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They can’t do anything to me

Jeremy Adler: Peter Singer, 20 January 2005

Pushing Time Away: My Grandfather and the Tragedy of Jewish Vienna 
by Peter Singer.
Granta, 254 pp., £15.99, July 2004, 1 86207 696 0
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... to broach the subject. Today, by contrast, a scarred identity earns almost universal respect. Peter Singer’s Pushing Time Away reflects this shift. He used to be, he says, far too busy writing his philosophy to bother with his grandfather. It was only when he noticed an affinity between his work on ‘practical ethics’ and his maternal ...

Eating animals is wrong

Colin McGinn, 24 January 1991

Animal Liberation 
by Peter Singer.
Cape, 320 pp., £15.95, October 1990, 0 224 03018 3
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... I have been persuaded of the rightness of the moral position advocated in Peter Singer’s Animal Liberation for the past twenty years. There is, in my view, no moral justification whatever for the human exploitation of animals. I was convinced of this principally by reading the path-breaking book, Animals Men and Morals (1971), edited by Stanley and Roslind Godlovitch and John Harris ...

Animal Happiness

Brigid Brophy, 5 June 1980

Practical Ethics 
by Peter Singer.
Cambridge, 237 pp., £10, February 1980, 0 521 22920 0
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... leg of X or the endangered toe of Y, who has already lost a leg? Those are two of the variations Peter Singer puts forward on the exam question that used to ask whether, in a fire of just such severity as to let you rescue one and no more, you would plump for your grandparent, your grandchild or the Titian that so surprisingly shared houseroom with ...

If Oxfam ran the world

Martha Nussbaum, 4 September 1997

Living High and Letting Die: Our Illusion of Innocence 
by Peter Unger.
Oxford, 187 pp., £35, October 1996, 0 19 507584 6
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... problems that should be addressed by theories both of personal morality and of global justice. Peter Unger argues that we are culpably indifferent to this misery, and that our daily thinking about our duty to others is marked by self-serving irrationality. We typically believe that we do have a moral duty to rescue others who are at risk, especially where ...

Stop the Robot Apocalypse

Amia Srinivasan: The New Utilitarians, 24 September 2015

Doing Good Better: Effective Altruism and a Radical New Way to Make a Difference 
by William MacAskill.
Guardian Faber, 325 pp., £14.99, August 2015, 978 1 78335 049 0
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... time as MacAskill and Ord started their work), The Life You Can Save (founded by the philosopher Peter Singer), Good Ventures (founded by the Facebook cofounder Dustin Moskovitz and his wife, Cari Tuna, who have pledged to give away most of their money), Animal Charity Evaluators (an 80,000 Hours spin-off) and the Open Philanthropy Project (a ...

Short Books on Great Men

John Dunn, 22 May 1980

Jesus 
by Humphrey Carpenter.
Oxford, 102 pp., June 1980, 0 19 283016 3
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Aquinas 
by Anthony Kenny.
Oxford, 86 pp., June 1980, 0 19 287500 0
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Pascal 
by Alban Krailsheimer.
Oxford, 84 pp., June 1980, 0 19 287512 4
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Hume 
by A.J. Ayer.
Oxford, 102 pp., June 1980, 0 19 287528 0
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Marx 
by Peter Singer.
Oxford, 82 pp., June 1980, 0 19 287510 8
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... in keeping one’s historical distance from the master in question. The last of these five titles, Peter Singer’s Marx, is a somewhat hasty little book. Marx is obviously an exceptionally difficult figure for such a study. His work ranges so widely. It is concerned so directly and so urgently with intricate practical affairs; and it is so decisively ...

Life and Death

Philippa Foot, 7 August 1986

The End of Life 
by James Rachels.
Oxford, 196 pp., £12.95, January 1986, 9780192177469
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Voluntary Euthanasia 
edited by A.B. Downing and Barbara Smoker.
Peter Owen, 303 pp., £14.95, February 1986, 0 7206 0651 9
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Moral Dilemmas in Modern Medicine 
edited by Michael Lockwood.
Oxford, 250 pp., £12.95, January 1986, 0 19 217743 5
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... problem of the special moral significance of specifically human life which has led Michael Tooley, Peter Singer and James Rachels to some of their more bizarre views about the moral equality of the higher animals and some human beings. These are deep theoretical problems, which will not easily be solved. What is remarkable about these philosophers and ...

A Frog’s Life

James Wood: Coetzee’s Confessions, 23 October 2003

Elizabeth Costello: Eight Lessons 
by J.M. Coetzee.
Secker, 233 pp., £14.99, September 2003, 0 436 20616 1
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... a desire to save my soul.’ Four scholars were invited to reply to Coetzee – Marjorie Garber, Peter Singer, Barbara Smuts and Wendy Doniger – and all of them struggled in different ways to read his meanings. Singer seemed to suggest that Coetzee’s device was fundamentally evasive. ‘It’s a marvellous ...

