Despite its importance, philosophy is generally not seen as a lucrative profession. May be the Berggruen Prize will change that. This is US $ 1 million given annually to a thinker “whose ideas have profoundly shaped the understanding of oneself and the advancement of man in a rapidly changing world.”
This year it was awarded to controversial Australian bioethicist Peter Singer for his inspiring work on animal ethics and effective altruism.
In some quarters, Singer is often criticized for being a utilitarian – but the judges awarded him the award precisely because he is a utilitarian: and as a force for change in the world.
Describing himself as a consequentialist, Singer believes that actions should be judged by their predictable results. His practical arguments are based on rigorous utilitarian reasoning, which sees the well-being of strangers to be just as important as that of oneself and one’s own family. His elaboration of this philosophical approach led him to take a stand on issues ranging from factory farming to the global system that keeps billions of people in poverty.
Apparently, Singer’s views on abortion, infanticide, and euthanasia did not detract from his accomplishments.
The singer plans to donate half the price to The Life You Can Save, a charity he founded to spread the idea of effective altruism.
The Berggruen Prize was launched in 2016 as a kind of Nobel Prize in Philosophy. Previous winners were Canadian philosopher Charles Taylor, bioethicist Onora O’Neill, philosopher Martha Nussbaum, United States Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and public health advocate Paul Farmer.
(Sorry, we missed this one, which happened in September.)