Giving Compass' Take:
- This article is an interview with Peter Singer as he discloses his thoughts on philanthropy, philosophy and the future.
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A professor of Bioethics at Princeton University and a laureate professor at the Centre for Applied Philosophy and Public Ethics at the University of Melbourne, the arguably world’s most famous living philosopher, Peter Singer, recently visited St. Andrews to present a lecture on living an ethical life in the 21st century.
Mr. Singer is famous for his expertise in animal rights, global poverty, and abortion laws, and his opinions on such matters have been subject to extreme controversy. As his main event was the “Ethics of Giving” conference here in St Andrews, Mr. Singer focused on global poverty, and the following day, gave a talk on animal rights in Edinburgh.
According to Singer’s principle, if we can prevent something bad from happening without sacrificing something of comparable moral significance, then we should do so. Suffering is bad, therefore, if we can prevent suffering without sacrificing something of comparable moral significance, then we should act to reduce that suffering.
I see ethics as the cutting edge of Philosophy, the area where it engages most directly with the real world...They might have changed what they eat, or changed where they donate to, or made different career plans,” he said. Indeed, reading articles about altruism and exposing oneself to philosophy can have a dramatic effect on people’s routine habits.