To all appearances, [Singer] lives on far more than $30,000 a year. Aside from the Manhattan apartment--he asked me not to give the address or describe it as a condition of granting an interview--he and his wife Renata, to whom he has been married for some three decades, have a house in Princeton. The average salary of a full professor at Princeton runs around $100,000 per year; Singer also draws income from a trust fund that his father set up and from the sales of his books. He says he gives away 20 percent of his income to famine relief organizations, but he is certainly living on a sum far beyond $30,000. When asked about this, he forthrightly admitted that he was not living up to his own standards. He insisted that he was doing far more than most and hinted that he would increase his giving when everybody else started contributing similar amounts of their incomes. There is some question as to how seriously one should take the dictates of a person who himself cannot live up to them. If he finds it impossible to follow his own rules, perhaps that means that he should reconsider his conclusions. Singer would no doubt respond that his personal failings hardly invalidate his ideas.Does the fact that Singer does not practice what he preaches mean that his ideas should not be taken seriously? Do his personal failings cast doubt on the cogency of his arguments? Or is Singer right in saying that his personal failings do not invalidate his ideas?
Thursday, November 29, 2012
[PL 431] Practice What You Preach
In the introduction to his interview with Peter Singer, Ronald Bailey writes: