Peter Singer is often described as the world's most influential philosopher. He is also one of its most controversial. The author of important books such as Animal Liberation, Practical Ethics, Rethinking Life and Death, and The Life You Can Save, he helped launch the animal rights and effective altruism movements and contributed to the development of bioethics. Now, in Ethics in the Real World, Singer shows that he is also a master at dissecting important current events in a few hundred words.
In this book of brief essays, he applies his controversial ways of thinking to issues like climate change, extreme poverty, animals, abortion, euthanasia, human genetic selection, sports doping, the sale of kidneys, the ethics of high-priced art, and ways of increasing happiness. Singer asks whether chimpanzees are people, smoking should be outlawed, or consensual sex between adult siblings should be decriminalized, and he reiterates his case against the idea that all human life is sacred, applying his arguments to some recent cases in the news. In addition, he explores, in an easily accessible form, some of the deepest philosophical questions, such as whether anything really matters and what is the value of the pale blue dot that is our planet. The collection also includes some more personal reflections, like Singer’s thoughts on one of his favorite activities, surfing, and an unusual suggestion for starting a family conversation over a holiday feast.
Provocative and original, these essays will challenge—and possibly change—your beliefs about a wide range of real-world ethical questions.
Peter Singer is the Ira W. DeCamp Professor of Bioethics in the University Center for Human Values at Princeton University and Laureate Professor at the University of Melbourne. He first became well known internationally in 1975 with the publication of Animal Liberation. His other books include How Are We to Live?, The Ethics of What We Eat (with Jim Mason), and The Most Good You Can Do. He divides his time between Princeton and Melbourne.
"In his new book, Ethics in the Real World, Mr. Singer picks up the topics of animal rights and poverty amelioration and runs quite far with them. . . . This book is interesting because it offers a chance to witness this influential thinker grapple with more offbeat questions."--Dwight Garner, New York Times
"A terrific recent book . . . that wrestles with how much we should donate to charity, and whether wearing a $10,000 watch is a sign of good taste, or of shallow narcissism."--Nicholas Kristof, New York Times
"Perhaps more than any modern philosopher, Peter Singer has focused on the question of how to live a better life. If you want a philosophy that can directly alleviate human and animal suffering, read this wonderful book."--Sam Harris, author of the New York Times bestsellers The End of Faith, The Moral Landscape, and Waking Up
"Could well inspire conversations--and arguments--that deepen and complicate the crucial moral and ethical issues that Singer presents."--Kirkus
"An accessible introduction to the work of a philosopher who would not regard being described as ‘accessible' as an insult. . . . Despite their brevity, the essays do not shirk the big moral questions."--Economist
"Philosophy should be a more public endeavor, and Singer's work is an excellent entry point. In a fall that will be shaped by a political contest in many ways detached from genuinely pressing moral issues, it might also serve as a refreshingly complex source of ethical questioning."--Talya Zax, Forward
"Singer demonstrates how to write pungently and succinctly about moral philosophy."--Daniel Johnson, Standpoint
Table of Contents
Other Princeton books authored or coauthored by Peter Singer:
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