Open page with Peter Singer

December 2016, no. 387

Open page with Peter Singer

December 2016, no. 387

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.

Are you a vivid dreamer?


Where are you happiest?

Where? I’m happy when I’ve done something well, whether it’s writing, giving a talk, or organising an event. There is no particular place where that occurs. If you want particular places, it would have to be a different kind of happiness, such as I might feel on a mountaintop, looking out at the view, or at the beach, catching a wave.

What is your favourite film?

The Blues Brothers.

And your favourite book?

Pride and Prejudice.

Name the three people with whom you would most like to dine

Renata (my wife), Bill and Melinda Gates

Which word do you most dislike, and which would you like to see back in public usage?

I dislike the way people use ‘inappropriate’ in order to pretend that they are not making a moral judgements. I’d like to see ‘uninterested’ back in public usage, because that would mean that people were no longer misusing ‘disinterested’.

Who is your favourite author?

Derek Parfit.

And your favourite literary hero and heroine?

Huck Finn, Elizabeth Bennet.

Which quality do you most admire in a writer?


Name an early literary idol or influence whom you no longer admire – or vice versa.

Captain W.E. Johns.

What, if anything, impedes your writing?

Too many emails.

How do you regard publishers?


What do you think of the state of criticism?

I regret that there are fewer book reviews in daily newspapers.

And writers’ festivals?

I’m delighted that writers’ festivals are thriving in Australia. It’s a great way of connecting with your audience and meeting other writers.

Are artists valued in our society?

Some are, some aren’t – and some don’t deserve to be anyway.

What are you working on now?

I’m in the midst of a busy teaching semester at Princeton. That doesn’t leave a lot of time for writing anything long. I’m still writing my monthly columns for Project Syndicate, many of which have now been published in Ethics in the Real World.

Peter Singer is Ira W. DeCamp Professor of Bioethics, Princeton University, and Laureate Professor, School of Historical and Philosophical Studies, University of Melbourne. He is the author of more than twenty books, including The Life You Can Save (2009) and The Most Good You Can Do (2015) and Ethics in the Real World (2016).

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Comment (1)

  • Well, that was certainly a trivial interview which elicited absolutely nothing of interest. What a pity.
    Posted by Judy Winchester
    01 December 2016

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