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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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... the past, but in Britain and the United States it was only some years later that it became possible to broach the subject. Today, by contrast, a scarred identity earns almost universal respect. PeterSinger’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 ...

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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... the worse pain? Alternatively, you have enough medicine to treat one wound. Do you save the endangered leg of X or the endangered toe of Y, who has already lost a leg? Those are two of the variations PeterSinger 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 ...
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 PeterSinger’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 ...
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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... Afghanistan 12 per cent. These facts suggest that there are big problems of human misery in the world, 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 ...

Stop the Robot Apocalypse

Amia Srinivasan: The New Utilitarians

23 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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... movement, encompassing groups such as GiveWell (founded by two hedge-fund managers at around the same time as MacAskill and Ord started their work), The Life You Can Save (founded by the philosopher PeterSinger), 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 ...
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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... not only to be intellectually capable of assessing authority in the present but also to succeed in keeping one’s historical distance from the master in question. The last of these five titles, PeterSinger’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 ...

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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... not to infants or to the severely retarded. Again it is the lack of a philosophical solution to the problem of the special moral significance of specifically human life which has led Michael Tooley, PeterSinger 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 ...

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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... her vegetarianism comes out of moral conviction, she bewilderingly replies that no, ‘it comes out of a desire to save my soul.’ Four scholars were invited to reply to Coetzee – Marjorie Garber, PeterSinger, 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 ...

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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... the implication that most of us in the rich countries are living morally unacceptable lives). Utilitarianism makes it difficult to avoid this conclusion, and it is accepted by some utilitarians, like PeterSinger. 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 ...

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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... rather than created, modified rather than rewritten, analysed rather than entered into; they invite precisely the epithets with which McMahan’s book has been greeted – ‘novel and ingenious’, PeterSinger 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 ...

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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... of a lynching.’ ‘The Human Prejudice’ is a major essay, previously unpublished, analysing and defending our special concern for our fellow humans. Williams wonders mischievously whether PeterSinger, 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 ...
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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... and Isabel Oakeshott, political editor of the Sunday Times, travelled the world to investigate ‘factory farming’. The horrors they witness will come as little surprise to anyone who has read PeterSinger, 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 ...

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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... hears singing from upstairs as he waits for his wife after the Misses Morkans’ dance: Gabriel 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 ...

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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... India; the wild sheep of the Himalayas; the jaguar, caiman and marsh deer of Brazil; and, latterly, 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 ...

In a Faraway Pond

David Runciman: The NGO

29 November 2007
Non-Governmental Politics 
edited by Michel Feher.
Zone, 693 pp., £24.95, May 2007, 978 1 890951 74 0
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... actions. They have to rely on the force of their arguments. Yet what are forceful arguments in the absence of political muscle? Take one of the best-known arguments in contemporary moral philosophy: PeterSinger’s attempt to prove that there is no ‘domestic’ and ‘foreign’ when it comes to suffering in a globalised world. Singer first made his case in 1971, in response to the humanitarian ...

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