email page print pageAll Topic Reviews
Anger and Forgiveness"Are You There Alone?"10 Good Questions about Life and DeathA Casebook of Ethical Challenges in NeuropsychologyA Companion to BioethicsA Companion to BioethicsA Companion to GenethicsA Companion to GenethicsA Companion to Muslim EthicsA Cooperative SpeciesA Critique of the Moral Defense of VegetarianismA Delicate BalanceA Life for a LifeA Life-Centered Approach to BioethicsA Matter of SecurityA Natural History of Human MoralityA Philosophical DiseaseA Practical Guide to Clinical Ethics ConsultingA Question of TrustA Sentimentalist Theory of the MindA Short Stay in SwitzerlandA Tapestry of ValuesA Very Bad WizardA World Without ValuesAction and ResponsibilityAction Theory, Rationality and CompulsionActs of ConscienceAddiction and ResponsibilityAddiction NeuroethicsAdvance Directives in Mental HealthAfter HarmAftermathAgainst AutonomyAgainst BioethicsAgainst HealthAgainst Moral ResponsibilityAgency and AnswerabilityAgency and ResponsibilityAgency, Freedom, and Moral ResponsibilityAging, Biotechnology, and the FutureAlbert Schweitzer's Reverence for LifeAlphavilleAltruismAltruismAmerican EugenicsAmerican PsychosisAn Anthology of Psychiatric EthicsAn Introduction to EthicsAn Introduction to Evolutionary EthicsAn Introduction to Kant's Moral Philosophy And a Time to DieAnimal LessonsAnimal RightsAnimals Like UsApplied Ethics in Mental Health CareAre Women Human?Aristotle on Practical WisdomAristotle's Ethics and Moral ResponsibilityAssisted Suicide and the Right to DieAutonomyAutonomy and the Challenges to LiberalismAutonomy, Consent and the LawBabies by DesignBackslidingBad PharmaBad SoulsBasic Desert, Reactive Attitudes and Free WillBeauty JunkiesBefore ForgivingBeing AmoralBeing YourselfBending Over BackwardsBending ScienceBernard WilliamsBetter Humans?Better Than WellBeyond ChoiceBeyond GeneticsBeyond HatredBeyond Humanity?Beyond LossBeyond LossBeyond Moral JudgmentBeyond the DSM StoryBias in Psychiatric DiagnosisBioethicsBioethicsBioethics and the BrainBioethics at the MoviesBioethics Beyond the HeadlinesBioethics Critically ReconsideredBioethics in a Liberal SocietyBioethics in the ClinicBiomedical EthicsBiomedical EthicsBiomedical EthicsBiomedical EthicsBiomedical Research and BeyondBiosBioscience EthicsBipolar ChildrenBluebirdBodies out of BoundsBodies, Commodities, and BiotechnologiesBody BazaarBoundBoundaries and Boundary Violations in PsychoanalysisBraintrustBrandedBreaking the SilenceBuffy the Vampire Slayer and PhilosophyCapital PunishmentCase Studies in Biomedical Research EthicsChallenging the Stigma of Mental IllnessCharacter and Moral Psychology Character as Moral FictionChild Well-BeingChildrenChildren's RightsChoosing ChildrenChoosing Not to ChooseClinical Dilemmas in PsychotherapyClinical EthicsCloningClose toYouCoercion as CureCoercive Treatment in PsychiatryCognition of Value in Aristotle's EthicsCognitive Disability and Its Challenge to Moral Philosophy Comfortably NumbCommonsense RebellionCommunicative Action and Rational ChoiceCompetence, Condemnation, and CommitmentComprehending CareConducting Insanity EvaluationsConfidential RelationshipsConfidentiality and Mental HealthConflict of Interest in the ProfessionsConsuming KidsContemporary Debates In Applied EthicsContemporary Debates in Moral TheoryContemporary Debates in Social PhilosophyContentious IssuesContesting PsychiatryCrazy in AmericaCreating CapabilitiesCreatures Like Us?Crime and CulpabilityCrime, Punishment, and Mental IllnessCritical Perspectives in Public HealthCritical PsychiatryCrueltyCultural Assessment in Clinical PsychiatryCurrent Controversies in Values and ScienceCutting to the CoreCyborg CitizenDamaged IdentitiesDeaf Identities in the MakingDeath Is That Man Taking NamesDebating ProcreationDebating Same-Sex MarriageDecision Making, Personhood and DementiaDecoding the Ethics CodeDefining DifferenceDefining Right and Wrong in Brain ScienceDefining the Beginning and End of LifeDelusions of GenderDementiaDemocracy in What State?Demons of the Modern WorldDescriptions and PrescriptionsDesert and VirtueDesire, Practical Reason, and the GoodDestructive Trends in Mental HealthDeveloping the VirtuesDid My Neurons Make Me Do It?Difference and IdentityDigital HemlockDigital SoulDignityDisability BioethicsDisability, Difference, DiscriminationDisordered Personalities and CrimeDisorders of VolitionDisorientation and Moral LifeDivided Minds and Successive SelvesDoes Feminism Discriminate against Men?Does Torture Work?Double Standards in Medical Research in Developing CountriesDrugs and JusticeDworkin and His CriticsDying in the Twenty-First CenturyEarly