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Peter Singer, One World

Posted by dlandgren on 2008-11-16

A long time ago Fiona gave me a copy of Peter Singer, How Are We to Live? : Ethics in an Age of Self-Interest. Singer’s name came up recently in a conversation with a friend, Scott, who mentioned that he had read One World. One thing led to another and he lent it to me.

The book is the result of a series of lectures he gave at Yale as part of the “Dwight Harrington Foundation Lectures on Religion in the Light of Science and Philosophy”.

He starts from the basis that we share One Atmosphere, and discusses global warming and the steps needed to address it.

Globalisation has led to a situation where the entire economic activity of the world may be described as One Economy. A natural corollary to that is that there is the need for One Law. Yet this does not mean he advocates a World Government (indeed he wryly acknowledges that such a beast would be an ineffectual bureaucratic monster), but that in all countries, people must be able to see that the system that globalisation has introduced is fair and just.

Finally he discusses the problem of wealth redistribution and foreign aid under the theme of One Community.

It’s an easy and enjoyable read. Of particular note is the manner in which he addresses the need for international action on climate change, and his examination of the World Trade Organisation. Yes, one can criticise some of the conclusions, but it is not a text that can be dismissed out of hand. Overall, there’s a lot to ponder.


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