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Ethics in the Real World: 82 Brief Essays on Things That Matter

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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. No 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.


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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. No 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.

30 review for Ethics in the Real World: 82 Brief Essays on Things That Matter

  1. 5 out of 5

    Kevin Kelsey

    Posted at Heradas Review A wonderful collection of short essays, aimed toward every day people. Each designed to introduce some difficult ethical questions to those that may have never been forced to confront them in their day-to-day lives. The only failure of this book is, in retrospect, actually a success, it being inherent to the function of what the book set out to achieve; the essays are too brief, and as a result, often too black and white. The author, a utilitarian, undoubtedly understood t Posted at Heradas Review A wonderful collection of short essays, aimed toward every day people. Each designed to introduce some difficult ethical questions to those that may have never been forced to confront them in their day-to-day lives. The only failure of this book is, in retrospect, actually a success, it being inherent to the function of what the book set out to achieve; the essays are too brief, and as a result, often too black and white. The author, a utilitarian, undoubtedly understood that this was unavoidable, and chose to sacrifice a more complete, complex examination of each ethical quandary, in favor of reaching those most likely in need of asking these questions, by keeping the essays concise and to the point. Easily digestible in a few minutes. Demonstrably, this could be seen as the more ethical choice according to utilitarianism, and with it Peter Singer has shown how legitimate his commitment to living an ethical life really is. The essays really are perfect for reading while you're waiting in line at a bank, or waiting to meet some friends at a restaurant, etc. Bite size big questions about the world and how we fit into, both as a species, and individually. And you can read them whenever you have a spare 3-4 minutes. It's fantastic! Since finishing this collection, I've started following Singer online and reading his essays, published fairly frequently on Project Syndicate and various other websites. They're all very insightful, and bring up all kinds of fun questions and dilemmas to ponder. I think it's good for us to have to think occasionally about things that might make us uncomfortable. It helps to free us of our various cages, protective barriers, ideologies, and comfort zones that we've constructed around ourselves over the years. It's good to stretch those bonds at least a little, so we can test them and see if they're still useful.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Tso William

    The book consists of short essays from one of the most eminent philosophers of our age. The book title Ethics in the Real World is a little misleading because there are in fact essays on a range of topics: from Godless morality to New Year's resolution. As each essay is only a few pages and written in clear and understandable prose, it gives good introductions on major topics. The problem, however, is that sometimes the essays are so short that it gives no justice to Singer's thought. I have rea The book consists of short essays from one of the most eminent philosophers of our age. The book title Ethics in the Real World is a little misleading because there are in fact essays on a range of topics: from Godless morality to New Year's resolution. As each essay is only a few pages and written in clear and understandable prose, it gives good introductions on major topics. The problem, however, is that sometimes the essays are so short that it gives no justice to Singer's thought. I have read his essay on donation during a philosophy course and know that he is capable of making a nuanced argument. Here, brevity forces him to make statements that almost sound like mere platitude. He says, for example, that emission of greenhouse is bad and therefore we should stop it, or that we should have more global governance and less secret diplomacy. The real gem is still Singer's views on ethics and morality. We see how he consistently applies his utilitarian outlook on ethical issues. He disagrees donating to a museum to build a new wing because the same sum can benefit the poor children in third world countries much more than the aesthetic experiences derived from a new wing. The same also applies in buying high-price art because the money used to buy art can save millions of children. The other interesting essays are on animal rights. Singer does not disagree with meat eating per se. He simply disagrees in causing great pain and suffering of the animals incurred as a result of meat eating.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Larry Bassett

    I have come to respect Peter singer in recent years because of his contributions to the field of effective altruism, doing the most good possible with your financial contributions to charities. I decided to read this book because it was by Peter Singer. I was somewhat disappointed but I think that was more because I felt somewhat overwhelmed by one short op ad piece after another. I wasn't especially interested in all of the topics and didn't feel that Peter added a great deal to my thinking abo I have come to respect Peter singer in recent years because of his contributions to the field of effective altruism, doing the most good possible with your financial contributions to charities. I decided to read this book because it was by Peter Singer. I was somewhat disappointed but I think that was more because I felt somewhat overwhelmed by one short op ad piece after another. I wasn't especially interested in all of the topics and didn't feel that Peter added a great deal to my thinking about many of them. Some of that was because I was familiar already with his thinking. And the last chapter that focused on various sports issues held very little interest for me. Although it was interesting to learn that Peter who is from Australia returned to surfing at the age of 50. Although the book is relatively recent many of the items go back a number of years and suffer as a result from a lack of current relevance. Peter is also evidently not a extremely popular or widely published op ed writer since the majority of items are from one particular source.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Liam Bai