One-to-One

Thomas Nagel: What We Owe to Each Other by T.M. Scanlon, 4 February 1999

What We Owe to Each Other 
by T.M. Scanlon.
Harvard, 480 pp., £21.95, February 1999, 0 674 95089 5
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... makes it difficult to avoid this conclusion, and it is accepted by some utilitarians, like Peter Singer. There are so many people you could save, each at a modest cost. Scanlon mentions this problem without offering an unqualified answer, but here is a suggestion. While no one could reasonably reject some requirement of aid from the affluent to ...

Fearful Thoughts

Stephen Mulhall: Morality by Numbers, 22 August 2002

The Ethics of Killing: Problems at the Margins of Life 
by Jeff McMahan.
Oxford, 554 pp., £35, February 2002, 0 19 507998 1
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... precisely the epithets with which McMahan’s book has been greeted – ‘novel and ingenious’, Peter Singer tells us on the dust-jacket, rather than, say, ‘wise and insightful’. McMahan’s ‘Sacrificial Newborn’, with which we began (my title, not his; strangely, it doesn’t appear in his index), is a case in point. Its sole rationale is to ...

The View from Here and Now

Thomas Nagel: A Tribute to Bernard Williams, 11 May 2006

The Sense of the Past: Essays in the History of Philosophy 
by Bernard Williams, edited by Myles Burnyeat.
Princeton, 393 pp., £26.95, March 2006, 0 691 12477 9
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In the Beginning Was the Deed: Realism and Moralism in Political Argument 
by Bernard Williams, edited by Geoffrey Hawthorn.
Princeton, 174 pp., £18.95, October 2005, 0 691 12430 2
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Philosophy as a Humanistic Discipline 
edited by Bernard Williams and A.W. Moore.
Princeton, 227 pp., £22.95, January 2006, 0 691 12426 4
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... and defending our special concern for our fellow humans. Williams wonders mischievously whether Peter Singer, a leading critic of such ‘speciesism’, feels uncomfortable about his position as a professor at Princeton’s Center for Human Values: ‘I should have thought it would have sounded to him rather like a Center for Aryan ...

How much meat is too much?

Bee Wilson, 20 March 2014

Farmageddon: The True Cost of Cheap Meat 
by Philip Lymbery, with Isabel Oakeshott.
Bloomsbury, 426 pp., £12.99, January 2014, 978 1 4088 4644 5
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Planet Carnivore 
by Alex Renton.
Guardian, 78 pp., £1.99, August 2013
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... farming’. The horrors they witness will come as little surprise to anyone who has read Peter Singer, Michael Pollan, Felicity Lawrence, Eric Schlosser or any of the previous exposés of factory-farmed meat, but they make grim and startling reading even so. If you can get beyond the title, the great virtues of Farmageddon are its global reach ...

Against Whales

Paul Keegan, 20 July 1995

The Moon by Whale Light 
by Diane Ackerman.
Phoenix, 260 pp., £6.99, May 1994, 1 85799 087 0
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The Last Panda 
by George Schaller.
Chicago, 292 pp., $13.95, May 1993, 0 226 73629 6
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The Great Ape Project 
edited by Paola Cavalieri and Peter Singer.
Fourth Estate, 312 pp., £9.99, June 1993, 1 85702 126 6
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... the giant panda of Sichuan Province in China. Schaller’s principles and practices inspired Peter Matthiessen’s The Snow Leopard. He is a big-game biologist, a student of spectacular individuals in nature rather than a toiler at the overlooked and the unindividuated: ‘An animal must provide an emotional experience if I am to involve myself in its ...

Pretty Things

Peter Campbell, 21 February 1980

Masquerade 
by Kit Williams.
Cape, 32 pp., £3.50, September 1980, 0 224 01617 2
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Beauty and the Beast 
by Rosemary Harris and Errol Le Cain.
Faber, 32 pp., £3.50, October 1980, 0 571 11374 5
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Mazel and Shlimazel 
by Isaac Bashevis Singer and Margot Zemach.
Cape, 42 pp., £3.95, November 1980, 0 224 01758 6
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La Corona 
by Russell Hoban and Nicola Bayley.
Cape, 32 pp., £3.50, September 1980, 0 224 01397 1
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Cats’Eyes 
by Anthony Taber.
Gollancz, 80 pp., £4.50, September 1980, 0 575 02664 2
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Comic and Curious Cats 
by Angela Carter and Martin Leman.
Gollancz, 32 pp., £3.50, April 1980, 0 575 02592 1
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The Wild Washerwomen 
by John Yeoman and Quentin Blake.
Hamish Hamilton, 32 pp., £3.75, October 1980, 0 241 89928 1
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... wants a collection of tales from her, not a single story that has been overdressed. Isaac Bashevis Singer’s Mazel and Schli-mazel also lives well by words alone. There is no feeling that Singer was constrained by his memory of the version of the story he was told by his mother as a child; rather, that he then learnt how to ...

Can’t it be me?

Glyn Maxwell: Amit Chaudhuri’s new novel, 9 April 2009

The Immortals 
by Amit Chaudhuri.
Picador, 407 pp., £16.99, March 2009, 978 0 330 45580 0
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... held up his hand for them to be silent. The song seemed to be in the old Irish tonality and the singer seemed uncertain both of his words and of his voice. The voice, made plaintive by distance and the singer’s hoarseness, faintly illuminated the cadence of the air with words expressing grief: O, the rain falls on my ...

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