CFP: EAGxAustralia 2020 Workshop on Global Priorities

Submission deadline: April 9, 2020

Conference date(s):
September 26, 2020 - September 27, 2020

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Conference Venue:

Australian National University
Canberra, Australia

Topic areas


We are delighted to announce the EAGxAustralia 2020 Workshop on Global Priorities. This two-day academic workshop will be held at the Australian National University from the 26th to 27th of September, in conjunction withEffective Altruism Global x Australia- the 6th annual conference of the Australian and New Zealand effective altruism community. As a result, presenters will have the opportunity to share their research with a large, highly engaged public audience.

Invited speakers for the Workshop include:

  • Andreas Mogensen (Oxford, Philosophy)

  • Alan Hájek (ANU, Philosophy)

  • Katie Steele (ANU, Philosophy)

  • John Quiggin (UQ, Economics)

  • Simon Grant (ANU, Economics)

  • Eva Vivalt (tentative; ANU, Economics)

The aim of this workshop is to bring attention to high-impact research topics which fall under the banner of global priorities research: an emerging field which looks at issues which arise in response to the question, What should we do with a given amount of limited resources if our aim is to do the most good (impartially construed)?

Agents with this aim of beneficence - for instance, many in the effective altruism community - must prioritise among many different global problems, and many means of tackling them. This priority-setting requires answers to thorny questions, both normative and descriptive, and both philosophical and applied. It is these questions which the workshop (and global priorities research more broadly) seeks to answer.

Examples of questions within philosophy include:

  • Are we both rationally and morally required to maximise expected moral value, even when doing so involves producing extremely low probabilities of extremely high payoffs?

  • What form/s of welfare should altruists promote (and what does this imply in practice)?

  • Should we accept longtermism: the view that the primary determinant of the differences in moral value of the actions we take today is the effect of those actions on the very long-term future? And, in practice, what actions should a longtermist take?

  • How should we compare benefits to humans and to non-human animals?

  • How can we measure the welfare of non-human animals (and what do these methods imply in practice)?

  • Do we have moral reasons to bring future persons into existence, and how do these compare to our reasons to benefit present (or necessary) persons?

  • How might other duties (e.g., those arising from issues of justice) interfere with duties of beneficence?

  • How should altruists respond to uncertainty over which moral theories are correct?

  • To what extent should a government take actions that are better for the world even if they conflict with the interests of their own citizens?

  • How should we respond to different forms of evidence about how effective different actions are in promoting value? 

For further examples, see the research agendaof the Oxford Global Priorities Institute:

Submissions may be on any topic relevant to global priority-setting, whether featured above or not. They may be from any area of philosophy or economics, as well as other relevant disciplines (although we expect that the majority of papers at this workshop will come from philosophy and economics). And we strongly encourage submissions from researchers in groups underrepresented in academic philosophy and economics, including women and people of colour.

To present at the workshop, please submit an extended abstract of 600 words or less to [email protected], making clear how the paper is relevant to the question of how to do the most good with limited resources. Papers should be suitable for a 45-minute presentation (including questions). If you would prefer an alternative or shorter format - for instance, for a work-in-progress talk - please let us know when you submit. The deadline is April 9th. Successful applicants will be notified at most one month after the deadline.

We have some funding available to cover accommodation and (domestic) travel for speakers, as well as for graduate students who attend. This funding will be allocated on the basis of need, and we encourage attendees to use their own institutional funding if available so that we can fund others. If you require funding, please let us know when you submit or otherwise by email at [email protected]

Presenters will also have the opportunity to have their talks professionally filmed and published on YouTube. 

We are grateful to the Australasian Association of Philosophy and Centre for Effective Altruism for financial support.

Frequently Asked Questions

Question: I am unsure whether my research counts as ‘global priorities research’. Should I still submit an abstract?

Answer: If in doubt, yes! We’re interested in any research on considerations relevant to the question of how to do the most good. That is a broad topic and we certainly haven’t thought of all of the possible topics. If you make clear in your abstract how your paper is relevant, we’ll be glad to consider it.

Also, if you have any questions, feel free to contact us at [email protected].

Question: What does it mean that the workshop is run in conjunction with EAGxAustralia?

Answer: The Workshop on Global Priorities is an academic workshop whileEAGxAustraliais a public conference on similar themes but with a more applied focus. In 2020, these will be run at the same time and in the same venue at the ANU. They will share catering services and logistic support.

Attendees of the wider conference who are interested will be welcome to attend sessions of the academic workshop, and vice versa. This makes the workshop an excellent venue to reach a large public audience, including representatives of NGOs, policymakers, and philanthropists, who will take practical actions based on your research.

Question: How is the Workshop on Global Priorities connected to effective altruism?

Answer: The workshop, and global priorities research more broadly, is largely inspired by the activities of the effective altruism community. That said, we expect that the content of the workshop will be intellectually interesting in its own right. 

We also welcome submissions which reject or criticise beliefs commonly held by the effective altruism community.

Question: I have not been involved with the effective altruism community in the past; can I still come?

Answer: Of course! The workshop is for people working on topics which will generally be relevant for effective altruism. This includes, but is by no means restricted to, people who have engaged with the effective altruism community before.

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