Economics assumes that individuals will take as much as they can. 80,000 Hours, and Giving What We Can, ask us to give as much as we can. The reason is regard for others, but it may also be efficient, not in dollars but in well-being. Selfishness has brought our societies to the brink of disaster. We are quite generous to others through the tax system, which assures us that others will do their bit as well. It is time to try unilateral generosity: not everyone will go all the way, but some people have already done so (more than twenty a year donate kidneys anonymously, to take one heroic example), and they send a credible signal that generosity can light up our lives, and that it is a more attractive inspiration than the extremes of self-regard.
Prof. Avner Offer
Emeritus Chichele Professor of Economic History, University of Oxford