Global Priorities Institute

The Global Priorities Institute is a proposed interdisciplinary research centre in Oxford. The programme aims to conduct foundational research that will inform the decision-making of individuals and institutions seeking to do as much good as possible. It prioritises topics which are important, neglected, and tractable, and uses the tools of multiple disciplines, especially philosophy and economics, to explore the issues at stake.

Research Questions


Below are some of the questions we seek to answer with our research. Find our full research agenda here.
Cluelessness
What is the rational response to the fact that the vast majority of our actions’ consequences are unknown (and in many cases unknowable) to us?
Donor Collaboration
How might groups of donors best collaborate in order to avoid effects such as donors each attempting to be the ‘donor of last resort’?
Long-term impacts
How can we predict and value the long-term impact of different philanthropic and public policy interventions, as opposed to merely the immediate, easily measured impacts?
Altruistic economics
What novel economic results might be derived from the assumption that agents are purely altruistic, rather than self-interested?
External validity
How might we be able to mitigate the problem of external validity by combining traditional impact evaluations with the very large data sets which are increasingly becoming available?
Indirect effects
Ought we to take all the effects of our actions into account, or should be exclude certain considerations such as the typical productivity of the beneficiaries of an intervention?
Animals & agricultural economics
How can the literature on animal agriculture help us to answer questions relating to animal welfare such as what the likely effects of welfare reforms are on the number of animals slaughtered?
Animal sentience
Which animals (farmed or wild) have lives that are net positive, and which have lives that are net negative? What implications do the various population axiologies have for animal welfare debates?
Distribution of cost-effectiveness
What shape does the distribution of the cost-effectiveness of different interventions have, and what does that mean for questions such as how to choose between speculative and proven interventions?
Comparing diverse benefits
How should we compare causes with very different types of benefits? For example, how do we decide whether to spend a fixed budget on (a) malaria reduction, (b) boosting school attendance, (c) corporate campaigns against factory farming, or (d) research on reducing risks from artificial intelligence?
Altruistic decision theory
In cases where plausible principles for acting altruistically seem to conflict with maximising expected good, does this indicate that the principles are irrational and need to be rejected, or are they useful heuristics to prevent naïve applications of expected value theory?

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