Peter Singer Quotes
All the arguments to prove man’s superiority cannot shatter this hard fact: in suffering the animals are our equals.
An animal experiment cannot be justifiable unless the experiment is so important that the use of a brain-damaged human would be justifiable.
Ancient recipients of instant news probably couldn’t do very much about it, for instance. Xerxes would still need three months to get his army together, and he might not get home for years.
As we realise that more and more things have global impact, I think we’re going to get people increasingly wanting to get away from a purely national interest.
At the descriptive level, certainly, you would expect different cultures to develop different sorts of ethics and obviously they have; that doesn’t mean that you can’t think of overarching ethical principles you would want people to follow in all kinds of places.
Bush doesn’t present himself as a realpolitik politician.
Bush is morally a universalist. For instance, he says the freedom is good, the same thing is good, all over the world. So in that sense he’s a universalist.
Bush sees the evil as out there in the wider world, residing in people who ‘hate freedom’. Look at his immediate response to the pictures of prisoner abuse; this is not what Americans do, these are not our values.
Had Rumsfeld said at any time ‘get me a report on what’s going on’, he could have had it. You’re right, it depends on choices that we make, which parts of the world we want to be in immediate contact with.
I believe that nationalism is a very strong force, but there are other forces operating; there are tendencies pushing towards a larger picture, especially in Europe, I think; but I still think nationalism is real.
I don’t think nationalism is alone holding the field; it’s in contention with a lot of different things.
I don’t think there’s anything in the compromise that means that there’s a clash of ethics.
I don’t think there’s much point in bemoaning the state of the world unless there’s some way you can think of to improve it. Otherwise, don’t bother writing a book; go and find a tropical island and lie in the sun.
I suppose what’s happened recently has confirmed suspicions I voiced in the book, and I think made clearer some of those things that I point out. For instance I have a section of the book where I talk about the possibility of torture.
I think ethics is always there; it’s not always a very thoughtful or reflective ethics.
I would just like to get him to think about these things; whether what’s happening in Iraq is promoting the culture of life. The worry is that he is so certain that he know where he’s going to lead the country.
I would like us to think about it more explicitly, and not take our intuitions as the given of ethics, but rather to reflect on it, and be more open about the fact that something is an ethical issues and thin what we ought to do about it.
I’m a Utilitarian, so I don’t see the rule against lying as absolute; it’s always subject to some overriding utility which may prevent its exercise.
I’m not overly alarmist about it, but I do think there are some worrying signs, like the growing accumulation of wealth by a very small proportion of the population, plus elections in the US are much more dominated by money than anywhere else calling itself a democracy.
In a situation where many national leaders do the same thing and look out for national interests, and with an issue like global warming, you’re likely to get no solution, so I think you have to have some kind of ethical trump on some of those issues.
In the sense that you’re not at the centre of power, like a president or prime minister of a major power, everyone is marginalised; my position doesn’t isn’t unique in that respect. I think there are different sorts of relevance in different contexts.
It means that, in fact, it’s – whether fascist is the right word I don’t know – more of a plutocracy than anything resembling a democracy; it has become a nation controlled by a very small, very wealthy elite.
It’s also much clearer how much damage the occupation of Iraq is doing to America’s reputation and prestige around the world; and that’s just starting now to hit home in the United States.
More often there’s a compromise between ethics and expediency.
My work is based on the assumption that clarity and consistency in our moral thinking is likely, in the long run, to lead us to hold better views on ethical issues.
The idea that we can actually have an impact on places more or less instantly, too, by responding in some way or not responding, I think, also makes it true.
The notion that human life is sacred just because it is human life is medieval.
The Pentagon said that these prisoners were kept in accordance with the Geneva Convention, and of course I was not reassured by that, but I couldn’t prove that that was wrong; so we’re clearer about that.
Then I think the sense of it being one community breaks down; but if you know instantly and respond within twenty-four hours, it’s a very different sort of situation.
They tend to be pretty abstract ones then, like doing what will have the best consequences; obviously you wouldn’t specify what consequences are best, they may be different in some circumstances, so at a lower, more specific level, you may well get differences.
We see things like reciprocity which are fairly central to our view of ethics. But if you’re talking about a set of worked-out rules on what we are supposed to do then, yes, it is a human product.
What you could say, and what I do argue in the book, is that he doesn’t have as much concern for the lives of Iraqis as he does for the lives of Americans, or even frozen American embryos.
You might hold an ethical position that it’s wrong to lie, but if you have plans for a war in Iraq, and you want to keep them secret for practical reasons – to reduce casualties, perhaps – and someone asks you about those plans, you may need to lie for a ‘good’ outcome.