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Ethics in the Real World: 82 Brief Essays on Things That Matter

3.92  ·  Rating details ·  1,164 Ratings  ·  136 Reviews
Peter Singer is often described as the world's most influential philosopher. He is also one of its most controversial. The author of important books such as "Animal Liberation," "Practical Ethics," "Rethinking Life and Death," and "The Life You Can Save," he helped launch the animal rights and effective altruism movements and contributed to the development of bioethics. No ...more
Hardcover, 376 pages
Published September 20th 2016 by Princeton University Press
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Mitchell Barrington I wondered the same thing. I own both books, the 82 was from the US and the 86 from Australia; I'm unsure why the American version has fewer essays.…moreI wondered the same thing. I own both books, the 82 was from the US and the 86 from Australia; I'm unsure why the American version has fewer essays. The missing essays themselves aren't amazing or overly controversial.(less)

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Kevin Kelsey
Jan 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Anyone with a few extra minutes here and there
Posted at Heradas Review

A wonderful collection of short essays, aimed toward every day people. Each designed to introduce some difficult ethical questions to those that may have never been forced to confront them in their day-to-day lives.

The only failure of this book is, in retrospect, actually a success, it being inherent to the function of what the book set out to achieve; the essays are too brief, and as a result, often too black and white. The author, a utilitarian, undoubtedly understood t
Tso William
The book consists of short essays from one of the most eminent philosophers of our age. The book title Ethics in the Real World is a little misleading because there are in fact essays on a range of topics: from Godless morality to New Year's resolution. As each essay is only a few pages and written in clear and understandable prose, it gives good introductions on major topics.

The problem, however, is that sometimes the essays are so short that it gives no justice to Singer's thought. I have rea
Larry Bassett
I have come to respect Peter singer in recent years because of his contributions to the field of effective altruism, doing the most good possible with your financial contributions to charities. I decided to read this book because it was by Peter Singer. I was somewhat disappointed but I think that was more because I felt somewhat overwhelmed by one short op ad piece after another. I wasn't especially interested in all of the topics and didn't feel that Peter added a great deal to my thinking abo ...more
Liam Bai
Jun 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A collection of thought-provoking essays on ethical issues that should concern every single one of us.

How can philosophy and ethics be valuable if they only raise questions that cannot be definitively answered? This thought always steered me away from philosophy – why are you sitting here thinking about these empty ideas when, instead, you can use this time to do something useful? I found an answer in this book: just like inventing new technologies, by thinking more about things that matter, we
DNF at 68% - some of its arguments were engaging and thought-provoking (especially the ones on medical care), but for the most part I didn't really care for these essays. A lot of them felt obvious, and maybe that's because of the constraints of Singer's format. Personally, I thought the brevity of the essays robbed them of potential for nuance, and made them feel quite underwhelming at times. That being said, I'm deciding to DNF this because it simply isn't holding my attention right now. I'd r ...more
Arnaud Vigouroux
Excellent book that raises a lot of important questions that we are often uncomfortable to ask ourselves.
Text Publishing
‘Peter Singer’s status as a man of principles and towering intellect—a philosopher extraordinaire, if you will—is unrivalled in Australia.’
Sydney Morning Herald

‘Peter Singer is a public intellectual par excellence.’

‘Peter Singer may be the most controversial philosopher alive; he is certainly among the most influential.’
New Yorker

‘Lucidly conceived and written, the brief essays in Ethics in the Real World attest to Singer’s enduring facility for wise, clear-headed enquiry into some of the
Dec 21, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I agree with Singer that the op-ed provides a great medium for scholars to advance their thoughts because it forces them to make their language less complicated and their thoughts more succinct. Having said that, there was no real coherency to this book--no connecting tissue from one thought to the other. It didn't even seem like there was any order at all to the random essays. Having said that each essay was really thought-provoking and it was great to have them all in one place and read Singer ...more
Malcolm Everett
May 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed, audiobooks

Australian philosopher and Stanford professor Peter Singer provides bite-sized food for thought in this collection of mini essays on various ethical issues, which was written with a general audience in mind. The essays are organized according to topic, covering everything from animal rights and euthanasia to charitable giving and politics.

As a teenager, these types of ethical questions were ones that I devoured endlessly. I lurked on online forums to discover different viewpoints and delighted
Feb 12, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Jake and I listened to a couple essays in the car on a road trip which started some really good conversations. I want to discuss all 86 essays with someone on a road trip. That would be awesome.
Teo 2050
4.5h @ 2x. Contents:
(view spoiler)
Peter Singer is a well known and influential Australian bioethicist who teaches at Princeton. This book presents a series of "80 brief essays" on things that matter. So this is a book in which a highly regarded philosopher presents some of his core insights working under a constraint of a 1000 word space constraint. I thought about this for a while before I began. Philosophy is hard to read and takes much time and attention. There is much craft involved in it, although it is often difficult enou ...more
This collection of essays is thought-provoking and at times, controversial. I was inspired to try veganism and dismayed by Singer's lack of appreciation for art and culture, which he consistently values below disease-prevention. Bunched by topic, the essays can be quite repetitive and are not ideal for road-trip listening. The book is better in small doses.
Oct 31, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Too brief, in my opinion - this book is more a clear statement of all Singer's positions than an attempt to defend them. Singer is a concise writer, though, I'm interested in reading his thoughts at a level with more rigor.
Manaal Faruqui
Mar 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
highly recommend for those who would like a quick grasp on different topics that touch ethics in the real world. it's a collection of essays on such topics with every essay being 2-3 pages which makes it easier to digest while not getting bored.
Edward Sullivan
May 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
A great collection of short, accessible essays that are intellectually and morally challenging. Many would be great for small group discussions.
Steven Yenzer
Apr 23, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I can’t think of any topic that I wouldn’t want Singer’s thoughts on. These bite-sized essays are a great way to digest them.
A nice series of ethical tasters. There wasn’t a lot of depth, but I don’t think that was the point.
Ethics in the Real World is a collection of Singer's writings on a wide range of topics, ranging from vegetarianism and charitable giving to parenting and artificial lifeforms. The essays can be interesting and thought provoking. However, if one is at all knowledgeable about the subject matter, the author's views routinely come across as shockingly naive. He also writes as if his subjective value judgments were universal truths; they are not.
Mar 31, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: philosophy
This book will make you think about every single thing you do. It will also make you want to be a better person. This book will also make you want to be a deeper better thinker. Professor Singer does these things effortlessly in easy language George Orwell would approve of. He does it with humility, sincerity and brio. Everyone should have this on their bed side table ready to be absorbed nightly.
Abhishek Kona
May 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is a series of essays from Peter singers newspaper columns. The essays introduce the reader to various ethical issues today and how the author reasons or thinks about them. It is an opinionated book. The book does not provide some sort of decision framework, it treats each issue case by case.