    A collection of thought-provoking essays on ethical issues that should concern every single one of us. How can philosophy and ethics be valuable if they only raise questions that cannot be definitively answered? This thought always steered me away from philosophy – why are you sitting here thinking about these empty ideas when, instead, you can use this time to do something useful? I found an answer in this book: just like inventing new technologies, by thinking about and discussing things that m A collection of thought-provoking essays on ethical issues that should concern every single one of us. How can philosophy and ethics be valuable if they only raise questions that cannot be definitively answered? This thought always steered me away from philosophy – why are you sitting here thinking about these empty ideas when, instead, you can use this time to do something useful? I found an answer in this book: just like inventing new technologies, by thinking about and discussing things that matter, we can make this world a better place. Too often do we neglect issues extremely important to humanity (animal abuse, poverty, the credibility of charities, universal internet access...) that perhaps don’t concern us directly. We acquiesce to the status quo. This book thoughtfully challenges some of these ideas and inspired me to view them in different ways. The world doesn’t have to be run this way – especially if you think it’s messed up – but it will continue to be if no one questions it. Though categorical, Singer’s arguments are by no means abrasive. I admire his spirit of open discourse – he is assertive in his stance yet open to disagreement. His insightful essay on Harriet McBryde Johnson, a fervent and outspoken critic of his views on disability, demonstrates his respect and openness. Singer’s simple and concise style allows the reader to understand and participate in these discussions without any background in theories of philosophy. I found this particularly enjoyable. In fact, he rarely mentions that he is utilitarian and never expounds complex theories. Instead, he just states – without pretensions – what he believes to be right, and why you should agree with him. Indeed, discussions of these ever more important problems in our society should not be limited to the academic few that are well-versed in philosophy or the powerful few that dominate the political scene. These discussions should involve every one of us because we ALL share their consequences. It is our duty as citizens to think about these issues carefully and participate in these conversations – only this way can we bring about responsible change and steer humanity in the right direction.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Malcolm Everett

    Australian philosopher and Stanford professor Peter Singer provides bite-sized food for thought in this collection of mini essays on various ethical issues, which was written with a general audience in mind. The essays are organized according to topic, covering everything from animal rights and euthanasia to charitable giving and politics. As a teenager, these types of ethical questions were ones that I devoured endlessly. I lurked on online forums to discover different viewpoints and delighted Australian philosopher and Stanford professor Peter Singer provides bite-sized food for thought in this collection of mini essays on various ethical issues, which was written with a general audience in mind. The essays are organized according to topic, covering everything from animal rights and euthanasia to charitable giving and politics. As a teenager, these types of ethical questions were ones that I devoured endlessly. I lurked on online forums to discover different viewpoints and delighted in writing essays about controversial subjects. Now that I am out of school, there are fewer opportunities to intentionally explore these ideas. It seems that after a certain age, we stop questioning our beliefs and allow them to become immutably concrete. Ethics in the Real World was just the remedy I needed to refresh my opinions and perspective. It’s obvious that Singer has what many would label as a “liberal” mindset when it comes to most issues. He is a pro-choice, vegan atheist. I tend to follow a similar slant, so perhaps confirmation bias is part of the reason I enjoyed this book, although the moments my beliefs were challenged were the most rewarding. Singer often dissects recent news stories as case studies and incorporates scientific evidence in his arguments, which definitely makes him more persuasive. Here are some of the interesting moral quandaries I encountered: + Ethics are objective, rather than subjective. According to Singer, a universal truth exists. I’m not so sure about that claim myself, given that people can make equally convincing arguments about opposite sides of the same topic (e.g., infant euthanasia). + Ethics have a biological component. Singer says, “Like other psychological faculties of the mind, including language and mathematics, we are endowed with a moral faculty that guides our intuitive judgments of right and wrong.” This thought has crossed my mind before, but never has it been phrased so eloquently. The presence of innate morality, however, does not mean that we humans always follow our internal compass; we seem to have an equal propensity for violence and discrimination. + Morality pills could improve society. If morality has a genetic component, then we can manipulate negative impulses, as we already do with medications for mental illnesses. This reminds me that I really need to get around to reading A Clockwork Orange soon. + Everyone should go vegan. I think I’d be a vegan if I didn’t grow up as a picky meat-eater. Singer’s arguments for veganism and animal rights are utterly convincing (ha, cow pun), but I’ll just have to wait around for the lab-created meat revolution before I reduce my animal cruelty and carbon footprint. What can I say? Humans are selfish. + There’s a tradeoff between cheap goods and ethical production. This is an unfortunate fact I’ve always been aware of. Recently, I came across a thread on Reddit about how a woman purportedly found a note from a Chinese slave worker in a purse at Walmart. People were heatedly discussing whether or not the consumer was obligated to uncover the source of their purchases and stop shopping at places that didn’t follow certain ethical standards. It’s exhausting to try and make sure every component of every product you buy has been ethically produced. Most Americans certainly want those who make our goods to be treated well, but I doubt many people would want to pay twice as much as a result, especially with how that would affect low-income populations. This is a topic I’d like to research further. + Extremely premature babies should be euthanized. This is one of Singer’s most controversial stances, but I’d have to say I agree with the points he makes. Singer essentially claims that certain lives are better lost, given their low chances of a healthy life, but I do not believe that means he would think it ethical for those who are currently disabled to be killed. It’s one of the messier subjects, and I’m sure he has better addressed it in his longer works. It reminds me of the moral dilemma that arose from two deaf parents wanting to have a deaf child—should disability be forced upon any person, and does anyone have the right to make that choice, one way or the other? + Physician-assisted suicide is legal in Canada. One might expect that physician-assisted suicide would increase as a result of its legalization, given familial or societal pressures, but it was heartening to hear this was not the case in countries where it has been legalized. The court case examples Singer provides solidified my support of voluntary euthanasia. + Should we legalize the organ trade? Singer states that 10% of kidneys used in transplants were purchased on the black market and that Singapore did not increase organ sales by offering a monetary incentive. Therefore, the concern that monetizing organ donations would lead to an increase in low-income individuals donating their organs is unfounded. I’d like to read more about the facts behind this. + In Australia, cigarettes are sold in generic packaging by law. This makes so much sense. Fuck you, cigarette companies. You’re just selling cancer. Not that alcohol companies are much better, mind you. + Donating to arts organizations and buying high-priced art is unethical. Singer makes a convincing argument, but I can just imagine how my local arts organizations would rankle at this notion. People enjoy donating to local causes because it improves their own community; they are trying to better the small world they live in, not the entire globe. Sure, their money would go farther and make more of an impact if it went to curing malaria in Africa, but that contains little personal relevance for most people. Individuals want to make an impact that is meaningful to themselves and their loved ones, and they shouldn’t be made to feel guilty about self-oriented altruism. + Do the rich have an ethical obligation to donate money to the poor? Singer would answer this question with a resounding “YES,” and he’s very judgmental about how people spend their money. We are all put into our current positions as a result of luck, but many people maintain or rise in affluence due to hard work. Where should we draw the line between what is given and what is earned? The world’s wealthiest individuals donate far more than the middle class could ever hope to achieve, so why can’t the rich donate money to prevent malaria and also buy a painting as a status symbol, if they so please? + Australia has compulsory voting. I’ve heard this factoid before, but I’d forgotten about it. As Singer mentions, voter turnout and gerrymandering are serious problems in the American political system. However, I didn’t quite understand Singer’s points about why having a separate executive branch is useless. I was also surprised to hear him say that partisan politics are worse in the US than everywhere else; I suppose I thought political divides were just as bad in other countries, given the number of global controversies and protests. + Holocaust denial is a crime in Austria. Although I agree with Singer that this law violates freedom of speech, I find that I’m more swayed by the ethos behind it. Holocaust deniers can rot in jail for all I care. + Should we honor racists? All of the historical details about Woodrow Wilson were fascinating and reminiscent of the ongoing debates about civil war monuments in the Southern US. Conservatives have held tight to the Confederate flag, which they view as a symbol of Southern pride, although it’s probably more of a reactionary measure against liberal outrage—it’s all about tribalism and identity politics, not a rational assessment of the issue. There have been calls all over the US to rename certain schools or buildings that honor historical figures with great accomplishments, but whose morals no longer align with those of the present age. As Singer says, “History is full of deeply flawed people who did great things.” The Bottom Line: As you can see from my long list of bullet points, this book contained a lot of ideas worth dissecting. I look forward to reading more of Peter Singer’s work.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Fatma

