The 7 founding principles of the School for Moral Ambition

SMA is founded on principles. They articulate our commitment to the way in which we aim to make the world a wildly better place, and they guide all our decisions.

We believe awareness is overrated

We recognize that we’re among the most privileged people in the history of humanity. We know that we have enormous opportunities to make a difference.

We believe awareness is overrated, and we don’t believe in pointing fingers. We’re ambitious, but with our own definition of success: we want to do as much good as we possibly can.

We want to make extraordinary impact

Our aim isn’t just change, but transformative impact. We understand that our best opportunities are orders of magnitude more impactful than the average opportunities.

We know we have to prioritize, and we focus on the most important, tractable and neglected problems of the world. At the same time, we are wary of the ‘measurability bias’: not everything that counts can be counted. In those cases, we do our best to construct a theory of change that is as robust as possible.

We Expand our circle of Compassion

We consider all sentient beings as members of our moral circle. All of them are unique and valuable, and have an inherent right to exist and flourish.

Therefore, we want to broaden our compassion and help as many humans and animals as possible. Like the abolitionists and suffragettes before us, we try to push the frontiers of humanity’s moral circle. We also care about future generations of people and animals, and seek to be good ancestors.

We Cultivate A Curious Mindset

We strive to see the world as it really is, not how we want it to be. We are epistemically humble: the world is complicated, and there are many things we don’t know or aren’t sure about.

We cultivate a curious and inquisitive mindset, and we’re not embarrassed to change our views. In fact, we applaud each other for admitting our failures and mistakes. We’re not afraid to stand out from the crowd, even when our priorities and solutions seem outlandish to the rest of society. Our truth evolves with evidence, not ego.

We Believe in the goodness in people

For us, ambition is not about envy and resentment. It’s about inspiration and encouragement. We try to bring out the best in each other, and we recognize that it takes a team to make a difference.

We don’t treat others as a means to an end, but always as ends in themselves. We don’t just celebrate the heroes in the spotlights, but also those who work tirelessly in the wings. We think everyone has a talent, and we encourage everyone to live a morally ambitious life.

We want to live full, rich and well-rounded lives

We’re not driven by feelings of guilt, but by sheer enthusiasm. We’re simply excited about making the world a much better place, and about building a legacy that matters.

At the same time, we believe that there’s much more to life than work and ambition. We also have our loved ones, hobbies and other interests. We want to live full, rich and well-rounded lives, not just because it makes our ambition more sustainable, but also as an end in itself.

We are determined not to give up

We understand that our journey is a marathon, not a sprint. We realize that our mission could span years, decades, or even our entire lifetimes.

Of the sixty-eight women who convened at the first women's rights convention in Seneca Falls in 1848, just one survived to see women secure the right to vote. We know that challenging times lie ahead, times when all our efforts may seem in vain. In these moments of doubt, we will remind ourselves that we are only a small part of a much bigger movement. And that one day, we may pass the torch to the next generation of moral pioneers.