Tag Archives: Peter Singer

Effective Altruism and Disability Rights are Incompatible

Earlier this month, members of the University of Victoria Effective Altruism Club were surprised to find themselves a target of protest as they hosted a talk from celebrity philosophy professor Peter Singer. After all, Singer is known worldwide for his views on animal rights and charitable giving. He was lecturing on the effective altruist movement, his effort to make charitable giving more effective by measuring impact and encouraging donors to shift their contributions to specific interventions in the developing world believed to have the lowest cost per life saved. And yet, for much of his career, Singer has been known for another reason: As the philosopher making the case for legalizing the murder of disabled infants. Throughout his career, Singer has been a critic of laws designed to protect disabled people. In his 1979 book, Practical Ethics, he made the case for allowing parents to kill children with spina bifida and … Continue Reading ››

In Defense of Effective Altruism

When I saw the recent protests by disability rights advocates of Peter Singer’s talk at an effective altruism club, I cringed. I support disability rights because I am a disabled person and I do, in fact, have a sense of self-interest. I support effective altruism because I was aware of all the suffering there was in the world and I felt powerless to actually do anything about it. Through evidence and reason, effective altruists try to figure out how ordinary people can best improve the world. We ask questions like “if you want people in the developing world to be better off economically, is it better to pay for deworming treatments because children without worms grow up to earn more money, or just to give them cash?” And “if you’re trying to do good, is it better to get a high-earning job so you can donate lots of … Continue Reading ››