Monday, March 18, 2013

Peter Singer strikes again!

Peter Singer is definitely among my top 5 living philosophers, though I have not actually read a whole book of his.  Many of his views on ethics are pretty similar to, and have shaped some of, my own.  In fact, an article of his that I read in one of my philosophy classes a few years ago planted the seed that (in combination with a few other things) led to me converting to a fully vegetarian diet a couple of months ago (after a couple of years of part-timing it).

Now he's going on about charitable donations, and I feel compelled to pledge 1% of my income toward a worthwhile cause (a few of which he kindly points us toward).  I could attempt to give an explanation of why I think this is a good idea, but it's probably better just to watch the man himself talk about it (be warned that this video is ONE HOUR long, though you could probably get the gist of it within the first 15 minutes or so): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MewmfYq4Wrw.

Despite my current advocacy of this idea (and impending pledge to contribute myself), I wouldn't say that I don't have concerns about actually seeing this through.  I think that Singer makes a solid argument for why anti-poverty programs are far more cost-effective than some of the charitable work being done domestically (though this should not be interpreted as me dismissing domestic charities as unworthy).  Still, I question whether "saving lives" without a systematic societal change simply prolongs the conditions that enable perpetual poverty and strife in some of these places.  I'll end the discussion there to avoid stating this concern as harshly as I have sometimes in the past.  For now I'll just concede and settle for saving lives.

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