WarningEconomics and Youth ViolenceEmbodied RhetoricsEmerging Conceptual, Ethical and Policy Issues in BionanotechnologyEmotional ReasonEmotions in the Moral LifeEmotions in the Moral LifeEmpathyEmpathy and Moral DevelopmentEmpathy and MoralityEmpirical Ethics in PsychiatryEncountering NatureEncountering the Sacred in PsychotherapyEngendering International HealthEnhancing EvolutionEnhancing Human CapacitiesEnoughEros and the GoodErotic InnocenceErotic MoralityEssays on Derek Parfit's On What MattersEssays on Free Will and Moral ResponsibilityEthical Choices in Contemporary MedicineEthical Conflicts in PsychologyEthical Dilemmas in PediatricsEthical Issues in Behavioral ResearchEthical Issues in Dementia CareEthical Issues in Forensic Mental Health ResearchEthical Issues in the New GeneticsEthical LifeEthical Reasoning for Mental Health ProfessionalsEthical TheoryEthical WillsEthically Challenged ProfessionsEthicsEthicsEthicsEthics and AnimalsEthics and ScienceEthics and the A PrioriEthics and the Discovery of the UnconsciousEthics and the Metaphysics of MedicineEthics at the CinemaEthics Case Book of the American Psychoanalytic AssociationEthics Done RightEthics ExpertiseEthics for EveryoneEthics for PsychologistsEthics for the New MillenniumEthics in CyberspaceEthics in Health CareEthics In Health Services ManagementEthics in Mental Health ResearchEthics in PracticeEthics in PsychiatryEthics in PsychologyEthics in Psychotherapy and CounselingEthics of PsychiatryEthics without OntologyEthics, Culture, and PsychiatryEthics, Sexual Orientation, and Choices about ChildrenEvaluating the Science and Ethics of Research on HumansEvilEvil GenesEvil in Modern ThoughtEvil in Modern ThoughtEvolution, Gender, and RapeEvolutionary Ethics and Contemporary BiologyEvolutionary Psychology and ViolenceEvolved MoralityExperiments in EthicsExploding the Gene MythExploiting ChildhoodFacing Human SufferingFact and ValueFaking ItFalse-Memory Creation in Children and AdultsFat ShameFatal FreedomFellow-Feeling and the Moral LifeFeminism and Its DiscontentsFeminist Ethics and Social and Political PhilosophyFeminist TheoryFinal ExamFirst Do No HarmFirst, Do No HarmFlashpointFlesh WoundsForced to CareForgivenessForgivenessForgiveness and LoveForgiveness and ReconciliationForgiveness and RetributionFoucault and the Government of DisabilityFoundational Issues in Human Brain MappingFoundations of Forensic Mental Health AssessmentFree WillFree Will And Moral ResponsibilityFree Will and Reactive AttitudesFree Will, Agency, and Meaning in LifeFree?Freedom and ValueFreedom vs. InterventionFriendshipFrom Darwin to HitlerFrom Disgust to HumanityFrom Enlightenment to ReceptivityFrom Morality to Mental HealthFrom Silence to VoiceFrom Valuing to ValueFrontiers of JusticeGender in the MirrorGenetic PoliticsGenetic ProspectsGenetic ProspectsGenetics of Original SinGenetics of Original SinGenocide's AftermathGetting RealGluttonyGood WorkGoodness & AdviceGreedGroups in ConflictGrowing Up GirlGut FeminismHabilitation, Health, and AgencyHandbook for Health Care Ethics CommitteesHandbook of BioethicsHandbook of Children's RightsHandbook of PsychopathyHappinessHappiness and the Good LifeHappiness Is OverratedHard FeelingsHard LuckHardwired BehaviorHarmful ThoughtsHeal & ForgiveHealing PsychiatryHealth Care Ethics for PsychologistsHeterosyncraciesHistorical and Philosophical Perspectives on Biomedical EthicsHoly WarHookedHookedHow Can I Be Trusted?How Propaganda WorksHow to Do Things with Pornography How to Make Opportunity EqualHow Universities Can Help Create a Wiser WorldHow We HopeHow We Think About DementiaHuman BondingHuman EnhancementHuman GoodnessHuman Identity and BioethicsHuman TrialsHumanism, What's That?Humanitarian ReasonHumanityHumanizing MadnessI am Not Sick I Don't Need Help!I Was WrongIdentifying Hyperactive ChildrenIf That Ever Happens to MeImproving Nature?In Defense of FloggingIn Defense of SinIn Love With LifeIn Our Own ImageIn the FamilyIn the Land of the DeafIn the Name of IdentityIn the Wake of 9/11In Two MindsInformed Consent in Medical ResearchInnovation in Medical TechnologyInside Assisted LivingInside EthicsIntelligence, Race, and GeneticsIntensive CareInto the Gray ZoneIs Human Nature Obsolete?Is Long-Term Therapy Unethical?Is There a Duty to Die?Is There an Ethicist in the House?Issues in Philosophical CounselingJudging Children As ChildrenJust a DogJust BabiesJust CareJustice for ChildrenJustice for HedgehogsJustice in RobesJustice, Luck, and KnowledgeJustifiable ConductKant on Moral AutonomyKant's Theory of VirtueKids of CharacterKilling McVeighLack of CharacterLack of CharacterLaw and the BrainLearning About