Ethics in the Real World, by Peter Singer

Ethics in the Real World, by Peter Singer

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.

Peter Singer, photo credit: Tony Philips

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.

 

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