Peter Singer's new book on effective altruism takes the old notion of a vow of poverty, giving up one's wealth to serve others, and subtracts God and neighbor from the equation.
"Do you think the suffering of human beings is more important than the suffering of other animals? Do you think it’s valuable to know the people who run a charity you support? Do you think it’s reasonable to relieve the suffering of Americans, even before every person in other countries escapes extreme poverty? Do you respect someone who donates to cancer research after a spouse dies of the disease?
"In his new book, controversial bioethics professor Peter Singer argues that these views and behaviors are mistaken. His outlook is based in utilitarian philosophy, whose reigning principle is “the greatest good for the greatest number.” This sounds sensible enough on its face, but it has proven to be a way of thinking about the human condition that leads to a dangerous cold-bloodedness, enabling its adherents to advocate for things such as (in Singer’s case) eugenics and infanticide. Under the mantle of altruism, utilitarians divide the world into enlightened beings who can calculate the greater good and lesser mortals whose personal judgments just get in the way."--Scott Walker, Philanthropy Roundtable