School ViolenceLearning from Baby PLeaving YouLectures on the History of Political PhilosophyLegal and Ethical Aspects of HealthcareLegal Aspects of Mental CapacityLegal ConceptionsLegal InsanityLegalizing ProstitutionLet Them Eat ProzacLevelling the Playing FieldLiberal Education in a Knowledge SocietyLiberal EugenicsLife After FaithLife at the BottomLife, Sex, and IdeasListening to the WhispersLiving ProfessionalismLosing Matt ShepardLostLuckyMad in AmericaMad PrideMadhouseMaking Another World PossibleMaking Babies, Making FamiliesMaking Genes, Making WavesMaking Sense of Freedom and ResponsibilityMalignantMasculinity Studies and Feminist TheoryMeaning and Moral OrderMeaning in LifeMeaning in Life and Why It MattersMeans, Ends, and PersonsMeans, Ends, and PersonsMedical Enhancement and PosthumanityMedical Research for HireMedicalized MasculinitiesMedically Assisted DeathMeditations for the HumanistMelancholia and MoralismMental Health Professionals, Minorities and the PoorMental Illness, Medicine and LawMerit, Meaning, and Human BondageMetaethical SubjectivismMill's UtilitarianismMind FieldsMind WarsMind WarsModern Theories of JusticeModernity and TechnologyMoney ShotMonsterMoral Acquaintances and Moral DecisionsMoral BrainsMoral ClarityMoral CultivationMoral Development and RealityMoral Dilemmas in Real LifeMoral DimensionsMoral EntanglementsMoral FailureMoral LiteracyMoral MachinesMoral MindsMoral OriginsMoral Panics, Sex PanicsMoral ParticularismMoral PerceptionMoral PsychologyMoral Psychology: Volume IVMoral RealismMoral RelativismMoral RepairMoral Responsibility and Alternative PossibilitiesMoral Status and Human LifeMoral StealthMoral Theory at the MoviesMoral TribesMoral Value and Human DiversityMoral, Immoral, AmoralMoralismMorality and Self-InterestMorality in a Natural WorldMorality, Moral Luck and ResponsibilityMorals, Rights and Practice in the Human ServicesMorals, Rights and Practice in the Human ServicesMore Than HumanMotive and RightnessMovies and the Moral Adventure of LifeMurder in the InnMy Body PoliticMy Brain Made Me Do ItMy Sister's KeeperMy Sister's KeeperMy WayNano-Bio-EthicsNarrative MedicineNarrative ProsthesisNatural Ethical FactsNatural-Born CybogsNaturalized BioethicsNeither Bad nor MadNeoconservatismNeonatal BioethicsNeurobiology and the Development of Human MoralityNeuroethicsNeuroethicsNeuroethicsNew Takes in Film-PhilosophyNew Waves in EthicsNew Waves in MetaethicsNietzsche on Ethics and PoliticsNo Child Left DifferentNo Impact ManNormative EthicsNormativityNothing about us, without us!Oath BetrayedOf War and LawOn ApologyOn Being AuthenticOn EvilOn Human RightsOn The Stigma Of Mental IllnessOn the TakeOn Virtue EthicsOn What MattersOn What We Owe to Each OtherOne ChildOne Nation Under TherapyOne World NowOne World NowOur Bodies, Whose Property?Our Bodies, Whose Property?Our Daily MedsOur Faithfulness to the PastOur Posthuman FutureOut of EdenOut of Its MindOut of the ShadowsOverdosed AmericaOxford Handbook of Psychiatric EthicsOxford Textbook of Philosophy of PsychiatryPassionate DeliberationPatient Autonomy and the Ethics of ResponsibilityPC, M.D.Perfecting VirtuePersonal AutonomyPersonal Autonomy in SocietyPersonal Identity and EthicsPersonalities on the PlatePersonhood and Health CarePersons, Humanity, and the Definition of DeathPerspectives On Health And Human RightsPharmacracyPharmageddonPhilosophy and This Actual WorldPhilosophy of BiologyPhilosophy of Technology: The Technological ConditionPhysician-Assisted DyingPicturing DisabilityPilgrim at Tinker CreekPlaying God?Playing God?Political EmotionsPornlandPowerful MedicinesPractical Autonomy and BioethicsPractical EthicsPractical Ethics for PsychologistsPractical RulesPragmatic BioethicsPragmatic BioethicsPragmatic NeuroethicsPraise and BlamePreferences and Well-BeingPrimates and PhilosophersPro-Life, Pro-ChoiceProcreation and ParenthoodProfits Before People?Progress in BioethicsProperty in the BodyProzac As a Way of LifeProzac on the CouchPsychiatric Aspects of Justification, Excuse and Mitigation in Anglo-American Criminal Law Psychiatric EthicsPsychiatry and EmpirePsychological Concepts and Biological PsychiatryPsychology and Consumer CulturePsychology and LawPsychotropic Drug Prescriber's Survival GuidePublic Health LawPublic Health Law and EthicsPublic PhilosophyPunishing the Mentally IllPunishmentPursuits of WisdomPutting Morality Back Into PoliticsPutting on VirtueQuality of Life and Human DifferenceRaceRadical HopeRadical VirtuesRape Is RapeRe-creating MedicineRe-Engineering Philosophy for Limited BeingsReason's GriefReasonably ViciousReckoning With HomelessnessReconceiving Medical EthicsRecovery