Practical Ethics

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For the topic of practical ethics, see Applied ethics.
Practical Ethics
File:Practical Ethics, 1980 edition.jpg
Cover of the 1980 edition
Author Peter Singer
Country United States
Language English
Subject Ethics
Publisher Cambridge University Press
Publication date
1979 (first edition)
1993 (second edition)
2011 (third edition)
Media type Print (hardcover and paperback)
Pages 395 (second edition)
ISBN 0-521-43971-X (second edition paperback)

Practical Ethics (1979; second edition 1993; third edition 2011) is an introduction to applied ethics by bioethical philosopher Peter Singer. The book, which has been translated into a number of languages, caused outrage in German-speaking countries.


Singer analyzes, in detail, why and how beings' interests should be weighed. In his view, a being's interests should always be weighed according to that being's concrete properties, and not according to its belonging to some abstract group. Singer studies a number of ethical issues including: race, sex, ability, species, abortion, euthanasia, infanticide, embryo experimentation, the moral status of animals, political violence, overseas aid, and whether we have an obligation to assist others. The 1993 second edition adds chapters on refugees, the environment, equality and disability, embryo experimentation, and the treatment of academics in Germany.[1][2] A third edition published in 2011 omits the chapter on refugees, and contains a new chapter on climate change.[3]


Practical Ethics is widely read and was described as "an excellent text for an introductory ethics course" by philosopher John Martin Fischer.[4] Philosopher James Rachels recommended the book "as an introduction centered on such practical issues as abortion, racism, and so forth."[5] Philosopher Mylan Engel called Practical Ethics "must reading for anyone interested in living an ethical life."[6]

The book caused outrage in Germany, Austria and Switzerland.[7][8]


  1. "Review of Practical Ethics by Peter Singer". 2006-09-20. Retrieved 2009-05-22. 
  2. "Practical Ethics 2nd edition". Retrieved 2009-05-22. 
  3. "Cambridge University Press". Retrieved 2011-03-17. 
  4. Fischer, John Martin (1983). "Practical Ethics by Peter Singer". The Philosophical Review. 92 (2): 264. 
  5. James Rachels (2003). The Elements of Moral Philosophy, Fourth Edition. p. 203. 
  6. Engel Jr., Mylan (2011). "Review of Practical Ethics, 3rd Edition by Peter Singer". The American Journal of Bioethics. 11 (12): 73. 
  7. "The Dangerous Philosopher" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2006-09-21. Retrieved 2009-05-22. 
  8. "Practical Ethics". Retrieved 13 November 2015. 

Further reading

External links