    DNF at 68% - some of its arguments were engaging and thought-provoking (especially the ones on medical care), but for the most part I didn't really care for these essays. A lot of them felt obvious, and maybe that's because of the constraints of Singer's format. Personally, I thought the brevity of the essays robbed them of potential for nuance, and made them feel quite underwhelming at times. That being said, I'm deciding to DNF this because it simply isn't holding my attention right now. I'd r DNF at 68% - some of its arguments were engaging and thought-provoking (especially the ones on medical care), but for the most part I didn't really care for these essays. A lot of them felt obvious, and maybe that's because of the constraints of Singer's format. Personally, I thought the brevity of the essays robbed them of potential for nuance, and made them feel quite underwhelming at times. That being said, I'm deciding to DNF this because it simply isn't holding my attention right now. I'd rather not force myself to keep reading something just for the sake of finishing it.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Arnaud Vigouroux

    Excellent book that raises a lot of important questions that we are often uncomfortable to ask ourselves.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Matthew Kramer

    Dr. Singer is an instructor in bioethics at Princeton, which explains his relentlessly liberal viewpoint and thinly veiled contempt for religion, conservatives and basically everyone who does not agree with him. For an individual who supposedly has spent a lifetime developing the field of Bioethics, many of his arguments (they are in fact arguments, in support of his own opinions, not even-handed treatments of difficult questions) lack even a pretense of logical progression. As a physician who h Dr. Singer is an instructor in bioethics at Princeton, which explains his relentlessly liberal viewpoint and thinly veiled contempt for religion, conservatives and basically everyone who does not agree with him. For an individual who supposedly has spent a lifetime developing the field of Bioethics, many of his arguments (they are in fact arguments, in support of his own opinions, not even-handed treatments of difficult questions) lack even a pretense of logical progression. As a physician who has dealt with many problems of bioethics in the REAL WORLD, not an ivory tower, I found myself identifying logical contradictions and failures that invalidated many of his opinions even before the full argument had been presented. Some of Dr. Singer's more offensive arguments include (in paraphrase) that children born with Down syndrome or other disabilities should be put to death, that it is OK for doctors to unilaterally decide to kill nursing home residents with Alzheimer's disease, and that the U.S. health care system funding should be drastically cut to send aid to other countries, even if many persons then die here. Even liberals who believe that socialism and complete governmental control over the lives of citizens are appropriate societal aims would find many things here to give them pause. Presumably the level of governmental control advocated in these pages would be OK, as long as HE were the one in charge. In short, the book is claptrap and I don't even know why it is on the library shelf.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Text Publishing

