What can a philosopher-reviewer say about a book comprised of 82 provocative essays written by one of the most influential philosophers of our time? Peter Singer is internationally recognized as a seminal philosopher on utilitarian moral theory, the ethics of life and death, globalization, world hunger, animal rights and environmental ethics. In recent years, he’s become a “public philosopher,” whose crystal-clear writings reveal a deep appreciation of what is important in life.. Almost all of these essays of less than 1000 words were previously published, worldwide, via Project Syndicate in many different newspapers and magazines. No references, footnotes, or bibliography. Most of these essays are readily available via the Internet; including on his own homepages. Critics may argue that a book comprised of 82 previously-published short essays by the same author is a waste of paper; which might be true of most authors. But Singer is a prolific popular writer who has published, worldwide, on a wide variety of philosophically important and timely issues. For better or worse, these attributes have made Singer both controversial and influential. These essays address many issues well beyond his normal range of commentary. In sum, this book not only provides a broad-based introduction to Peter Singer’s moral philosophy, but it will also serve as an excellent textbook for any applied ethics course. For us philosophers, it provides a model for how to transition from the ivory tower to the domain of public philosophy.
Reviewed by: Ronald F. White, Ph.D.
Professor of Philosophy
Mount St. Joseph University