The Life You Can Save

That is the opening page of the book The Life You Can Save, by Australian moral philosopher Peter Singer. It makes the ethical and philosophical case for how and why developed world residents should do more to reduce the global poverty.

In addition to laying out several moral and rational arguments for why we should devote more of our resources to humanitarian causes — as well as addressing common counter-arguments and concerns — Singer provides a practical and methodological approach to how we go about this: how much to give and where, how to find the most effective aid groups, and so on. (It is refreshing to see moral recommendations backed by actionable strategies.)

I am about halfway through this fairly short and easy to read book, and I highly recommend it for those seeking a simple but well-grounded framework to do some good in the world. It is a lot easier and more feasible for those of us in the middle class to help our fellow humans across the globe than many of us think, and I feel Singer most definitely proves it.

Even if you disagree with the arguments or strategies provided, the book at least gets us thinking about how we choose to devote our time and resources in a world of widespread abject poverty and pervasive inequality. Being more conscious of our lifestyle impact the world — or fail to do so in a positive way — is a great first step to making the necessary changes for a better, more morally-grounded humanity.

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