    ‘Peter Singer’s status as a man of principles and towering intellect—a philosopher extraordinaire, if you will—is unrivalled in Australia.’ Sydney Morning Herald ‘Peter Singer is a public intellectual par excellence.’ Monthly ‘Peter Singer may be the most controversial philosopher alive; he is certainly among the most influential.’ New Yorker ‘Lucidly conceived and written, the brief essays in Ethics in the Real World attest to Singer’s enduring facility for wise, clear-headed enquiry into some of the ‘Peter Singer’s status as a man of principles and towering intellect—a philosopher extraordinaire, if you will—is unrivalled in Australia.’ Sydney Morning Herald ‘Peter Singer is a public intellectual par excellence.’ Monthly ‘Peter Singer may be the most controversial philosopher alive; he is certainly among the most influential.’ New Yorker ‘Lucidly conceived and written, the brief essays in Ethics in the Real World attest to Singer’s enduring facility for wise, clear-headed enquiry into some of the most pressing issues we face. It is not a manifesto for utilitarianism, but a convincing case for philosophy’s continued engagement with ethical questions that matter in the real world.’ Australian Book Review ‘I’d recommend Ethics in the Real World for reading at relaxed weekend breakfasts…These pieces are beaut conversation starters about topics of interest to everyone.’ ANZ LitLovers

  10. 4 out of 5

    Mehrsa

    I agree with Singer that the op-ed provides a great medium for scholars to advance their thoughts because it forces them to make their language less complicated and their thoughts more succinct. Having said that, there was no real coherency to this book--no connecting tissue from one thought to the other. It didn't even seem like there was any order at all to the random essays. Having said that each essay was really thought-provoking and it was great to have them all in one place and read Singer I agree with Singer that the op-ed provides a great medium for scholars to advance their thoughts because it forces them to make their language less complicated and their thoughts more succinct. Having said that, there was no real coherency to this book--no connecting tissue from one thought to the other. It didn't even seem like there was any order at all to the random essays. Having said that each essay was really thought-provoking and it was great to have them all in one place and read Singer trying to make sense of some of the biggest issues our society faces.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Brooke

    Jake and I listened to a couple essays in the car on a road trip which started some really good conversations. I want to discuss all 86 essays with someone on a road trip. That would be awesome.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Corey Wozniak

    This would make a great 'textbook' for a Philosophy & Ethics course at the high school level. I'd really like to teach such a class someday. The breadth is fantastic: "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... whether chimpanzees are people, smoking should be outlawed, or consensual sex between adult siblings should be decriminalised" and more. The This would make a great 'textbook' for a Philosophy & Ethics course at the high school level. I'd really like to teach such a class someday. The breadth is fantastic: "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... whether chimpanzees are people, smoking should be outlawed, or consensual sex between adult siblings should be decriminalised" and more. The best compliment I can give this book is that it made me want to be a better person. I was especially impacted by his arguments for "effective altruism." As a result of reading this book, Chelsee and I are trying to commit 1% of our income to the most effective charities (www.thelifeyoucansave.org). Right now, we are making monthly donations to the International Rescue Committee, the Fistula Foundation, and Protect Healthy Children. This is on top of the 10% we donate to the Church. This is because I think, like John Huntsman Senior, that tithing doesn't really count as philanthropy. (See https://www.ksl.com/?sid=30771721&...) 1% is still pretty paltry-- but it's more than we were doing before, and that's thanks to this book. Says Singer, “... those who have enough to spend on luxuries, yet fail to share even a tiny fraction of their income with the poor, must bear some responsibility for the deaths they could have prevented.” I think Singer is dead wrong on a lot of things, especially with regards to the sanctity of life/abortion/disability, but I think he is earnest, and I admire him. What I really admire is his commitment to doing *worthwhile* work in Philosophy/Ethics. Instead of being cloistered in the Ivory Tower, publishing exclusively in musty journals, he is a public philosopher, applying his prodigious intellect to convincing us all to rise up and be more ethical.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Tony

    Ethics in the Real World is a collection of Singer's writings on a wide range of topics, ranging from vegetarianism and charitable giving to parenting and artificial lifeforms. The essays can be interesting and thought provoking. However, if one is at all knowledgeable about the subject matter, the author's views routinely come across as shockingly naive. He also writes as if his subjective value judgments were universal truths; they are not.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Tiffany

    This book will make you think about every single thing you do. It will also make you want to be a better person. This book will also make you want to be a deeper better thinker. Professor Singer does these things effortlessly in easy language George Orwell would approve of. He does it with humility, sincerity and brio. Everyone should have this on their bed side table ready to be absorbed nightly.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Karine

    This collection of essays is thought-provoking and at times, controversial. I was inspired to try veganism and dismayed by Singer's lack of appreciation for art and culture, which he consistently values below disease-prevention. Bunched by topic, the essays can be quite repetitive and are not ideal for road-trip listening. The book is better in small doses.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Teo 2050

