The Life You Can Save in 3 Minutes, by Peter Singer

A practitioner of applied ethics, Peter Singer helped launch the animal rights movement during the 1970s, then later took a controversial stance on euthanasia. These days, the Princeton philosopher is working on less contentious issues. His 2009 book is called The Life You Can Save: Acting Now to End World Poverty, and the core argument gets nicely distilled by the three minute video above. Along the way, Singer raises some basic but essential questions about how much we value human lives, both emotionally and economically. Is it worth a pair of shoes to save the life of a child? Many would say unequivocally yes if asked the question. But every day we make choices to the contrary.  And that's what Singer wants to undo. Watch the video. Read the short book. And visit Singer's web site (thelifeyoucansave.com) and finally find out where you can make a donation that will save a young life today.

Note: You can listen to a 2009 interview with Singer where he talks about how small sacrifices can make big differences, and why we should make them (Download the MP3 here).


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  • Hanoch says:

    As far as I am concerned, a person who claims that a newborn does not qualify as a person forfeits his right to give ethical advice.

  • Robin says:

    That is a great little video. Thanks.

  • Evan Plaice says:

    Why is it such a common view that pumping money into distant third-world countries is going to magically solve their poverty issues. It’s the equivalent to a doctor giving a patient a shot of morphine to ‘cure’ a broken leg.

    I could understand giving a donation to help those in need during a crisis. But when the general condition of a state is crisis and decades of injecting donations have done little or nothing to help, maybe that’s not the answer.

    Advertisements like these make me sad because I know that only a fraction of the funds earned will go to help those who really need it.

    One weekend when I was still a teenager, I agreed to to ring the Salvation Army bell for 15 bucks an hour and I’ve never felt more ashamed in my life. I would have much rather done it for free if asked.

    What’s wrong with people who think it’s acceptable to ride the backs of the poor/needy for personal income/profit?

    Want to help third world countries? Produce a technology that’s cheap and easy enough for them to implement themselves. Like placing plastic bottles of water on a black roof under the sun to purify the water and kill harmful microbes.

    See:
    http://www.ehow.com/how_6371825_purify-water-using-natural-resources.html

    and…
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/4786216.stm

    Now, that’s making a real difference. Not faceless propaganda like this advert.

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