The Corner

Nicholas Kristof Shouldn’t Follow Peter Singer

This weekend has been laud Peter Singer time in the media. Apparently the utilitarian Princeton bioethicist has a book coming telling people how to donate to charity–and the liberals are swooning.

Now, NYT’s pundit, Nicholas Kristof, turns to Singer as a legitimate judge of moral choices in his current column. From, “The Trader Who Donates Half His Pay:”

[Matt] Wage is an exemplar of a new movement called “effective altruism,” aimed at taking a rigorous, nonsentimental approach to making the maximum difference in the world. Singer has been a leader in this movement, and in a book scheduled to be released in the coming week he explores what it means to live ethically.

The book, “The Most Good You Can Do,” takes a dim view of conventional charitable donations, such as supporting art museums or universities, churches or dog shelters. Singer asks: Is supporting an art museum really as socially useful as, say, helping people avoid blindness?

People who want to lead an ethical life should no more follow Singer than they would a KKK grand dragon who also believes in supporting cancer research.

As I point out over at Human Exceptionalism, Singer:

  • Supports the moral propriety of infanticide;
  • Believes the severely disabled people should be experimented on in place of animals that have greater cognitive capacities;
  • Doesn’t think there is anything particularly wrong with bestiality;
  • Would create a sub-class of human beings, so-called “non-persons” that would be exploitable as natural resources–as he would raise some animals to the status of equal “persons.”

Granted, Kristof is not most people’s idea of a deep thinker. But he isn’t a discerning one either when he looks to Peter Singer as a proper arbiter of what is right and what is wrong.