Peter Singer Ethics Talk

Oh, you again!!!!!!!!!!!!

Anyway —

Last night, I went to Peter Singer On What Really Matters, presented by The School of Life. I’ve always been interested in ethics but I’ve been kinda overwhelmed/unexcited about the prospect of seriously learning more about ethics and philosophies, ethicists and philosophers. But the time has come, the walrus said, to go to an ethics event. (Come on, dude. Just go. It’s only 2 hours. How boring could it be!)

And —

It was such a good night. It wasn’t boring at all. That probably sounds incredibly naive and ill-informed to some people who know the basics (or more!) about ethics/philosophies/Peter Singer, but I just didn’t know what to expect. I hadn’t seen his TED talk, etc.

The host introduced Peter Singer and the event format: 7 topics, 10 minutes each, with a countdown clock on the stage. Singer, in turn, introduced each of the topics by asking a question – an ethical conundrum – to get the audience thinking. Then for the remainder of the 10 minutes, audience members could ask further questions, or share comments and opinions, by nabbing one of the roving microphones. Singer then responded to the audience’s thoughts.

Topics included Justice, Rights, Freedom, and The Survival of Intelligent Life on Earth.

I was concerned that my personal philosophies/ethics would clash with Singer’s and I’d find the event somewhat difficult to experience, because I’d read he was a utilitarian philosopher and I’d had to Google what that meant, and from Wikipedia, I had the wrong idea about it. Fortunately, in his opening statements, Singer addressed this common misunderstanding! – and I saw we were more on the same page than I’d originally thought.

He talked about/promoted opinions and calls-to-action that I feel strongly about – like Effective Altruism; and how it’s reprehensible for us to stand by and do nothing while people are living in (and dying from) extreme poverty; and how it’s incredibly important to do something (donate) about extreme poverty, even though:
a) climate change could soon mess up the world, and
b) if you save the lives of those (mostly children) who would have died from extreme poverty, then you are also likely sentencing them to a life of great poverty and hardship.

He also talked about The Life You Can Save (his website that helps you choose how to effectively donate), and 80,000 Hours (encouraging/helping people to choose better careers), which I hadn’t heard of.

I really appreciated the event, the audience, and The School of Life for putting it on (and for existing – I’ve enjoyed several TSOL events now). I’m adding Peter Singer’s books to my Kindle. Maybe I’ll get.a little better informed after all this time.


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