Peter Singer's latest book is The Most Good You Can Do: How Effective Altruism Is Changing Ideas About Living Ethically.
From his Q & A with Hamilton Nolan for Gawker:
You like to use donations to the arts as an example of a sort of bad choice of charity. What is the allure of charities like that, rather than lifesaving charities?Peter Singer is Ira W. DeCamp Professor of Bioethics at Princeton University. He is the author, co-author, or editor of more than thirty books, including Animal Liberation, widely considered to be the founding statement of the animal rights movement, Practical Ethics, and One World: Ethics and Globalization.
Singer: With a lot of people—not people who are giving many millions, but smaller donors—they seem to be giving on impulse. They seem to be giving in an emotionally directed way, without having that reflective check on whether the charity that they're emotionally attracted to is really as good as it seems to be.
A lot of people don't think that one charity can be compared to another—that they're all good in their own way.
Singer: Do you think there are people who actually think that having a renovated concert hall for wealthy Manhattanites is as important as, let's say, restoring sight for blind people? For the $500 million [that it will take to restore Lincoln Center], you could have 5 million people able to see, or prevented from going blind [through an aid group like Hellen Keller International]. You could have a million women who are social outcasts because they suffer from fistula have their lives back together again. I don't think anybody who sits down and understands, on the one hand, you can renovate this concert hall, on the other hand, you can do this or this or this, would really think that the renovated concert hall is somehow just as good, or that you can't say one is better than the other. That...[read on]
The Page 99 Test: The Life You Can Save.