“Peter Singer: Ordinary People Are Evil” – Jeffrey KAPLAN

All ethics represent a danger for goodness; only negligence rescues it. Having chosen the phlegm of the imbecile and the apathy of the angel, I have excluded myself from actions and, since goodness is incompatible with life, I have decomposed myself in order to be good.”

CIORAN, A Short History of Decay

This is a lecture about an argument for the following claim: giving money to charity to not merely a good thing to do, but is morally obligatory. According to Peter Singer, who wrote a controversial paper in 1972, titled “Famine, Affluence, and Morality”, spending money on luxuries is not just morally bad, it is downright evil.

Many parts of this lecture draw heavily on a lecture on this topic that my teacher, Niko Kolodny, used to give (and perhaps still gives) as part of an undergraduate course at UC Berkeley. ~ Jeffrey Kaplan

Peter Albert David Singer AC (born 6 July 1946) is an Australian moral philosopher and the Ira W. DeCamp Professor of Bioethics at Princeton University. He specialises in applied ethics, approaching the subject from a secular, utilitarian perspective. He wrote the book Animal Liberation (1975), in which he argues for veganism, and the essay “Famine, Affluence, and Morality”, which favours donating to help the global poor. For most of his career, he was a preference utilitarian, but he revealed in The Point of View of the Universe (2014), coauthored with Katarzyna de Lazari-Radek, that he had become a hedonistic utilitarian.

With the exception of some aberrant cases, man does not incline to the good: what god would impel him to do so? Man must vanquish himself, must do himself violence, in order to perform the slightest action untainted by evil. And each time he succeeds, he provokes or humiliates his Creator. If he manages to be good—no longer by effort or calculation, but by nature—he owes his achievement to an inadvertence from on high: he situates himself outside the universal order; he was foreseen by no divine plan. It is difficult to say what station the good man occupies among what we call beings, even if he is one. Perhaps he is a ghost?

CIORAN, Le mauvais démiurge