    2017.09.23–2017.09.26 Contents Singer P (2016) (09:04) Ethics in the Real World - 86 Brief Essays on Things that Matter Introduction Acknowledgments Big Questions 01. The Value of a Pale Blue Dot (from Project Syndicate, May 14, 2009) 02. Does Anything Matter? (from Project Syndicate, June 13, 2011) 03. Is There Moral Progress? (from Project Syndicate, April 14, 2008) 04. God and Suffering, Again (from Free Inquiry, a publication of the Council for Secular Humanism, a program of the Center for Inquiry, O 2017.09.23–2017.09.26 Contents Singer P (2016) (09:04) Ethics in the Real World - 86 Brief Essays on Things that Matter Introduction Acknowledgments Big Questions 01. The Value of a Pale Blue Dot (from Project Syndicate, May 14, 2009) 02. Does Anything Matter? (from Project Syndicate, June 13, 2011) 03. Is There Moral Progress? (from Project Syndicate, April 14, 2008) 04. God and Suffering, Again (from Free Inquiry, a publication of the Council for Secular Humanism, a program of the Center for Inquiry, October/ November 2008) 05. Godless Morality (with Marc Hauser) (from Project Syndicate, January 4, 2006) 06. Are We Ready for a “Morality Pill”? (with Agata Sagan) (from The New York Times, January 28, 2012) 07. The Quality of Mercy (from Project Syndicate, August 31, 2009) 08. Thinking about the Dead (from Free Inquiry, a publication of the Council for Secular Humanism, a program of the Center for Inquiry, Summer 2003) 09. Should This Be the Last Generation? (from The New York Times, June 6, 2010) 10. Philosophy on Top (from Project Syndicate, April 9, 2014) 11. We Must Nurture the Humanities (from the Sydney Morning Herald, July 27, 2009) Animals 12. Europe’s Ethical Eggs (from Project Syndicate, January 17, 2012) 13. If Fish Could Scream (from Project Syndicate, September 13, 2010) 14. Cultural Bias against Whaling? (from Project Syndicate, January 14, 2008) 15. A Case for Veganism (from Free Inquiry, a publication of the Council for Secular Humanism, a program of the Center for Inquiry, April/May 2007) 16. Consider the Turkey: Thoughts for Thanksgiving (Not previously published) 17. In Vitro Meat (from The Guardian, August 5, 2013) 18. Chimpanzees Are People, Too (from New York Daily News, October 21, 2014) 19. The Cow Who . . . (from Project Syndicate, February 2016) Beyond the Ethic of the Sanctity of Life 20. The Real Abortion Tragedy (from Project Syndicate, August 13, 2012) 21. Treating (or Not) the Tiniest Babies (from Free Inquiry, a publication of the Council for Secular Humanism, a program of the Center for Inquiry, June/July 2007) 22. Pulling Back the Curtain on the Mercy Killing of Newborns (from The Los Angeles Times, March 11, 2005) 23. No Diseases for Old Men (from Project Syndicate, March 14, 2008) 24. When Doctors Kill (from Project Syndicate, November 13, 2009) 25. Choosing Death (from Project Syndicate, September 9, 2014) 26. The Tide Is Turning in Australia’s Euthanasia Debate (from the Age, March 2, 2016) Bioethics and Public Health 27. The Human Genome and the Genetic Supermarket (from Free Inquiry, a publication of the Council for Secular Humanism, a program of the Center for Inquiry, Winter 2001) 28. The Year of the Clone? (from Free Inquiry, a publication of the Council for Secular Humanism, a program of the Center for Inquiry, Summer 2001) 29. Kidneys for Sale? (from Project Syndicate, August 14, 2009) 30. We Have a Moral Obligation to Donate Organs (with Julian Savulescu and William Isdale) (from the Age, August 25, 2015) 31. The Many Crises of Health Care (from Project Syndicate, December 7, 2009) 32. Public Health versus Private Freedom? (from Project Syndicate, September 6, 2012) 33. Weigh More, Pay More (from Project Syndicate, March 12, 2012) 34. Should We Live to 1,000? (from Project Syndicate, December 10, 2012) 35. Population and the Pope (from Project Syndicate, February 11, 2015) Sex and Gender 36. Should Adult Sibling Incest Be a Crime? (from Project Syndicate, October 8, 2014) 37. Homosexuality