John Aggrey Odera

Wolf Humanities Center Undergraduate Fellow

20182019 Forum on Stuff

John Aggrey Odera

Executive Board, Wolf Undergraduate Humanities Forum

Philosophy, Political Science

CAS, 2019

John is a Philosophy and Political Science major, and a minor in Classics, Statistics, and German. His chief interests lie in the different conceptions of “the good life” outlined in Aristotelian and Platonic philosophy. His other interests involve urban life, and his previous research has explored policies of urban renewal in Mumbai, India and Nairobi, Kenya, and evidence-based policy interventions in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. Outside of these, John enjoys realist literature, mountain climbing and backpacking, and has climbed Mount Kilimanjaro and Mount Kenya, as well as visited seventy-nine cities in forty-two countries.

The Poverty of Effective Altruism: An Essay in Epistemology and Practical Ethics

This project is a series of three extended essays meant to be read together. The first essay, "Objectivity, Contingency, Subjectivity" presents two contrasting views of epistemology: the first one being Sidgwick's "Point of View of the Universe", by which moral good can be assessed objectively and impartially; and the second view being the pragmatist anti-epistemological view, by which the idea of good is to be determined from political solidarity and not any objective facts that exist beyond experience. The second essay, "Shall we Leave it to the Experts?" presents a critique of the Effective Altruism movement and Philosophy, showing how its adoption of Sidgwick's view of epistemology in its work regarding beneficence promotes moral heedlessness and is anti-democratic, therefore leading to pernicious practicable consequences. The third essay, "Democratic Vistas: Towards Greater Solidarity" presents a pragmatist reading of beneficence, arguing that the anti-epistemological turn of seeking solidarity instead of objectivity provides better practical consequences for our obligations concerning beneficence, and spares us all the pernicious consequences outlined in the second essay.