Earlier this month, philosopher Peter Singer was awarded a Companion of the Order of Australia award, the country’s highest civilian honor. For many, it was a fitting move. For others, it was reprehensible. Is Singer a moral hero, or is he the world’s most dangerous philosopher? That’s the complex question taken up in a profile in the Jewish news outlet JTA:

He’s been brandished “the most dangerous man on earth,” accused of being a “public advocate of genocide” and likened to Josef Mengele, the notorious Nazi “Angel of Death.”

Yet he’s also been hailed as “one of the world’s 100 most influential people” and “among the most influential philosophers alive.”

Welcome to the contradictory world that surrounds Peter Singer, the Australia-born moral philosopher who has been a professor of bioethics at Princeton University in New Jersey since 1999. Loved and loathed, one thing cannot be refuted: Singer, 65, has provoked debate about controversial issues such as infanticide, euthanasia, eugenics and animal rights. 

Advertisements