Is Not Immoral (from Project Syndicate, October 16, 2006) 38. Virtual Vices (from Project Syndicate, July 17, 2007) 39. A Private Affair? (from Project Syndicate, May 14, 2007) 40. How Much Should Sex Matter? (with Agata Sagan) (from Project Syndicate, April 13, 2012) 41. God and Woman in Iran (from Project Syndicate, October 11, 2012) Doing Good 42. Australia Gives the World’s Poor Little More than Small Change (from the Age, February 18, 2010) 43. Holding Charities Accountable (from Project Syndicate, February 14, 2008) 44. Blatant Benevolence (from Project Syndicate, June 13, 2008) 45. Good Charity, Bad Charity (from The New York Times, August 10, 2013) 46. Heartwarming Causes Are Nice, but Let’s Give to Charity with Our Heads (from The Washington Post, December 19, 2013) 47. The Ethical Cost of High-Price Art (from Project Syndicate, June 4, 2014) 48. Preventing Human Extinction (with Nick Beckstead and Matt Wage) (from www.effective-altruism.com/ea/50/prev..., August 19, 2013) Happiness 49. Happiness, Money, and Giving It Away (from Project Syndicate, July 12, 2006) 50. Can We Increase Gross National Happiness? (from Project Syndicate, September 13, 2011) 51. The High Cost of Feeling Low (from Project Syndicate, October 15, 2007) 52. No Smile Limit (from Project Syndicate, April 16, 2007) 53. Happy, Nevertheless (from The New York Times Magazine, December 28, 2008) Politics 54. Bentham’s Fallacies, Then and Now (from Project Syndicate, August 12, 2015) 55. The Founding Fathers’ Fiscal Crisis (from Project Syndicate, October 2, 2013) 56. Why Vote? (from Project Syndicate, December 14, 2007) 57. Free Speech, Muhammad, and the Holocaust (from Project Syndicate, March 1, 2006) 58. The Use and Abuse of Religious Freedom (from Project Syndicate, June 11, 2012) 59. An Honest Man? (from Project Syndicate, July 30, 2003) 60. Is Citizenship a Right? (from Project Syndicate, May 6, 2014) 61. The Spying Game (from Project Syndicate, July 5, 2013) 62. A Statue for Stalin? (from Project Syndicate, January 9, 2014) 63. Should We Honor Racists? (from Project Syndicate, December 11, 2015) Global Governance 64. Escaping the Refugee Crisis (from Project Syndicate, September 1, 2015) 65. Is Open Diplomacy Possible? (from Project Syndicate, December 13, 2010) 66. The Ethics of Big Food (from Project Syndicate, March 12, 2013) 67. Fairness and Climate Change (with Teng Fei) (from Project Syndicate, April 11, 2013) 68. Will the Polluters Pay for Climate Change? (from Project Syndicate, August 5, 2006) 69. Why Are They Serving Meat at a Climate Change Conference? (with Frances Kissling) (from The Washington Post, June 15, 2012) 70. Dethroning King Coal (from Project Syndicate, August 6, 2013) 71. Paris and the Fate of the Earth (from Project Syndicate, November 11, 2015) Science and Technology 72. A Clear Case for Golden Rice (from Project Syndicate, February 17, 2014) 73. Life Made to Order (from Project Syndicate, June 11, 2010) 74. Rights for Robots? (with Agata Sagan) (from Project Syndicate, December 14, 2009) 75. A Dream for the Digital Age (from Project Syndicate, September 9, 2013) 76. A Universal Library (from Project Syndicate, April 13, 2011) 77. The Tragic Cost of Being Unscientific (from Project Syndicate, December 15, 2008) Living, Playing, Working 78. Rootless, Voteless, but Happily Floating (with Renata Singer) (from the Age, December 26, 2004) 79. How to Keep a New Year’s Resolution (from Project Syndicate, January 4, 2010) 80. Why Pay More? (from Project Syndicate, May 9, 2013) 81. Tiger Mothers or Elephant Mothers? (from Project Syndicate, February 11, 2011) 82. Volkswagen and the Future of Honesty (from Project Syndicate, October 7, 2015) 83. Is Doping Wrong? (from Project Syndicate, August 14, 2007) 84. Is It OK to Cheat at Football? (from Project Syndicate, June 28, 2010) 85. A Surfing Reflection (from Project Syndicate, January 15, 2015) 86. Legacy of a Lifetime (from the Sydney Morning Herald, January 1, 2011) Notes

