|Enewsletter • April 1, 2001|
It Keeps Going, and Going, and Going...
Even the most rational among us are often swayed by our own prejudices and derive some part of our moral views from our personal intuitions about the world. Professor Peter Singer has often incited controversy because he suggests that we should derive our moral views not from our intuitions, but from logic. The strength of Singer's philosophy likewise rests on its foundation of explicitly-stated first-principles, from which our moral views about both humans and non-humans can be logically derived. This method has proved extremely powerful, because Singer's first-principles are ones that few dismiss: suffering is bad, happiness is good (see "Practical Ethics," Second Edition). Of course, it has also regularly embroiled him in controversy, as his arguments stand counter to some widely-held beliefs and prejudices.
Regardless of our personal feelings about Singer's conclusions, Singer has certainly succeeded in advancing the philosophical debate about a great number of issues. And in a way, the burden rests with us to either find the flaws in his logic that warrant rejection, or to find that his logic is correct and our intuitions are mistaken. It is with this in mind that we include the articles below. Perhaps the best introduction to and overview of Singer's philosophy is his recently published, "Writing on an Ethical Life." For those who have read quotes pulled from Singer in isolation and out-of-context, this book is a welcome remedy.