Animal rights activist and philosopher Peter Singer has won a well deserved prize of $1 million. The 2021 Berggruen Prize for Philosophy & Culture was awarded to Professor Singer for being an influential thinker whose practical ethics provided a framework for animal rights, effective altruism, and the global eradication of poverty.
Singer became one of the most influential people in the growth of the compassion for animals movement when he wrote the book, Animal Liberation in 1975. Since then he has been a proponent of animal rights and vegetarianism not only amongst the public but in academic circles as well.
In Animal Liberation, Singer argued that the pain and suffering inflicted by the current treatment of animals in food production and research is morally indefensible. Singer went beyond argument to direct action. He co-founded the Australian Federation of Animal Societies, now Animals Australia, the country’s largest and most effective advocate for animals. Working globally, he became a major intellectual force in the modern animal rights movement and related campaigns against factory farming and in favor of vegetarianism.
Singer explains that ”More than 50 years ago, I learned that many of the animals whose flesh I was then eating were condemned to miserable lives crowded into the dim sheds of factory farms. I became a vegetarian and wrote Animal Liberation, which in turn contributed to the rise of the modern animal rights movement. Factory farming remains a horror, ruthlessly exploiting tens of billions of land animals every year, and vast numbers of fish, too. Animal production is also a major contributor to climate change, and adds to the risk of pandemics. So I plan to donate more than a third of the money to organizations combating factory farming.”
We are glad that Singer has been given this recognition. We should all also be mindful that the younger animal rights activists stand on the shoulders of those who went before them. We hope his work continues to serve as an inspiration in the years to come.