December 6, 2021

Peter Singer wins ‘Nobel Prize for philosophy’

Despite its importance, philosophy is not generally regarded as a lucrative profession. Perhaps the Berggruen Prize will change that. It is a US$1 million given every year to a thinker “whose ideas have profoundly shaped human self-understanding and advancement in a rapidly changing world.”

This year it was awarded to the controversial Australian bioethicist Peter Singer for his inspiring work in animal ethics and effective altruism.

In some quarters Singer is often criticised for being a utilitarian – but the judges awarded the prize to him precisely because he is a utilitarian: “The Berggruen Prize Jury selected Singer for his widely influential and intellectually rigorous work in reinvigorating utilitarianism as part of academic philosophy and as a force for change in the world.”

Self-described as a consequentialist, Singer believes that actions should be judged by their predictable outcomes. His practical arguments are based on rigorous utilitarian reasoning, which views the welfare of strangers as being equally important to that of oneself and one’s own family. His elaboration of this philosophical approach has led toward his taking positions on issues ranging from factory farming to the global system that keeps billions in poverty.

Apparently Singer’s views on abortion, infanticide and euthanasia did not take any of the shine off his achievements.

Singer plans to give half the prize money The Life You Can Save, a charity he founded to spread the idea of effective altruism.

The Berggruen Prize was launched in 2016 as a kind of Nobel Prize for philosophy. Previous recipients have been Canadian philosopher Charles Taylor, bioethicist Onora O’Neill, philosopher Martha Nussbaum, US Supreme Court justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and public health advocate Paul Farmer.

(Sorry, we missed this one, which happened in September.)

4 thoughts on “Peter Singer wins ‘Nobel Prize for philosophy’

  1. It is not that “many people” agree and approve his stance. The need is that whether his stance is approve by his creator or not, That is what really matters as it is the absolute standard otherwise billions of minds will have different stances but obviously I consider those prompted by Satan.

  2. He will be heading to hell if he doesn’t change. These are the children of darkness. We need to be alert & speak the Good News of Jesus Christ to the ends of the Earth.

  3. Singer is giving all his prize money away with half going to charities other than The Life You Can Save. And, when it comes to his views on euthanasia (inclusive of “infanticide”) and abortion, increasing numbers of people agree with his stance and recognise him as an insightful moral reformer whose thinking is well ahead of his time. Don’t trust the headlines, Singer does not deserve the title “controversial”. He just wants to make the world a better place impartially considered. That’s a high bar for self-interested members of our species, but it’s worth aiming for.

  4. Our philosophy can quite likely and quite literally make the difference between heaven and hell, or between “problem” and “tragedy”. (It would be better to say between “problem” and “mystery”, according to Gabriel Marcel). Saint Francis of Assisi and Adolf Hitler were not professional philosophers, but both had philosophies, and lived them, and went to heaven or hell according to their philosophies, thankfulness or resentment, goodness or utilitarianism.

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