from SchizophreniaRedefining RapeRedesigning HumansReducing the Stigma of Mental IllnessReflections On How We LiveReframing Disease ContextuallyRefusing CareRefuting Peter Singer's Ethical TheoryRelative JusticeRelativism and Human RightsReligion ExplainedReprogeneticsRescuing JeffreyResponsibilityResponsibility and PsychopathyResponsibility and PunishmentResponsibility and PunishmentResponsibility from the MarginsResponsible GeneticsRethinking CommodificationRethinking Informed Consent in BioethicsRethinking Mental Health and DisorderRethinking RapeReturn to ReasonRevolution in PsychologyRightsRights, Democracy, and Fulfillment in the Era of Identity PoliticsRisk and Luck in Medical EthicsRobert NozickRousseau and the Dilemmas of Modernity Rule of Law, Misrule of MenRun, Spot, RunRunning on RitalinSatisficing and MaximizingSchizophrenia, Culture, and SubjectivityScience and EthicsScience in the Private InterestScience, Policy, and the Value-Free IdealScience, Seeds and CyborgsScratching the Surface of BioethicsSecular Philosophy and the Religious TemperamentSeeing the LightSelf-ConstitutionSelf-Made MadnessSelf-Trust and Reproductive AutonomySentimental RulesSex Fiends, Perverts, and PedophilesSex OffendersSex, Family, and the Culture WarsSexual DevianceSexual EthicsSexual PredatorsSexualized BrainsShaping Our SelvesShock TherapyShould I Medicate My Child?ShunnedSick to Death and Not Going to Take It AnymoreSickoSide EffectsSidewalk StoriesSister CitizenSkeptical FeminismSocial Inclusion of People with Mental IllnessSocial JusticeSociological Perspectives on the New GeneticsSome We Love, Some We Hate, Some We EatSovereign VirtueSpeech MattersSpiral of EntrapmentSplit DecisionsSticks and StonesStories MatterSubjectivity and Being SomebodySuffering, Death, and IdentitySuicide ProhibitionSurgery JunkiesSurgically Shaping ChildrenTaking Morality SeriouslyTaming the Troublesome ChildTechnology and the Good Life?TestimonyText and Materials on International Human RightsThe Aims of Higher EducationThe Almost MoonThe Altruistic BrainThe American Psychiatric Publishing Textbook of Forensic PsychiatryThe Animal ManifestoThe Animals' AgendaThe Art of LivingThe Autonomy of MoralityThe Beloved SelfThe Best Things in LifeThe Big FixThe Bioethics ReaderThe Biology and Psychology of Moral AgencyThe Blackwell Guide to Medical EthicsThe Body SilentThe BondThe Book of LifeThe Burden of SympathyThe Cambridge Companion to Virtue EthicsThe Cambridge Companion to Virtue EthicsThe Cambridge Textbook of BioethicsThe Case against Assisted SuicideThe Case Against PerfectionThe Case Against PunishmentThe Case for PerfectionThe Case of Terri SchiavoThe Challenge of Human RightsThe Code for Global EthicsThe Colonization Of Psychic SpaceThe Commercialization of Intimate LifeThe Common ThreadThe Connected SelfThe Constitution of AgencyThe Creation of PsychopharmacologyThe Criminal BrainThe Decency WarsThe Difficult-to-Treat Psychiatric PatientThe Disability PendulumThe Disability Rights Movement: From Charity to ConfrontationThe Domain of ReasonsThe Double-Edged HelixThe Duty to ProtectThe Emotional Construction of MoralsThe End of Ethics in a Technological SocietyThe End of Stigma?The Essentials of New York Mental Health LawThe Ethical BrainThe Ethical Dimensions of the Biological and Health SciencesThe Ethics of BioethicsThe Ethics of ParenthoodThe Ethics of SightseeingThe Ethics of the FamilyThe Ethics of the Family in SenecaThe Ethics of the LieThe Ethics of TransplantsThe Ethics of WarThe Ethics ToolkitThe Evolution of Mental Health LawThe Evolution of MoralityThe FamilyThe Fat Studies ReaderThe Forgiveness ProjectThe Form of Practical KnowledgeThe Fountain of YouthThe Freedom ParadoxThe Future of Assisted Suicide and EuthanasiaThe Future of Human NatureThe Good BookThe Good LifeThe Great BetrayalThe Handbook of Disability StudiesThe Healing VirtuesThe High Price of MaterialismThe History of Human RightsThe HorizonThe Idea of JusticeThe Ideal of NatureThe Illusion of Freedom and EqualityThe Immortal Life of Henrietta LacksThe Importance of Being UnderstoodThe Insanity OffenseThe Joy of SecularismThe Language PoliceThe Last Normal ChildThe Last UtopiaThe Limits of MedicineThe LobotomistThe Love CureThe Lucifer EffectThe Manual of EpictetusThe Mark of ShameThe Meaning of NiceThe Medicalization of SocietyThe Merck DruggernautThe Mind Has MountainsThe Modern Art of DyingThe Modern SavageThe Moral ArcThe Moral BrainThe Moral Demands of MemoryThe Moral FoolThe Moral MindThe Moral Psychology HandbookThe Moral, Social, and Commercial Imperatives of Genetic Testing and ScreeningThe Most Good You Can DoThe Myth of ChoiceThe