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 ( 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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Comments (3)
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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.



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

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