Rationally Speaking | Official Podcast of New York City Skeptics - Current Episodes - RS97 - Peter Singer on Being a Utilitarian in the Real World

while singer's reasoning is compelling to a degree, it gets worse when you take it to its logical extension for these reasons:1) you are compelled to be a martyr.

any consumption above basic caloric needs and survival could be considered immoral.

since there are no

theoretical limits to the number of famines, droughts, people having children they cant afford to raise, etc… there are no limits to the amount of sacrifices you may be compelled to make.

so you must recognize right away there are limits to this "they are as important as me" logic unless you take a vow of poverty.

and even if you did vow poverty, you'd fall into trap #2…2) if failure to do the most good is wrong, then failure to make the most money you can is also wrong.

if i live in a country with economic opportunities, and choose to work very little and live simply, i am sinning, because i have the opportunity to work hard and route more funds to starving people.

lets say we have a hippie who wears sandals and a dirty t-shirt and makes 12k a year who decides he should make 50k so he can send more to charity. he has a very complicated calculation ahead.

how much can he skimp on suits and shampoo and still make good money?

the question becomes "what is the most i can make for others while maximally depriving myself?"

not only can it be wrong to be rich, it can be wrong to be poor!i think when you look at it carefully, not a single person on earth both accepts and lives by this standard.

you need to set from the beginning limits on how much you are willing to do, so you don't slip into perpetual guilt and martyrdom.

everyone, including singer, sets these limits.

and once you set limits, you have abandoned singers "objective" assertion that all lives are equally important.

to one degree or another, we all give ourselves preference.

if evolution has ingrained one thing in us, its "don't smother yourself in BBQ sauce and have your body shipped to Congo"AND FINALLY…3) the idea of objectivity in ethics is ridiculous. there is no "objective" reason to prefer a human life over a tree or a rock.

we can go much further…

there is no reason to prefer a universe filled with creatures, spaceships and christmas trees over a universe that is a featureless void, unless you have some preference for life and activity to begin with.

whenever i hear someone evoke objectivity in a moral argument i sprain my eyes rolling them.

objectively, our entire planet is an irrelevance.

people want to be "objective" when it gives them a pretty answer, but true objectivity is a sociopath.

if you have any feelings at all for the human race don't aspire to be objective. if you were, you wouldn't give a rats ass about what happened to anyone.