Myth of the Moral BrainThe Nature of NormativityThe New Disability HistoryThe New Genetic MedicineThe New Religious IntoleranceThe Offensive InternetThe Origins of FairnessThe Oxford Handbook of Animal EthicsThe Oxford Handbook of Ethics at the End of LifeThe Perfect BabyThe Philosophy of NeedThe Philosophy of PornographyThe Philosophy of PsychiatryThe Politics Of LustThe Portable Ethicist for Mental Health Professionals The Power of Religion in the Public SphereThe Price of PerfectionThe Price of TruthThe Problem of PunishmentThe Prosthetic ImpulseThe Psychology of Good and EvilThe Psychology of Good and EvilThe PsychopathThe Purity MythThe Pursuit of PerfectionThe Relevance of Philosophy to LifeThe Right Road to Radical FreedomThe Right to Be ParentsThe Righteous MindThe Root of All EvilThe Rules of InsanityThe Second SexismThe Second-Person StandpointThe Silent World of Doctor and PatientThe Sleep of ReasonThe Social Psychology of Good and EvilThe Social Psychology of MoralityThe Social Psychology of MoralityThe Speed of DarkThe Stem Cell ControversyThe Stem Cell ControversyThe Story of Cruel and UnusualThe Story WithinThe Stubborn System of Moral ResponsibilityThe Suicide TouristThe Terrible GiftThe Theory of OptionsThe Therapy of DesireThe Trauma of Psychological TortureThe Trauma of Psychological TortureThe Triple HelixThe Trolley Problem MysteriesThe Trouble with DiversityThe Truth About the Drug CompaniesThe Ugly LawsThe Varieties of Religious ExperienceThe Virtue of Defiance and Psychiatric EngagementThe Virtues of FreedomThe Virtues of HappinessThe Virtuous Life in Greek EthicsThe Virtuous PsychiatristThe Voice of Breast Cancer in Medicine and BioethicsThe War Against BoysThe War for Children's MindsThe Whole ChildThe Woman RacketThe Worldwide Practice of TortureTherapy with ChildrenThieves of VirtueThree Generations, No ImbecilesTimes of Triumph, Times of DoubtTolerance Among The VirtuesTolerance and the Ethical LifeTolerationToxic PsychiatryTrauma, Truth and ReconciliationTreatment Kind and FairTrusting on the EdgeTry to RememberUltimate JudgementUnborn in the USA: Inside the War on AbortionUndermining ScienceUnderstanding AbortionUnderstanding CloningUnderstanding EmotionsUnderstanding EvilUnderstanding Kant's EthicsUnderstanding Moral ObligationUnderstanding Physician-Pharmaceutical Industry InteractionsUnderstanding TerrorismUnderstanding the GenomeUnderstanding the Stigma of Mental IllnessUnderstanding Treatment Without ConsentUnhingedUnprincipled VirtueUnsanctifying Human Life: Essays on EthicsUnspeakable Acts, Ordinary PeopleUp in FlamesUpheavals of ThoughtUsers and Abusers of PsychiatryValue-Free Science?Values and Psychiatric DiagnosisValues in ConflictVegetarianismViolence and Mental DisorderVirtue EthicsVirtue, Rules, and JusticeVirtue, Vice, and PersonalityVirtues and Their VicesVulnerability, Autonomy, and Applied EthicsWar Against the WeakWar, Torture and TerrorismWarrior's DishonourWeaknessWelfare and Rational CareWhat Genes Can't DoWhat Have We DoneWhat Is a Human?What Is Good and WhyWhat Is Good and WhyWhat Is the Good Life?What Price Better Health?What Should I Do?What We Owe to Each OtherWhat Would Aristotle Do?What's Good on TVWhat's Normal?What's Wrong with Children's RightsWhat's Wrong with Homosexuality?What's Wrong With Morality?When Is Discrimination Wrong?Who Holds the Moral High Ground?Who Owns YouWho Qualifies for Rights?Whose America?Whose View of Life?Why Animals MatterWhy Animals MatterWhy I Burned My Book and Other Essays on DisabilityWhy Not Kill Them All?Why Punish? How Much?Why Some Things Should Not Be for SaleWisdom, Intuition and EthicsWithout ConscienceWomen and Borderline Personality DisorderWomen and MadnessWondergenesWould You Kill the Fat Man?Wrestling with Behavioral GeneticsWriting About PatientsYou Must Be DreamingYour Genetic DestinyYour Inner FishYouth Offending and Youth Justice Yuck!
Peter Singer is one of those philosophers who takes on topics of more than just academic interest and whose work has a real impact on what his readers do in the world. He has pointed out that if the essence of morality is to not weigh your own interests more heavily than the interests of others in making choices, then we should not subject other animals to deplorable treatment on factory farms just so we can indulge in cheap animal products, and we should not spend our money on luxuries for ourselves when there are people in the world who lack necessities. In The Most Good You Can Do, Singer encourages us to think about how we might do the most good with our lives, and he profiles some individuals whom he knows and considers "effective altruists."
