Philosophy Index

Peter Singer

Peter Singer (1946— ) is a well-known moral philosopher, best known for his utilitarian stance on ethics.

The central idea of Peter Singer’s utilitarian moral philosophy is as follows: If you can prevent the misery of others without causing similar misery or sacrifice for yourself, you ought to.

World poverty

Singer is known in part for his stance against world poverty. Singer criticizes the gap between the wealthy and the poor, claiming that the fact that some people live with great wealth while others are unable to meet their basic needs is morally impermissible. It is well within the means of the developed, wealthy people of the world to prevent the widespread poverty in other areas, and the wealthy would not have to make a sacrifice anywhere near the level that the poor currently endure. Singer holds that our prefrence of our own comfort over everyone else’s is unethical, and perhaps even irrational.

Animal Liberation

Singer’s 1975 book Animal Liberation has become an important text outside of the philosophical community among those promoting animal welfare. In Animal Liberation, Singer says that society is guilty of “speciesism”—in that it favours the well-being of the human species, with nearly universal disregard for all of the other species on the planet.

Selected Works

  • Animal Liberation (1975)
  • Practical Ethics (1979)
  • Writings on an Ethical Life (2000)
  • One World: The Ethics of Globalisation (2002)
  • The Life You Can Save: Acting Now to End World Poverty (2009)

Vitals

Name: Peter Albert David Singer
Born: July 6, 1946
Degrees: B.Phil (Oxford, 1971)
MA (University of Melbourne, 1969)
BA (University of Melbourne, 1967)