Bob is close to retirement. His proudest possession is a very rare vintage car,
a Bugatti, worth two hundred thousand dollars. Its rising market value means
that he will be able to sell it and live comfortably after retirement. It also is
something that he puts a lot of time into maintaining, polishing, and taking
out for drives in the country. Unfortunately, it is so expensive that no one
will insure it for him. He takes a risk every time he drives it, but he thinks it’s
worth doing; he doesn’t like the idea of the car just being a museum piece.
One afternoon Bob takes the Bugatti out and drives it to a place where
he often likes to park. It is a good spot for going for a walk, along a disused
railway siding. He parks his Bugatti, and walks up the siding, normally a
pleasant, quiet stroll. But today, as he comes to the point where the disused
siding meets a major line, he looks up and he notices, to his surprise, that
there is a train coming down the line. He is surprised because no trains are
Peter Singer is the Ira W. DeCamp Professor of Bioethics in the University Center
for Human Values at Princeton University. His books include Animal Liberation,
Democracy and Disobedience, Practical Ethics, The Expanding Circle, Marx,
Hegel, Animal Factories (with Jim Mason), The Reproduction Revolution (with
Deane Wells), Should the Baby Live? (with Helga Kuhse), How Are We to Live?,
Rethinking Life and Death, Ethics into Action, A Darwinian Left, One World,
Pushing Time Away, The President of Good and Evil, How Ethical Is Australia?
(with Tom Gregg), The Way We Eat (with Jim Mason), and The Life You Can Save.
He was the founding president of the International Association of Bioethics, and
with Helga Kuhse, founding coeditor of the journal Bioethics. He is the cofounder
and honorary chair of The Great Ape Project, an international effort to obtain
basic rights for chimpanzees, gorillas, and orangutans.