While the idea that we should do the most good we can do (or can bring ourselves to do) is unassailable, probably no reader will agree with all aspects of the book as reading it makes plain that we all have different notions of what the best and most important outcomes are and of how best to achieve them. The book discusses both what career one should pursue (and in this regard is sometimes written in a way more applicable to the students Singer teaches than to the average member of the public) and what one should do with the money one makes. In each arena, though the general points are sound, not all of the specifics are well-taken. While hopefully all will agree with Singer that it is better to donate money to prevent or cure trachoma-caused blindness than to fund a new wing of an art museum (pp. 118-23), a lot of other comparisons are not as easy.
Unagreed upon issues and values and the difficulties in making these calculations are particularly prominent in the last chapter of the book in which Singer entertains the idea that perhaps effective altruists should spend money on trying to prevent human extinction. For most of this chapter, Singer assumes that the extinction of our species would be bad. That may be a conventional view, but its truth is far from obvious. Currently, there are upwards of seven billion of us on the planet. Singer states that 9.1 billion animals are raised and slaughtered for food annually in the United States alone (p. 137). While all of these animals do not live simultaneously, this is the number from just one country, which suggests that the amount of suffering our species causes may well outweigh whatever value we think attaches to our existence. Even the best-situated human may not experience enough of value in an average day to outweigh the suffering of an average factory-farmed animal on an average day. Furthermore, many of the seven billion humans existing on the planet themselves have more suffering than pleasant or otherwise valuable experiences in an average day. In addition, anyone who has seen March of the Penguins knows that, even apart from anything humans have done, there are other species existing on earth who seem to experience more suffering than pleasure or anything else of value. Evolution cares nothing about the quality of lives, and a species can survive even if the most rational thing for each member of that species to do is to commit suicide as long as enough members of the species do not do it or at least procreate first.
Right now much of sentient life on earth is dominated by our species. We have already destroyed the environment and continue to inflict great amounts of violence on ourselves and on other species. If as the result of evolution in general and our behavior in particular, the earth currently contains more suffering than happiness or whatever else one values, a large asteroid or comet colliding with the planet--one of the scenarios discussed by Singer (p. 165)--might be something to hope for rather than try to prevent.
Even if one believes that the positive outweighs the negative on earth, some of Singer's calculations do not make much sense. For instance, Singer says that according to the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration, a large asteroid or comet collides with the earth on average every 100,000 years or less often (p. 165). The only collision with an extinction-size asteroid that Singer mentions happened 65 million years ago, so "or less" might be the better bet. In any event, Singer sometimes seems to calculate as if he assumes that if current earthlings were annihilated, no species that would have lives of value would ever evolve on earth again (pp. 169-71). It is not clear why he believes this. He says that the collision 65 million years ago killed the dinosaurs (p. 165). Perhaps this is part of what made our existence possible. If an asteroid killed us, maybe a better species far less violent than ours would happen to evolve the next time around.
The oddities of the calculations in this chapter do not end there. At one point, Singer talks about how U.S. government agencies such as the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Transportation have put dollar values on lives when deciding what regulations and safety measures are worth pursuing (p. 168). He says these agencies have come up with a value of between $6 and $9.1 million per life, and we might be able to save ourselves from extinction via asteroid for the "relatively modest" sum of $1 million per life (p. 169). The calculation seems to entirely ignore the fact that, as he had mentioned earlier, there are many ways in which our extinction could come about (pp. 166-67). All the money spent on the technology to blow up an asteroid does not save any lives if we destroy ourselves with nuclear weapons before the asteroid we spent billions to avoid hits. So the correct calculations are much more complicated than the ones in Singer's book. If we are interested in avoiding our extinction, how much it is rational to spend on avoiding one possible means of extinction depends, in part, on how much we're spending on avoiding all the other possible means of extinction. We recognize these kinds of choices in medicine occasionally. We do not spend a lot of money trying to cure an elderly person of some slow-growing cancer if we know she is probably going to die of her heart disease first. Furthermore, earlier in the book, Singer talks about lives that can be saved for as little as $2500 by providing mosquito nets to children who would otherwise die of malaria (p. 6). Relative to that figure, spending $1 million per life saved to avoid colliding with an asteroid is far from modest.
Singer tries to save this last chapter from undermining the values that seem to underpin the rest of the book by suggesting in the final paragraph that if we contribute to such causes as eliminating factory farms and educating and empowering women, we can both help sentient beings right now and reduce the chance of human extinction via climate change, catastrophic viruses, or nuclear war (pp. 177-78). Indeed, there is a great deal of convergence between the things we can do to make the world better now and the things we can do to make the world better in the future. But some people think the only thing that matters is the quality of lives that are lived, and other people think the number of lives that are lived matters; and where the topic is what avoiding the extinction of the species is worth, it is not really possible to address both of these groups in any sensible fashion simultaneously. For those who do not think death, non-existence, or extinction is intrinsically bad but who care only about the quality of lives, this chapter seems largely counterproductive. In fact, if what one really cares about is preventing or alleviating suffering, the chapter does not even mention the most important aspect of the asteroid scenario--viz., the manner and timeframe in which we would die--i.e., how gruesome our end would be. For some people, these matters are important to how much we should worry about this scenario and spend trying to avoid it. And if one does not value the persistence of the species but cares only about the experiences of individuals, a system for insuring the end is not too prolonged and horrible might be a cheaper and more favorable alternative than spending possibly greater sums to avoid a collision with an asteroid altogether.
