Peter Singer

Philosopher Derek Parfit claimed that nothing matters unless ethical and other normative beliefs are objectively true. Parfit, who died on 1 January 2017, wrote a three-volume work, On What Matters (2011–17), because he believed that the meaningfulness of his life, and the lives of others who devote themselves to ethical thought ...

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Why do you write? Because I have something to say – and not just to one person, but to as many people as I can reach. And when the writing goes well, I enjoy doing it ...

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In its original meaning, the word ‘philosopher’ simply meant ‘lover of wisdom’. At a time when theories of knowledge were still in their infancy, it was applied to thinkers – often, by ...

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Robyn Archer debated Peter Singer during the 2015 Melbourne Writers Festival; their topic was 'Is Funding the Arts Doing Good?'. This is an edited version of her paper.

I hear that in New York
At the corner of 26th Street and Broadway
A man stands every evening during the winte ...

Much contemporary moral philosophy is highly abstract, with technical arguments advanced on issues that appear far removed from ordinary life. But not all academic ethics has this form. The field of practical ethics has flourished over the last four decades, bringing philosophical techniques to bear on ethical issues in medicine, animal husbandry, climate change, an ...

On the face of it, this book represents a strange project: to elaborate for the reader’s consideration the moral beliefs of a man whom the author judges (and judged in advance, one suspects) to be shallow, inconsistent, lacking moral and intellectual sobriety, and to have failed so often to act on the moral principles he repeatedly professes that he can fairly be accused of hypocrisy ... 

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Peter Singer occupies a distinguished position at the Centre for Human Values at Princeton University and is frequently described as the most influential of living philosophers. The front cover of this new selection of his writings couples him with Bertrand Russell and, in some respects, the comparison is sensible. Both philosophers have written clearly and simply on issues that are of interest not only to specialists. They have attracted a wide reading public and achieved the kind of celebrity and notoriety rarely associated with philosophers. Both have been activists – Russell mainly in the cause of pacifism and nuclear disarmament, Singer in the cause of animal liberation and the preservation of the environment – and both have stood for parliament.

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There is no doubt of viciousness of existence. Bertolt Brecht spoke of how one minute you are striding out freely down a merry boulevard, the next poleaxed by a great lump of steel fallen from the heavens.

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For over a decade, Peter Singer has been one of those public intellectuals we are supposed by some not to have. In the past, however, the problem with him has been that his thinking has often been about matters not seen to concern the public at large, animal liberation, for example. But events have hurried us all forward. Even a few years ago it was possible for mottoes like ‘greed is good’ or pronouncements like Mrs Thatcher’s that ‘there is no such thing as society, there are only individuals’ to seem not only provocative but hard-headed. The good life, we were, many of us, persuaded, was synonymous with goods, our heroes were experts in money-making – having and spending, ethics seemed to be a matter of preserving the appearances, not getting caught.

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Test-Tube Babies edited by William Walters and Peter Singer

by
September 1982, no. 44

The Monash University team at the Queen Victoria Hospital in Melbourne has achieved great success in its endeavours to relieve infertility by the production of ‘test-tube babies’. This collection explains what goes on, discusses moral and legal problems relating to the programme, and gives a preview of what might lie ahead. The contributors include members of the medical team, their clients, and moral philosophers and theologians.

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