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Global Poverty: What are our obligations?

GRIPh Lecture on 1 June 2011 by Peter Singer
06 May 2011

GRIPh Lecture by Peter Singer (Princeton University)
Organized by the Faculty of Philosophy in cooperation with Studium Generale Groningen

Details (when, where etc) below

More than a billion people live in extreme poverty, often unable to meet their basic needs, while about a billion live in affluence, able to spend money on things that they do not need. In this situation, do the affluent have any obligations to the poor?

The renowned philosopher Peter Singer argues that we do, and that these obligations are much more demanding than we commonly think. The situation that some people are living in abundance while others starve is morally indefensible: if we can prevent something bad without sacrificing anything of comparable significance, we ought to do it.

Surely, there is a variety of objections, and end by considering how we should respond to the conclusion that most affluent people are failing to meet their ethical obligations.

Peter Singer (Melbourne 1946) is one of most important ethicists in our time. He is the Ira W. DeCamp Professor of Bioethics at the University Centre for Human Values, Princeton University. His works on global poverty and the moral status of animals have had a huge impact inside and outside the humanities.

He has also written extensively in the history of philosophy, meta-ethics, and political philosophy. His books (translated into 20 languages) include: Animal Liberation (1975); Democracy and Disobedience (1973); Practical Ethics (1979); Marx (1980); Hegel (1982); How Are We to Live?(1993); Rethinking Life and Death (1994); One World: the Ethics of Globalisation (2002) and The Life You Can Save: Acting Now To End World Poverty (2009).

Peter Singer was educated at the University of Melbourne and the University of Oxford. He has taught at the University of Oxford, La Trobe University and Monash University, and has held several other visiting appointments. Since 1999 he has been Ira W. DeCamp Professor of Bioethics in the University Center for Human Values at Princeton University. From 2005 on, he has also held the part-time position of Laureate Professor at the University of Melbourne, in the Centre for Applied Philosophy and Public Ethics.

His works have appeared in more than 30 languages. He is the author of the major article on Ethics in the current edition of the Encylopaedia Britannica. Two collections of his writings have been published: Writings on an Ethical Life, which he edited, and Unsanctifying Human Life, edited by Helga Kuhse. There are also two collections of critical essays about his work, which include his responses: Singer and His Critics, edited by Dale Jamieson, and Peter Singer Under Fire, edited by Jeffrey Schaler. The latter includes a 75 page “Intellectual Autobiography.”

Peter Singer was the founding President of the International Association of Bioethics, and with Helga Kuhse, founding co-editor of the journal Bioethics. Outside academic life, is the co-founder, and President, of The Great Ape Project, an international effort to obtain basic rights for chimpanzees, gorillas and orangutans. He is also President of Animal Rights International.

When? 01-06-2011, 15.15 - 17.00 hrs

Where? Academiegebouw, Broerstraat 5, Groningen, Offerhaus-zaal / Offerhaus room

Last modified:07 June 2016 3.52 p.m.

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