Peter Singer is the Ira W. Decamp Professor of Bioethics at Princeton University, and Laureate Professor at the University of Melbourne. He is the author of Animal Liberation, the editor of In Defense of Animals: The Second Wave, and, with Paola Cavalieri, co-editor of The Great Ape Project.

The Death of Aaron Swartz

Access to the Internet, and the prosecution of Aaron Swartz for the crimes he was alleged to have committed in advancing that cause, are not the only, and perhaps not even the most important, issues raised by Swartz’s death. A third is depression.

The Troubled Life of Nim Chimpsky

Joyce Butler speaking in sign language with Nim Chimpsky, 1970s
“Men have forgotten this truth,” said the fox. “But you must not forget it. You become responsible, forever, for what you have tamed.” —Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince Perhaps Herbert Terrace, professor of psychology at Columbia University, and director of the experiment that is the subject of Project Nim, …

The Troubled Life of Nim Chimpsky

Laura-Ann Petitto signing with Nim

Project Nim, a new documentary by James Marsh, tells the sad story of a scientist’s irresponsible treatment of Nim, the chimp he tamed—or more strictly, whose upbringing in a human family he organized—and it raises important issues about the distinction between humans and animals, about our attitudes toward animals, and about scientific objectivity (or the lack thereof) in behavioral research.

Animal Liberation at 30

The phrase “Animal Liberation” appeared in the press for the first time on the April 5, 1973, cover of The New York Review of Books. Under that heading, I discussed Animals, Men and Morals, a collection of essays on our treatment of animals, which was edited by Stanley and Roslind …

Bandit and Friends

In describing Beyond Beef as “the most disturbing indictment of the beef industry” since Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle, the publisher in fact understates the importance of Jeremy Rifkin’s new book. Eighty-five years ago Upton Sinclair disclosed that the meat Americans were eating could be disease-ridden, and that its unhealthy condition …

On Being Silenced in Germany

Some scenes from academic life in Germany and Austria today: —For the 1989/1990 winter semester, Dr. Hartmut Kliemt, a professor of philosophy at the University of Duisburg, a small town in the north of Germany, offered a course in which my book Practical Ethics was the principal text assigned to …

Salt of the Earth

Henry Salt called his autobiography Seventy Years Among Savages. [^1] It tells of a life lived entirely in England. As one might therefore guess, Salt’s writings were not well received when they appeared, during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Now George and Willene Hendrick have done Salt a …

Unkind to Animals

Now I know something of how American Indians and Trobriand Islanders must feel. I have been a subject of “ethnographic” research by a postdoctoral fellow in anthropology at the University of California. Not in person, admittedly, for I was not privileged to be one of the nine animal rights activists …

Unspeakable Acts

Elaine Scarry and Edward Peters both teach at the University of Pennsylvania—she teaches English, and he medieval history. Peters has just published a history of torture, and Scarry a book that takes torture as its starting point. There the resemblance ends. Peters has written a straightforward historical account of torture, …

Ten Years of Animal Liberation

The rise of the animal liberation movement, in the view of a number of commentators, is to be traced back to the publication of my essay “Animal Liberation” in these pages just over a decade ago. That essay was followed by the book of the same title, which was also …

Sex & Superstition

Germaine Greer’s The Female Eunuch was perhaps the most brilliant, and certainly one of the most influential, of the wave of feminist books that appeared in the early 1970s. As the title suggested, Greer pictured women as pressured into a stereotypical female role which effectively castrated them, forcing them to …

The Future of Baby Doe

One month after the premature birth of her son Andrew, Peggy Stinson wrote in her journal: What threatened to be a simple, private sorrow has changed unexpectedly into something so altogether different, so altogether complicated that thoughts and feelings tangle hopelessly and give no guidance. Andrew is not our baby …

Revolution and Religion

We all know the parallels, popularized in The God That Failed and so many other places, between Marxism and religion. Primitive communism represents the lost Eden, capitalism the present vale of tears, Marx is the prophet and his writings the sacred texts, while communism, of course, is heaven on earth.