Have one to sell? Sell yours here
Sorry, this item is not available in
Image not available for
Image not available

Tell the Publisher!
Id like to read this book on Kindle

Don't have a Kindle? Get your Kindle here, or download a FREE Kindle Reading App.

Practical Ethics [Paperback]

Peter Singer
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)

Available from these sellers.


Amazon Price New from Used from
Hardcover --  
Paperback --  
Paperback, 29 Jan 1993 --  
There is a newer edition of this item:
Practical Ethics Practical Ethics 5.0 out of 5 stars (5)
In stock.

Book Description

29 Jan 1993
Peter Singer's remarkably clear and comprehensive Practical Ethics has become a classic introduction to applied ethics since its publication in 1979 and has been translated into many languages. For this second edition the author has revised all the existing chapters, added two new ones, and updated the bibliography. He has also added an appendix describing some of the deep misunderstanding of and consequent violent reaction to the book in Germany, Austria and Switzerland where the book has tested the limits of freedom of speech. The focus of the book is the application of ethics to difficult and controversial social questions.

Product details

  • Paperback: 396 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press; 2nd edition (29 Jan 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 052143971X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0521439718
  • Product Dimensions: 2.5 x 14.4 x 21.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 153,728 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

More About the Author

Discover books, learn about writers, and more.

Product Description


From a review of the first edition 'Singer's book is packed with admirably marshalled and detailed information, social, medical, and economic, and has a splendid appendix of notes and references to further reading. The utility of this utilitarian's book to students of its subject can hardly be exaggerated.' New York Review of Books

'Peter Singer has provided us with a good example of the fruits of a major and by now established extension of philosophical interest. He succeeds in being straightforward, clear, and forceful without oversimplifying the technical aspects of the problems he discusses or trivialising the underlying philosophical issues.' The Times Higher Education Supplement

'Excellent and highly provocative.' Choice

Book Description

Peter Singer's remarkably clear and comprehensive Practical Ethics has become a classic introduction to applied ethics since its publication in 1979 and has been translated into many languages. The focus of the book is the application of ethics to difficult and controversial social questions.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
biological explanations of differences between males and females. Instead I shall ask what the implications of the biological hypotheses would be. Read the first page
Explore More
Browse Sample Pages
Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
Search inside this book:

Sell a Digital Version of This Book in the Kindle Store

If you are a publisher or author and hold the digital rights to a book, you can sell a digital version of it in our Kindle Store. Learn more

What Other Items Do Customers Buy After Viewing This Item?

Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
33 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Possibly the world's most important book 27 Jun 2005
I first read Practical Ethics twenty-five years ago, and have re-read it, including the later expanded edition, several times. It is an amazing book, because it quietly, calmly and rationally tears apart most of our conventional views about what is right and wrong, particularly in the areas of abortion, euthanasia, our treatment of animals, how we should respond to global poverty and what responsibility we have towards future generations. Singer is currently a professor at Harvard, and is probably the world's most influential writer on ethics. Certainly, Practical Ethics is the most important book that I have ever read, and I urge you to read it, too.
Singer does not pre-judge anything: he challenges us to throw away assumptions such as 'all human life is sacred' and he exposes the unjustifiability of many of the conclusions that we imagine follow from the differences between people and other animals. He uses logical argument to make us realise that if we want to be moral, we need to fundamentally change many of our attitudes.
Singer uses detailed scientific facts as well as moral argument to explore how we should behave, and comes to many controversial conclusions. He has been accused, wrongly, of being hostile to the rights of people with disabilities, but in fact he is a persuasive advocate for ending all unfair discrimination, and for valuing the comparable interests of all sentient beings equally, even when those sentient beings are not people.
I do not agree with everything in Practical Ethics (though I suspect that when we disagree, it is Singer who is right!), but reading it has still managed to change my life in many ways. Be prepared for a challenging and wonderfully stimulating read.
Comment | 
Was this review helpful to you?
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Valuable but still controversial 16 July 2008
The title of this book is most apt. Singer presents his view of ethics by considering practical situations that may present moral dilemmas. He arranges the chapters so as to provide progressive examples in which he puts forward a coherent, if in places controversial, approach to ethical behaviour. Chapter headings are:

1. About Ethics
2. Equality and its Implications
3. Equality for Animals?
4. What's Wrong with Killing?
5. Taking Life: Animals
6. Taking Life: The Embryo and the Fetus
7. Taking Life: Humans
8. Rich and Poor
9. Insiders and Outsiders
10. The Environment
11. Ends and Means
12. Why Act Morally?
Appendix: On Being Silenced in Germany

For me Singer's style isn't always easy to read. Of course one expects somehwat convoluted sentences in philosophy books but it could, IMO, benefit from an effort to tidy up the worst specimens. Apart from that, given the task that the author sets himself, the overall balance of the book is IMO nicely judged.

As to Singer's ethical position, I have my doubts. His concept of ethical personhood is made to bear, IMO, more than it reasonably can. It distinguishes between sentience and self-awareness and accords a self-aware being greater ethical consideration than a purely sentient one. He could, IMO, make stronger arguments for his positions from the Bhuddist principle that ethical behaviour is that which tends to reduce the suffering of any sentient beings. To my mind this makes many of his arguments in Chapters 4 to 7 open to significant criticism.

He mentions Hare's concepts of intuititive and critical ethics but does not develop them.
Read more ›
Comment | 
Was this review helpful to you?
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Practical ethics 25 Feb 2011
By Mark
Peter singer is one of the best thinkers of or time!
I would recommend this book.
The best way I could explain would be having an opinion but thought it out ethically and morally !
Comment | 
Was this review helpful to you?
5.0 out of 5 stars Provocative, at least as in thought provoking 26 Feb 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Singer deals with some difficult issues from a utilitarian perspective; abortion, euthanasia etc. The only missing part, as I remember, is the question concerning when/if the utilitarian approach is not admissible - are there certain things one shouldn't do?
Comment | 
Was this review helpful to you?
3.0 out of 5 stars A not entirely practical set of ethics 10 Nov 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I read this as an undergraduate in philosophy over 30 years ago and returned to it as research for my own book of ethics 'Natural Ethics'. There is a lot to be said for the humane aspects of the ethics propounded is this book, but the inherent inhumanity of utilitarianism raises questions as to how 'practical' Singer's ethics are when human beings are not on the whole given to rational responses to moral situations. It makes sense to adopt such ethics if one ignores the emotional and psychologically subjective responses to moral choices that human beings are on the whole naturally disposed to make. Even after 30 years I found it easy read, again, and it's well written and logically 'bolted together' as one would expect from such a deservedly eminent modern philosopher.
Comment | 
Was this review helpful to you?
5.0 out of 5 stars Everyone should read this book 20 Feb 2013
As a preference utilitarian i found this book coherent and logical, no greater testament can be made to its sound logic than the fact that i became a vegetarian because of this book.
Comment | 
Was this review helpful to you?
Would you like to see more reviews about this item?
Were these reviews helpful?   Let us know
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Search Customer Reviews
Only search this product's reviews

Customer Discussions

This product's forum
Discussion Replies Latest Post
No discussions yet

Ask questions, Share opinions, Gain insight
Start a new discussion
First post:
Prompts for sign-in

Search Customer Discussions
Search all Amazon discussions

Look for similar items by category