Peter Singer

Peter Singer Picture

Peter Singer, is a renowned Australian philosopher, whose groundbreaking contributions to the discipline of moral philosophy have paved the way for the revolutionary formation of applied ethical behavior. His work has raised criticism over controversial issues such as violation of animal rights, human-animal intercourse, justifying killing of handicapped infants, abortions etc. Singer’s work has given an intellectual and philosophical nudge to the masses through his radical thinking, and has caused a social fervor and devout seriousness.

Peter was born as Peter Albert David Singer to a Jewish family on July 6, 1946, in Melbourne Australia. His parents were Viennese Jewish immigrants, who had been subjected to the turbulent upheavals and horrors of the war, they themselves had barely escaped the concentration camps and managed to seek refuge in Australia. Peter’s father was an exporter of tea, while his mother was a doctor. For his early education, Peter was enrolled in Preshil School, and later he attended the Scotch College for his secondary education. In 1946, he received his Bachelor’s degree in Law, History and Philosophy from the University of Melbourne, and in 1969, he received his Master’s degree from the same university. Upon receiving a scholarship, he enrolled himself in a Doctorate program at the University of Oxford, he received his Ph.D. in 1971. His doctoral thesis was published as a book in 1973, titled “Democracy and Disobedience”.

In 1971, Singer published his first article, titled “Famine, Affluence and Morality”, where he put forward his ideas on the reasons for making charities to prevent deaths from starvations, and he also discussed several methods explaining how these charities should be made. In 1975, he published his widely praised and much discussed book, titled “Animal Liberation”, which dealt with animal welfare, and introduced Singer’s concept of “Speciesism”, where humans beings, in the modern culture, are said to categorize animals. His book also supported the ideas of veganism and vegetarianism. The same year, he accepted the position of a Radcliffe lecturer at University College, Oxford, along with his position of an active visiting faculty at the New York University. In 1976, he decided to return to his native city, Melbourne, and concentrate on his career as an author. For the next five years, Singer concentrated his energies on composing his literary works, in 1976, he published his remarkable work on animal rights, titled ‘Animal Rights and Human Obligations: An Anthology’. Over the course of the next 5 years, he published 3 more widely acclaimed books, titled  ‘Practical Ethics’ (1979 , ‘Marx: A Very Short Introduction’ (1980), ‘Animal Factories’ (1980), and ‘The Expanding Circle: Ethics and Sociobiology’ (1981).

In 1977, he was appointed the Chair of Philosophy at the Monash University, where later, he was also appointed the first director of the Center for Human Bioethics. During his tenure at the University, Peter Singer founded the International Association of Bioethics. During 1982-1985, Singer published four more books, titled: ‘Hegel’ (1982), ‘Test-Tube Babies: a guide to moral questions, present techniques and future possibilities’ (1982), ‘The Reproduction Revolution: New Ways of Making Babies’ (1985) and ‘Should the Baby Live? The Problem of Handicapped Infants’.

During the 80s and the early 90s, Singer devoted his time to composing his revolutionary and radical thoughts into remarkable literary works, which garnered worldwide appreciation and millions of devout fans who began devouring his works. Some of the notable works published by him during this period include, : ‘Ethical and Legal Issues in Guardianship Options for Intellectually Disadvantaged People’ (1986), ‘Animal Liberation: A Graphic Guide’ (1987), ‘A Companion to Ethics’ (1991), ‘Save the Animals!’ (1991), ‘Embryo Experimentation’ (1993), ‘The Great Ape Project: Equality Beyond Humanity’ (1995), How Are We to Live? : Ethics in an Age of Self-Interest’ (1993), Rethinking Life and Death: The Collapse of Our Traditional Ethics’, ‘The Greens’, and ‘The Allocation of Health Care Resources’.

In 1999, Singer was appointed the Professor of Bioethics at the University Center for Human Value at Princeton University. However, due to the controversies generated in America regarding his radical ideas on bioethical issues, his employment required justification. Singer has been the recipient of several awards and accolades befitting his valuable and effective work. In 2004, he was presented the title of ‘Australian Humanist of the year’ by the Council of Australian Humanists.  In 2009, Time magazine included Peter Singer’s name in its list of “The 100 Most Influential People in the World”. More recently, in 2012, he was named a Companion of the Order of Australia in light of his remarkable contributions to the field of philosophy and bioethics. Currently, he serves on the Advisory Board of Incentives for Global Health, an NGO dedicated to the development of the Health Impact Fund Proposal, along with, the advisory board of Academics Stand Against Poverty (ASAP).


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