Journalists have bestowed on me the tag of “world’s most influential living philosopher.” They are probably thinking of my work on the ethics of our treatment of animals, often credited with starting the modern animal rights movement, and with the influence that my writing has had on development of effective altruism. I am also known for my controversial critique of the sanctity of life ethics in bioethics.
Several key figures in the animal movement have said that my book Animal Liberation, first published in 1975, led them to get involved in the struggle to reduce the vast amount of suffering we inflict on animals. To that end, I co-founded the Australian Federation of Animal Societies, now Animals Australia, the country's largest and most effective animal organization. My wife, Renata, and I stopped eating meat in 1971.
I am the founder of The Life You Can Save, an organization based on my book of the same name. It aims to spread my ideas about why we should be doing much more to improve the lives of people living in extreme poverty, and how we can best do this. You can view my TED talk on this topic here.
I was born in Melbourne, Australia, in 1946, and educated at the University of Melbourne and the University of Oxford. After teaching in England, the United States, and Australia, in 1999 I became Ira W. DeCamp Professor of Bioethics in the University Center for Human Values at Princeton University. Since 2005 I have combined that role with the position of Laureate Professor at the University of Melbourne, in the School of Historical and Philosophical Studies. One of the big attractions of being in Melbourne is that Renata and I can spend time with our three daughters and four grandchildren. We also enjoy hiking, and I surf.