Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Ethics in the Real World: 82 Brief Essays on Things That Matter” as Want to Read:
Ethics in the Real World: 82 Brief Essays on Things That Matter
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

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

3.94  ·  Rating details ·  1,551 ratings  ·  184 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
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Ethics in the Real World, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
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)

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
3.94  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,551 ratings  ·  184 reviews

Sort order
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 about and discussing things that m
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
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.
Malcolm Everett

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
Corey Wozniak
Apr 11, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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.
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
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
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
Oct 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I agree
Bradley Eylander
Due to small length of each essay Singer is forced to state a ethical issue and give HIS solution and opinion. It's missing the well thought reasoning behind his opinion and why the contrary view is incorrect. For example, when he talks about global warming he briefly mentions that people don't view all lives as of equal value, hence why rich societies and people are not doing enough to stop their greenhouse gas effects which affects poor people more than rich ones. Well why should the reader th ...more
Peter Jaimez
Nov 14, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Not a a philosopher a Parrot!

Putting aside the merits, or lack of them, of the arguments is very sad when you only find those ideas that a) make the author feel superior to the rest on mankind, b) Help insure his status and material well being.

Of course thinking about the issues would threaten not only his pocket but his vision of himself.

And that is what I desire from a real "lover of wisdom"

A single example: a single old badly tuned car in Caracas puts out more pollution in an hour than a thou
Jul 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: ethics
If you don't like philosophy, read this. Ethics in the real world is philosophy as it was originally meant to be: careful thinking about real world issues and how to address them. No nonsensical word games, just pragmatic, thought provoking essays about issues anybody should be concerned with, without falling back on "well, God done said in this Bronze Age book written by illiterate herdsmen that..."
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
A nice series of ethical tasters. There wasn’t a lot of depth, but I don’t think that was the point.
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.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Selected Essays
  • The Quest for a Moral Compass
  • Parallels and Paradoxes: Explorations in Music and Society
  • The Enlightenment: And Why It Still Matters
  • The Dream of Enlightenment: The Rise of Modern Philosophy
  • The Fun Stuff: And Other Essays
  • Changing the Subject: Essays on the Mediated Self
  • Science Fiction and Philosophy: From Time Travel to Superintelligence
  • Us: Americans Talk about Love
  • On What Matters, Volume One
  • Wittgenstein's Vienna
  • Hood
  • Essays
  • The Adventures of Form and Content: Essays
  • A Bed for the Night: Humanitarianism in Crisis
  • Love from Boy: Roald Dahl's Letters to His Mother
  • When I Am Playing with My Cat, How Do I Know That She Is Not Playing with Me?: Montaigne and Being in Touch with Life
  • Anger and Forgiveness: Resentment, Generosity, Justice
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
“Cutting out meat would do more to help combat climate change than any other action we could feasibly take in the next 20 years.” 4 likes
“Words do have consequences, and what one generation says but does not really believe, the next generation may believe, and even act upon.” 3 likes
More quotes…