
Giving What We Can
Future of Humanity Institute
|Main interests||Normative 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."
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. Ord holds the position of a Research Fellow at Oxford's Future of Humanity Institute. 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.
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, arguing that "research shows that some are up to 1,000 times as effective as others." 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. A year later, he revised this figure down to £18,000. Over the course of his career, he expects his donations to total around £1 million.