Peter Singer is an animal-rights activist, philosopher, and bioethics professor at Princeton University.
For the Wall Street Journal, he answered some questions from Alexandra Alter about his new book, The Life You Can Save: Acting Now to End World Poverty, including:
The Wall Street Journal: What's your biggest moral shortcoming?Read more about The Life You Can Save.
Peter Singer: I don't go as far as I think I might in what I'm able to give.
How much do you give?
I give a third of my income to Oxfam and other organizations working in the field. I still feel that, as comfortably off as I am, I should be giving more. We still take family vacations to nice places. We could spend time somewhere less expensive. Also, I'm still prepared to have a bottle of wine or go to the theater or to some kind of concert. If you think about what that money can do for people in extreme poverty, it's hard to justify that type of spending.
You claim that allowing poor people to suffer and die while we spend money on unnecessary things is the same as letting a child drown because you don't want to ruin new shoes or be late for work. Isn't that analogy slightly off, since you also note that one of the reasons most of us don't give money to poor people in developing countries is that we are so removed from their suffering?
The question I raise in the book is....[read on]