Home Reading Review: Ethics in the Real World by Peter Singer

Review: Ethics in the Real World by Peter Singer

by Kristeena
Review: Ethics in the Real World by Peter SingerEthics in the Real World: 82 Brief Essays on Things That Matter by Peter Singer
Published by Princeton University Press on September 20th 2016
Genre: Nonfiction-Philosophy
Format: Hardcover
Pages: 376
Challenge Theme: A book about philosophy
Challenge Theme: A book of nonfiction essays

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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. 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.

This book took me almost a month to read, not because I didn’t like it, but because the subject matter wasn’t the easy fiction I am used to reading. I actually read 6 other books between the start & finish of this book. I needed to take breaks to read things that were fast paced. I did enjoy this subject matter but I had to talk myself into finishing it. I think it is mainly because I am a little over my reading challenge even though I am in the home stretch. If I do a challenge again next year it won’t be so many themes.

I find philosophy to be an interesting subject to read. I love reading what other people think about certain issues, even if I don’t agree. It shows me other views I may have not known or helps me understand other views even if I will NEVER agree. There are of course subjects that I found way more interesting than others, probably another one of the reasons I was slow to read this. A lot of these short essays were written years ago and some seemed a little outdated. I would have liked a follow up to some of the essays. I am definitely curious to read more books dealing with this subject matter. Maybe when I want to exercise my brain a little more than normal 🙂

Favorite Quotes:
“Words do have consequences, and what one generation says but does not really believe, the next generation may believe, and even act upon.”

“We need to get over our reluctance to speak openly about the good we do. Silent giving will not change a culture that deems it sensible to spend all your money on yourself and your family, rather than to help those in greater need—even though helping others is likely to bring more fulfillment in the long run.”

“If we think that democracy is a good thing, then we must believe that the public should know as much as possible about what the government it elects is doing. Snowden has said that he made the disclosures because “the public needs to decide whether these programs and policies are right or wrong.”

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