33voices interviews Peter Singer, the world’s most influential living philosopher.
The Life You Can Save
What would you do if you knew you could save a life and didn’t? There’s never an easy answer to that question, but if you’re like most of us, you’d probably have a hard time living with yourself. To me, this is as much of a moral issue as it is a philosophical one, and it’s more than likely the reason behind why the great philosopher, Peter Singer, tells you that “if it is in your power to prevent something bad from happening, without sacrificing anything nearly as important, it is wrong not to do so.”
Professor Singer is a brilliant philosophical thinker, but it was his book, The Life You Can Save, that served as a wake up call for me to look beyond our boarders and rethink my approach to philanthropy. Since its original release in 2006, almost 17,000 people have taken Singer’s pledge to a contribute a percentage of their income towards helping those living in extreme poverty; it’s an action he calls effective altruism. During this year’s TED conference, Singer challenged us to think about the meaning behind living an ethical life; To him, ‘it’s never enough just to follow the thou-shalt-nots – lie, cheat or steal – you have to give’ and here’s what happens when you do —