In 1972, philosopher Peter Singer proposed a moral framework arguing that if you would muddy your clothes to help a drowning child nearby, you should give at least a small amount of money to help a child you’ll never meet. Singer’s ideas influenced the concept of effective altruism (EA), which encourages people to seek ways to earn high incomes and give a substantial portion of their money to charity. EA has become a cultural movement among billionaires in Silicon Valley—with Sam Bankman-Fried as one of its highest-profile adherents and richest donors.
Now, the EA movement is struggling to figure out what comes after the disgrace of its homegrown hero. Singer, a professor of bioethics at Princeton University, spoke with Bloomberg Businessweek in his first interview since FTX’s implosion. The interview has been lightly edited and condensed.