Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Peter Singer

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 Jay Quigley for Animal Charity Evaluators:

JQ: Your book provides a compelling overview of effective altruism (EA) as a philosophy and social movement. What is the most important lesson that someone not familiar with effective altruism—animal activist or otherwise—can take away?

PS: It’s hard to boil it down to just one lesson, but if I have to do that, I’d say: stop to think before you make your choices! Whether it is a choice about where to give, what career to follow, where to volunteer, you should make sure that your head has a major role in your decision, as well as your heart.

JQ: One of the recurring questions that comes up in your book is the question of which cause to support. You seem to allow readers to draw their own conclusions about which of the main causes to support—be it poverty, animals, existential risk, or EA movement-building. But when it comes time for someone to make a donation—or choose a career—what factors should people think through in choosing a cause?

PS: Think about where you can make the biggest difference. One of the reasons I am not prescriptive about the choices you mention is that it is so difficult to compare, say, the suffering of hens kept for their entire lives in battery cages with the suffering of a woman in a developing country with an untreated obstetric fistula. We don’t have a methodology for doing that. With existential risk, the difficult philosophical question is how to take into account the loss of the untold billions of humans who, if we do not minimize risks to the survival of our species, and the worst happens, will never come into existence.

JQ: What does the best evidence—and/or your experience—suggest are some of the best ways to create new effective altruists and/or effective animal activists?

PS: First, get the ideas out there, through all the media you can access. Then...[read on]
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.

Visit The Life You Can Save website, Facebook page, and Twitter perch.

The Page 99 Test: The Life You Can Save.

The Page 99 Test: The Most Good You Can Do.

--Marshal Zeringue