Peter Singer

Beyond the traditional family

MELBOURNE/WARSAW – Last month, Pope Francis traveled to Abu Dhabi, where he met Ahmed el-Tayeb, the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar (Al-Azhar University is the leading Sunni institution for the study of Islamic law). The two religious leaders signed a “Document on Human Fraternity for World...

Wednesday, March 6, 2019, 12:00 AM

Dirty money and tainted philanthropy

MELBOURNE – In 2017, life expectancy in the United States fell for the third successive year. The decline is occurring because an increase in the death rate for middle-aged whites is offsetting lower mortality for children and the elderly. So, why are more middle-aged American whites dying?...

Friday, February 8, 2019, 12:23 AM

Choosing the best students

PRINCETON – In different countries and for different reasons, university admissions policies are under attack. In a Boston courtroom on October 15, a judge will begin hearing a lawsuit claiming that Harvard’s admission process discriminates against Asian-Americans. In the United Kingdom...

Wednesday, October 10, 2018, 10:32 PM

Is charity for the poor futile?

MELBOURNE – In an essay published last month in The Guardian, 15 leading economists – including the Nobel laureates Angus Deaton, James Heckman, and Joseph Stiglitz – criticised what they call “the ‘aid effectiveness’ craze” on the grounds that it leads us...

Friday, August 3, 2018, 11:22 PM

The migration dilemma

The most heart-rending media story of the past month featured children crying after being separated from their parents at the border between the United States and Mexico. US President Donald Trump, after initially defending the separations, yielded to public pressure and signed an executive...

Sunday, July 8, 2018, 12:01 AM

Prisoners of pain

Whereas the quantity of available opioids in the United States is more than three times what patients in need of palliative care require, in India, the supply is just 4% of the required quantity, and just 0.2% in Nigeria. The reason is a misplaced fear that clinical use of opioids will fuel...

Friday, January 12, 2018, 12:00 AM

The man who didn’t save the world

PRINCETON – Last month, “Salvator Mundi,” Leonardo da Vinci’s portrayal of Jesus as Savior of the World, sold at auction for $400 million, more than twice the previous record for a work of art sold at auction. The buyer also had to pay an additional $50.3 million in...

Friday, December 15, 2017, 12:00 AM

Is the Paris Accord unfair to America?

PRINCETON – When President Donald Trump announced that the US was withdrawing from the Paris climate agreement, he justified the move by saying “the bottom line is that the Paris Accord is very unfair, at the highest level, to the United States.” Is it? To assess Trump...

Wednesday, June 7, 2017, 12:00 AM

Should children have the right to die?

PRINCETON – Since 2002, Belgium has permitted terminally or incurably ill adults to request and receive euthanasia from a doctor. In February 2014, the Belgian parliament removed the provision of the country’s law on euthanasia that restricted the law’s use to adults. That led to...

Saturday, October 8, 2016, 12:00 AM

Direct democracy and Brexit

PRINCETON – What role should referenda play in a democracy? That question has become more relevant than ever, following the United Kingdom’s “Brexit” referendum, which resulted in a 52% to 48% vote to leave the European Union – and brought an abrupt end to British...

Friday, July 8, 2016, 12:00 AM

Should the world go to Rio?

Peter Singer PRINCETON – When Rio de Janeiro was awarded the 2016 Olympic Games, the Zika virus had yet to reach Brazil. Now, after billions of dollars have been invested in preparing for the Games, Rio de Janeiro state has the second highest number of suspected Zika virus infections. Should...

Tuesday, June 7, 2016, 12:00 AM

Are insects conscious?

Peter Singer MELBOURNE – Last summer, a cabbage white butterfly laid its eggs on an arugula I was growing. Before long, the plant was swarming with green caterpillars, well disguised against the green leaves. I had other arugula plants, some distance away, that would give me plenty of leaves...

Friday, May 13, 2016, 12:00 AM

Should we honor racists?

PRINCETON – In the midst of my Practical Ethics class last month, several students stood up and walked out. They were joining hundreds of others in a protest led by the Black Justice League (BJL), one of many student groups that have emerged across the United States in response to the fatal...

Saturday, December 12, 2015, 12:00 AM

Paris and the fate of the earth

PRINCETON – The lives of billions of people, for centuries to come, will be at stake when world leaders and government negotiators meet at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris at the end of the month. The fate of an unknown number of endangered species of plants and animals...

Tuesday, November 17, 2015, 12:00 AM

Escaping the refugee crisis

PRINCETON – In July, the number of migrants reaching the borders of the European Union passed 100,000 – the third consecutive month in which a new record was set. In one week in August, 21,000 migrants arrived in Greece. Tourists complained that the summer holiday they had planned on a...

Wednesday, September 2, 2015, 12:00 AM

Understanding effective altruism

Peter Singer PRINCETON – Can humans really be motivated by altruism? My new book, The Most Good You Can Do, discusses the emerging new movement called Effective Altruism, and, in doing interviews about the book, I am surprised by how often that question is asked. Why should we doubt that some...

Wednesday, April 22, 2015, 12:00 AM

The ransom dilemma

Peter Singer Princeton – Anyone who does not share the ideology of the so-called “Islamic State” in Iraq and Syria is likely to agree that it is wrong for the group’s adherents to behead some of those they have held hostage. Much more controversial, however, are the secret decisions by...

Saturday, December 20, 2014, 12:00 AM

The ethics of fighting Ebola

Peter Singer Princeton – It may, in the end, turn out to be fortunate that a handful of people in developed countries – four in the United States and one in Spain – have contracted Ebola. Tragic as this was for Thomas Duncan, the only one of these patients who has died, if all of the more than...

Friday, November 14, 2014, 12:00 AM

Should adult sibling incest be a crime?

PRINCETON – Last month, the German Ethics Council, a statutory body that reports to the Bundestag, recommended that sexual intercourse between adult siblings should cease to be a crime. The recommendation follows a 2012 decision by the European Court of Human Rights upholding the conviction...

Friday, October 24, 2014, 12:00 AM

Choosing death over suffering

Peter Singer Princeton – “I will take my life today around noon. It is time.” With these words, posted online, Gillian Bennett, an 85-year-old New Zealander living in Canada, began her explanation of her decision to end her life. Bennett had known for three years that she was suffering...

Thursday, September 11, 2014, 12:00 AM