Another area of the book that goes awry is the discussion of otherwise effective altruists who decide to have a child even though this means they will have less time, income, and energy to devote to good causes (pp. 28-31). Singer seems to accept the argument--made by one of the effective altruists he profiles--that effective altruists can reasonably hope that their children will benefit the world (p. 31). He thinks these children may end up doing more good than harm, which will offset part of the cost of raising them (p. 31). He says:
We can put it another way: If all those who are concerned to do the most good decide not to have children, while those who do not care about anyone else continue to have children, can we really expect that, a few generations on, the world will be a better place than it would have been if those who care about others had had children? (p. 31)
Almost no one is accurately described as not caring about anyone else and almost everyone has children, so the argument ends up being more offensive than realistic. Giving meaningful amounts to good causes may be a lot like being vegan, most people do not do it, but it seems harsh and false to assume this is because they do not care about anyone else. Singer himself has effectively devoted much of his life to convincing people besides those he has brought into existence to give meaningful amounts to charity and to become vegan. In some cases, little more is necessary than educating the person about the treatment of factory farm animals and stimulating thinking about what really positive things money wisely donated can accomplish. People's parents do not sentence them to being unable to grasp or unwilling to act on these things.
Furthermore, Singer overlooks the toll that each of us takes on the environment. Surely the biggest single thing a person can do to keep her carbon footprint small is not have a child. Having a child does not just divert resources away from helpful projects, it invests them in a project that will only increase the toll our species is taking on our environment and climate. The lifestyle of effective altruists may take less of a toll, but it still takes a toll. It seems unlikely that any child of effective altruists is going to go on to do so much good as to outweigh the negative not only of their own existence but of the good their parents did not do because they were devoting themselves to their child. All a couple has to do is change the mind of one existing person with the time, money, energy, or caring they would have put into raising a child to make it clear that not having a child is a benefit in every way. If one believes that there are already too many humans on the planet, increasing the number of effective altruists by converting existing people is clearly preferable to increasing the number of effective altruists by increasing the number of people. When an altruist has a baby, it does not stop a selfish person from having a baby. If anything, it supports the selfish person in having a baby as it shows support for making that choice. So for those who believe that seven billion people is too many, effective altruists are those who do not have children and who argue against procreation, not those who suggest by example that having babies is an acceptable project.
In addition, one of the people Singer profiles who decides to have a child is not vegan (p. 30). On Singer's theory, that child will adopt her parents' values, so we can expect the suffering of farm animals at the hands of this family to go on for at least another generation.
Singer asks in his preface whether our rational capacities do little more than lay a justificatory veneer over actions that we were already going to do anyway because of our innate needs and emotional responses (p. ix). He does not think this need be the case, but he succumbs to it himself when he assesses people who doubtless actually want to have children for selfish reasons as somehow making the future brighter because they will be adding their allegedly superior babies to all the babies others are having. Singer recognizes elsewhere that we all have some selfish things we are not willing to give up. This would seem to be the more accurate way to analyze these otherwise effective altruists who have children--having their own babies was just something they were not willing to give up for the sake of the greater good. Not even the effective altruists profiled in this book are perfect (though some of them come very close).
One of the most important and useful points of the book also can end up getting weakened by the particular calculations Singer makes with respect to it. The important and useful point is that many of us can do more good by donating our money to good causes than by working for them ourselves. This may be sort of obviously true for people who do not have the talents or experience good causes are looking for and who are already enmeshed and advanced in other kinds of careers. It seems important to point out to people who are not doing a job they consider particularly socially important that they should not necessarily feel bad about this because they can nevertheless accomplish so much good if they just resolve to donate a meaningful amount of their income to good causes. Singer does not so much address these sorts of people as advise the young and talented with a lot of options that they might be able to accomplish more good by pursuing a lucrative career and donating much of the salary than by working for a good cause. This may generally be true because nonprofits seem to be able to find employees, and very few people give substantial amounts of their income to charity. So while anyone who would take an altruist's place working for a good cause would be working for the good cause, few people who would take an altruist's place working for some other kind of employer would be giving a substantial portion of their income to a good cause. So, in general, it may be better for an altruist to take a better-paying job with another employer and donate a large portion of her income to a good cause than to take a job working for a good cause.
Still, Singer may overstate the case, and he makes some rather unlikely empirical assumptions along the way. He apparently thinks employers can correctly rank job applicants according to who will end up being the best employee, and he thinks the person who would be best at the job can safely assume that whoever will take the job if she does not will be almost as good at it as she would be (p. 41). Singer does not cite any evidence for this claim, so it is not clear on what basis someone who wants to work for a good cause should believe it. If a person thinks she will happily work nights and weekends, has no family or hobby to divide her attention, would work for the organization in question for her entire career, and has all the right personality traits, talents, education and experience to do a great job, maybe she should not assume that the organization will manage to hire just as devoted and talented an employee if she takes a better-paying job instead.
In addition, Singer does not discuss endeavors such as teaching in a school district unattractive to most teachers, which could make a significant impact on the quality of people's lives and for which there do not seem to be long lines of dedicated and talented people lining up. One could also do a lot of good in the United States by being a police officer who treated everyone appropriately, a school principal who did not turn student misbehavior into a law enforcement issue, or an elected official who effectively worked to make people's lives better. Judging from the quality of some members of these professions now, there does not seem to be any assurance in these fields that if an effective altruist with the relevant talents and qualifications does not do the job someone just as good will.