  17. 5 out of 5

    Michael Kich

    Ummm, this title actually bored me. I didn't object to anything written within it, and I don't object in principle to the chosen format (short, 2-3 page essays on a variety of topics taken from roughly a decade-long period), but it just didn't inspire very much curiosity or new thought in me. Every conclusion he reached was what would be obviously ethical, or at least what I would already judge as the ethical position. It's not that I want to strenuously object to whatever I'm reading, but that Ummm, this title actually bored me. I didn't object to anything written within it, and I don't object in principle to the chosen format (short, 2-3 page essays on a variety of topics taken from roughly a decade-long period), but it just didn't inspire very much curiosity or new thought in me. Every conclusion he reached was what would be obviously ethical, or at least what I would already judge as the ethical position. It's not that I want to strenuously object to whatever I'm reading, but that I would like to be surprised at least some of the time. If I'm surprised, then I'm interested and I can hear myself vocalizing the "huh!" that signals genuine engagement. If I'm engaged, I'm much more likely to remember whatever it is, unlike the rows of forgettable essays I just read. Ok, that's mean...but true, in my case. It's not that Peter's writing or reasoning is bad, but that I'd hoped for something newer to me. I'm also ambivalent about the place of works like these - works that deal in 'should', because it's a work on ethics. On the one hand, I believe that ethics is lacking in the world and we see the results of that all around us. It has real consequences, from politics to technology, and there's this frustrating myopia you see (particularly in the tech world), where individuals and businesses rush ahead to be the first to achieve an ethically dubious goal, simply because it's there. I do object to that, and Peter Singer's work is important there. On the other hand, the cynic sitting hunched on a stool inside of my head points out that humans have never seriously heeded ethics, and somehow the force behind 'should' is always primarily intellectual, which...for however much we esteem the intellect (in certain circles, anyway), we are not primarily intellectual, but rather emotional, creatures. On the other hand, like one of his essays on New Year's resolutions, just because we tend to fail at ethics, doesn't mean that we should forsake it. In the case of climate change, which he discusses most prominently throughout the book, we cannot afford to forsake ethics (though we have). I guess reading this book did leave me with the question, "is it better to be a cynic and live satisfied with low expectations for myself and the world around me, or, given that that already sounds bleak, is it better to pursue a tired mantra of what me must do in the face of what we aren't doing, and don't do?" I guess you have to be a bit of a masochist to pursue things that really matter; then again, I should know that already from the rest of life. These reviews always turn into rambles in my case, because I can't be bothered to edit my points in order, so instead everything just tumbles out in the order it occurs to me, which is usually disjointed. Given that I'm probably the only one who reads my reviews, that's okay though. I'm kind of reminded of a number of articles on repopularizing Aristotle that I've read recently: Peter's approach to ethics must have been strongly influenced by him. I agree with the style of thinking that Peter exercises with any dilemma - that is, that every situation is highly nuanced, and although he is stridently utilitarian (the greatest good for the greatest number of people, or beings), answers to worldwide problems are rarely black-and-white. I do appreciate that. Also, similarly to Aristotle, Peter doesn't attempt to formulate a 'system', an approach which has become so popular in the last few decades. People always want a coherent framework that is entirely self-contained - like becoming a stoic, or a Buddhist, or whatever else you might think of with its own discrete philosophy and packaged view of the world. The Aristotelian approach (which is something I'm assuming, and not something Peter himself ever claims in his essays in this book) assumes that context is all-important, and as such any rigid system recommending certain responses to the world is going to be lacking. To conclude this text-based rant, I would have liked to have been changed more by what I read, but it's also unfair to claim that it didn't make me think at all - because that's not true either.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Marks54

    Peter Singer is a well known and influential Australian bioethicist who teaches at Princeton. This book presents a series of "80 brief essays" on things that matter. So this is a book in which a highly regarded philosopher presents some of his core insights working under a constraint of a 1000 word space constraint. I thought about this for a while before I began. Philosophy is hard to read and takes much time and attention. There is much craft involved in it, although it is often difficult enou Peter Singer is a well known and influential Australian bioethicist who teaches at Princeton. This book presents a series of "80 brief essays" on things that matter. So this is a book in which a highly regarded philosopher presents some of his core insights working under a constraint of a 1000 word space constraint. I thought about this for a while before I began. Philosophy is hard to read and takes much time and attention. There is much craft involved in it, although it is often difficult enough to just understand an argument and not why the method is or is not important. Ethics in any of its forms complicates the task of understanding even more, in that it concerns human behaviors and standards of desirable or defensible behavior. Some arguments are important on matters of principle while others depend on the outcomes of human activities - and both are often important. It strikes me that "ethics" in various applied situations substitutes general invocations or scolds for quality analysis and that ethical controversies are often situations where one is damned if one does and damned if one doesn't. This makes ethics a difficult load to teach in professional schools. I found many of Singer's essays very engaging and even stimulating. He writes very clearly and is expert in mapping out the various dimensions involved in an argument. The essays I enjoyed the most were concerned with various bioethical topics related to illness, treatments, aging, end of life decisions, animal rights, and hard decisions about resource allocations and physician decisions. The essays later in the book were less engaging, although there were exceptions, such as his argument about rethinking blanket opposition to genetically modified organisms. I found my initial concerns justified in part, however, in that I did not get the appreciation I had hoped for about the details of the arguments and how one can best consider complex cases. Too many of these essays read more life study notes for arguments to remember something about them that a dive into the argument. I cannot really blame Singer, since he was transparent in what he was doing and provided a large number of interesting briefs. I guess I will just have to read more of his work. That will not be much of a burden. This collection was an enjoyable introduction.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Lisa

    Australian Peter Singer is one of my favourite philosophers because he writes about everyday issues that thoughtful citizens need to think about clearly. I’ve reviewed a couple of his books about philanthropy (The Most Good You Can Do, and The Life You Can Save) but this latest title Ethics in the Real World is different because it ranges widely over a variety of topics and as the sub-title says, it’s 86 Brief Essays on Things That Matter. The 82 essays are short pieces of less than 1000 words w Australian Peter Singer is one of my favourite philosophers because he writes about everyday issues that thoughtful citizens need to think about clearly. I’ve reviewed a couple of his books about philanthropy (The Most Good You Can Do, and The Life You Can Save) but this latest title Ethics in the Real World is different because it ranges widely over a variety of topics and as the sub-title says, it’s 86 Brief Essays on Things That Matter. The 82 essays are short pieces of less than 1000 words written for newspapers or from Singer’s monthly column for Project Syndicate, a news service for media outlets in countries around the world. As such, the essays resemble opinion pieces, and I didn’t find them as satisfying as his other books which offer a sustained and reasoned argument supporting his points of view. It’s a book best dipped into on and off IMO. The topics are arranged under headings which are self-explanatory: •Big Questions •Animals •Beyond the Ethics of the Sanctity of Life •Bioethics and Public Health •Sex and Gender •Doing Good •Happiness •Politics •Global Governance •Science and Technology, and •Living Playing Working Singer is best known for his controversial views on animal liberation, on medical treatment for very premature babies and on euthanasia, but these pieces show that he can also present confronting arguments about other issues. To read the rest of my review please visit https://anzlitlovers.com/2016/10/01/e...