This book was mind opening. The criticism I have it some essays are too simple, may be the author wanted to make it accessible to the casual newspaper reader.
Corey Landon Wozniak
This would make a great 'textbook' for a Philosophy & Ethics course at the high school level. I'd really like to teach such a class someday. The breadth is fantastic: "climate change, extreme poverty, animals, abortion, euthanasia, human genetic selection, sports doping, the sale of kidneys, the ethics of high-priced art, and ways of increasing happiness... whether chimpanzees are people, smoking should be outlawed, or consensual sex between adult siblings should be decriminalised" and more. ...more
Australian Peter Singer is one of my favourite philosophers because he writes about everyday issues that thoughtful citizens need to think about clearly. I’ve reviewed a couple of his books about philanthropy (The Most Good You Can Do, and The Life You Can Save) but this latest title Ethics in the Real World is different because it ranges widely over a variety of topics and as the sub-title says, it’s 86 Brief Essays on Things That Matter. The 82 essays are short pieces of less than 1000 words w ...more
Ahsan Sharafuddin
Nov 09, 2016 rated it really liked it
Written by author Peter Singer, an Australian philosopher who taught at Princeton University for many years, the book is a compilation of 80+ short essays on, or related to, Ethics.

In my view Ethics is one of the most interesting aspect of Philosophy. Personally, being a non-believer, my sense of morality largely derives from the study of Ethics.

The essays are easy to follow and most, if not all, essays are interesting to read and allow one to think. However, I was expecting more examples of tho
Nov 06, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Since I've been reading so many things citing Peter Singer, I decided it was time to start reading things by him. I've put it off for too long. I have a strong feeling that I'm not going to leave this experiment without having to confront and seriously modify some of my thinking. But, then, that's often the point, isn't it?

Your mileage with these essays will no doubt very considerably, depending on your starting point and your baggage. For me, I found some of them singing to my choir, a couple s
John Fredrickson
Mar 08, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ethics, philosophy, essays
In this book, Singer explores a myriad of subjects from the standpoint of ethical considerations. Often this takes unexpected turns, as when he explores our predilection for eating meat and its impact on climate change issues. Each essay is extremely short, and is quickly read, but they touch on subjects that are quite diverse.
Cian Breen
Dec 14, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Peter Singer is a joy to read. His utilitarian views are highly rational and enlightening. The essays contained in this book are indeed brief but they cover a wide range of important topics. This is an excellent introduction to Singer's work.
Jun 25, 2017 rated it really liked it
Bite-sized philosophy morsels. Each essay is just a page or two long, enough to give you something to chew on without bogging down. A pleasant book to dip in and out of.
Mar 12, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: philosophy, essays
This book can be summarised in three words: arithmetic of happiness. There is something crass about the metrification of subjective experience. In most cases, I can get behind ataraxia - the minimisation of suffering - but on the whole, I doubt the meaning of human existence is to be found in the rolling tears of a dopamine IV drip or the bitter aftertaste of molly.

It seems to me that seeking only to optimise a value function wherein happiness is equated with the instantaneous state of one's bi
Matthew Kramer
Dec 19, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Dr. Singer is an instructor in bioethics at Princeton, which explains his relentlessly liberal viewpoint and thinly veiled contempt for religion, conservatives and basically everyone who does not agree with him. For an individual who supposedly has spent a lifetime developing the field of Bioethics, many of his arguments (they are in fact arguments, in support of his own opinions, not even-handed treatments of difficult questions) lack even a pretense of logical progression. As a physician who h ...more
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Peter Albert David Singer is an Australian philosopher. He is the Ira W. DeCamp Professor of Bioethics at Princeton University, and laureate professor at the Centre for Applied Philosophy and Public Ethics (CAPPE), University of Melbourne. He specializes in applied ethics, approaching ethical issues from a secular preference utilitarian perspective.

He has served, on two occasions, as chair of phil
More about Peter Singer

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“Cutting out meat would do more to help combat climate change than any other action we could feasibly take in the next 20 years.” 3 likes
“For nomadic societies, there was no point in owning anything that one could not carry, but once humans settled down and developed a system of money, that limit to acquisition disappeared.” 3 likes
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