There are two very interesting and harder questions Singer raises in the context of choosing a job that he does not end up answering in a straightforward manner. The first is whether it is good to take a lucrative job doing a little bit of bad if the good one can do with the income from the job is greater than the bad involved in the job. The second is whether it is good to take a lucrative job doing more bad than the good one can do with the income from the job if otherwise someone else would take the job and do just as much bad in the job but not donate the income from it. Singer talks all around these issues but always hedges what he says in some way.
One of the effective altruists he profiles works for a bank, but instead of arguing that the bad of working for a bank (if there is any--Singer never discusses exactly what this person does at the bank) is outweighed by the good the person's donations do, Singer makes it plain that he does not see anything wrong with working for a bank (p. 50). He seems to argue that some form of banking is necessary for capitalism and, in effect, at least, seems to jump straight from that premise to the conclusion that it is fine to work for the banking industry as it currently exists in the United States. This ignores that the industry does such things as lobby against needed reforms, that capitalism predates the invention of many types of financial transactions that people make money off of today that really may not be salutary, the possibility of nationalizing banks rather than forcing taxpayers to underwrite the losses while the bankers pocket the profits, and the problem of the continued existence of institutions that remain "too big to fail" and so pose a continued risk to the economy. In any event, regardless of whether one shares Singer's view of banks, since he takes a rather positive view, it is not clear what he would think about an effective altruist taking a job doing something bad because they will give more of their income to good causes than their replacement would.
Singer also talks about philosopher Bernard Williams's example in which a person works on the development of new chemical weapons but makes less of a contribution to this endeavor than would the person who would have taken the job if she had not (p. 48). Likewise, he talks about a concentration camp guard who is a less brutal guard than his replacement would be (p. 52). Since these people are rather clearly doing something good in that they are doing less harm than would be done by their replacements, these examples also do not tell us what Singer would think of someone who takes a job doing something bad and justifies it solely on the basis that she donates a large share of her income to a good cause and makes more money at it than at other possible occupations while her replacement probably would not donate as much of the income from the job.
How one should feel about taking a job doing something bad is not a trivial issue because jobs doing bad things abound. In the United States, for instance, there are a lot of well-paying jobs in the "defense" industry. If one believes that one of the worst problems in the world is our tendency to try to solve disputes with violence, and if one believes that the amount of money the United States pours into its military is one of its worst faults, it seems it might not be a good idea to work for a military contractor even if one could make more money in that field than in any other and donate it to good causes, and even if someone else would take the job if the altruist did not.
It is always hard to know how to capture and weigh the more diffuse and intangible consequences of the things we do. If an effective altruist took a job designing drones for the U.S. military and gave most of her earnings to a good cause, she might be able to set a good example for her coworkers with respect to giving, but she would be setting a bad example for her coworkers by being willing to work in this area and affirming the idea that it is a fine thing to do. Suppose one of her friends tried to convince one of their mutual friends that she should be impressed with how much money the effective altruist donates. It seems likely the reply would be "yeah, but she earns all that money by designing drones so that we can kill people." Rightly or wrongly, such a person might end up inspiring fewer people to follow her example than she would if she took a more benign job because fewer people will admire her and want to be like her. Moreover, it is quite likely that more people will find out what she does for a living than how much she donates to good causes. So for many people, the only proposition her life will stand for is that it is not absurd to try to stop violence with more violence.
It seems obviously correct to divert a trolley so that it kills one person instead of five (p. 79) and to lie to the Nazis so they bomb a less populated part of England rather than London (p. 51), but in these examples discussed by Singer, it is clear the person is trying to minimize killing. In these cases, the justification of the action does not depend at any point on the claim that if one person did not do it, someone else would. It seems likely that it rarely maximizes good consequences to do something that one justifies in part on this basis. It is important to oppose some pursuits, and it is hard to credibly do this if one is engaged in them regardless of what use one makes of the salary.
Throughout the book, Singer seems to emphasize the extreme poverty existing in poor countries as the source of human misery, but, of course, there are many others, and some of them exist in wealthy countries. For example, people serving lengthy prison sentences for nonviolent crimes in the United States have food, shelter, and some medical care, but this injustice may nevertheless be one a resident of the United States should be concerned to do something about. The United States is also plagued by racism, gun violence, a very violent culture in general, rampant drug addiction, crazy people running for president, inhumane and unrealistic immigration laws, and inequality in education, opportunity, and income. Curing these social ills is valuable too, and it is almost arrogant to set out to solve the problems of other countries when we have yet to solve our own. In addition, some of the charities Singer mentions do not even seem to aim at long-term solutions to root problems. And as discussed above, anyone who thinks there is value in making lives better but no value in making lives will disagree with some of the ways in which Singer works out how effective altruists can do the most good. Still, if readers of the book are inspired to think about devoting a more substantial portion of their income to accomplishing something good in the world, then Singer's calculation that the most good he could do with some of his time recently was to write this book will have been a sound one.
© 2016 Gail Merten
Gail Merten has a Ph.D. in philosophy from the University of Arizona and a J.D. from Arizona State University. She works as an attorney in Washington, D.C., and does not spend much of her time worrying about asteroids.