  20. 5 out of 5

    Amy

    I agree

  21. 5 out of 5

    Bradley Eylander

    Due to small length of each essay Singer is forced to state a ethical issue and give HIS solution and opinion. It's missing the well thought reasoning behind his opinion and why the contrary view is incorrect. For example, when he talks about global warming he briefly mentions that people don't view all lives as of equal value, hence why rich societies and people are not doing enough to stop their greenhouse gas effects which affects poor people more than rich ones. Well why should the reader th Due to small length of each essay Singer is forced to state a ethical issue and give HIS solution and opinion. It's missing the well thought reasoning behind his opinion and why the contrary view is incorrect. For example, when he talks about global warming he briefly mentions that people don't view all lives as of equal value, hence why rich societies and people are not doing enough to stop their greenhouse gas effects which affects poor people more than rich ones. Well why should the reader think all lives are equal? That's a really good question that the author assumes is true. The book was like that the whole time. If you're liberal and of the same mindset as Singer you're probably going to like this book, if you don't have a stance (me) you will think this book is too shallow to really accept Singer's views. That said I have huge respect for Singer because all modern philosophers and intelligent minds of our age (21 century) reference Singer. Maybe I need to read Singer's book on Ethics to really appreciate his thinking on the subjects of this book.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Peter Jaimez

    Not a a philosopher a Parrot! Putting aside the merits, or lack of them, of the arguments is very sad when you only find those ideas that a) make the author feel superior to the rest on mankind, b) Help insure his status and material well being. Of course thinking about the issues would threaten not only his pocket but his vision of himself. And that is what I desire from a real "lover of wisdom" A single example: a single old badly tuned car in Caracas puts out more pollution in an hour than a thou Not a a philosopher a Parrot! Putting aside the merits, or lack of them, of the arguments is very sad when you only find those ideas that a) make the author feel superior to the rest on mankind, b) Help insure his status and material well being. Of course thinking about the issues would threaten not only his pocket but his vision of himself. And that is what I desire from a real "lover of wisdom" A single example: a single old badly tuned car in Caracas puts out more pollution in an hour than a thousand new cars in a non socialist country. And that is something that can be checked, contrary to the "science" of second hand smoking. Of course the essays are very well written and if you believe that the experiment in Venezuela, Cuba, North Korea, etc is a noble one you will love them. In any case the book helps illuminate some of the anti-life-civilisation ideas of the "professors" Peter A free man living in Caracas

  23. 4 out of 5

    Abhishek Kona

    This is a series of essays from Peter singers newspaper columns. The essays introduce the reader to various ethical issues today and how the author reasons or thinks about them. It is an opinionated book. The book does not provide some sort of decision framework, it treats each issue case by case. This book was mind opening. The criticism I have it some essays are too simple, may be the author wanted to make it accessible to the casual newspaper reader.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Frank

    If you don't like philosophy, read this. Ethics in the real world is philosophy as it was originally meant to be: careful thinking about real world issues and how to address them. No nonsensical word games, just pragmatic, thought provoking essays about issues anybody should be concerned with, without falling back on "well, God done said in this Bronze Age book written by illiterate herdsmen that..."

  25. 4 out of 5

    Aboozar Hadavand

    While I find some of the arguments novel and interesting, there are major flaws in there author's provided information that is used to start each argument. I found the statistics he provided on Iran flawed. Also don't expect it to be a public policy guideline but just a thought exercise book given the impracticality of some of his arguments.

  26. 4 out of 5

    John Fredrickson

    In this book, Singer explores a myriad of subjects from the standpoint of ethical considerations. Often this takes unexpected turns, as when he explores our predilection for eating meat and its impact on climate change issues. Each essay is extremely short, and is quickly read, but they touch on subjects that are quite diverse.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Cian Breen

    Peter Singer is a joy to read. His utilitarian views are highly rational and enlightening. The essays contained in this book are indeed brief but they cover a wide range of important topics. This is an excellent introduction to Singer's work.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Darnell

    Too brief, in my opinion - this book is more a clear statement of all Singer's positions than an attempt to defend them. Singer is a concise writer, though, I'm interested in reading his thoughts at a level with more rigor.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Manaal Faruqui

    highly recommend for those who would like a quick grasp on different topics that touch ethics in the real world. it's a collection of essays on such topics with every essay being 2-3 pages which makes it easier to digest while not getting bored.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Edward Sullivan

    A great collection of short, accessible essays that are intellectually and morally challenging. Many would be great for small group discussions.

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