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Stallwood on Singer on Pinker

I have known Peter Singer since the late 1970s and greatly admire and respect him. His influence on my understanding of animal ethics is significant. This does not mean to say that I agree with everything he says. Because I don’t. In truth, there isn’t anyone who I agree with completely, including myself!

Given my earlier post expressing my disappointment in Steven Pinker’s new book, The Better Angels of Our Nature, I was intrigued to read Peter’s review in The New York Times.

I’m not surprised Peter liked the book because Steven credits him as a major influence; however, I was surprised to read him say Steven has a

command of so much research, spread across so many different fields, is a masterly achievement.

Mmmmmmmmm….that may well be true but, sadly, it wasn’t true enough with respect to his research on Hitler and vegetarianism and the Third Reich and animal rights.

I would have liked to have seen Peter pick up Steven on this inaccuracy — even more so because he has written about his family’s escape from Nazi Germany and his grandparents death in concentration camps (See Pushing Time Away: My Grandfather and the Tragedy of Jewish Vienna).

 

 

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  1. Mark
    December 11th, 2011 at 17:20 | #1

    Steven Pinker is very sloppy in his writing. I highly recommend Christopher Ryan and Cacilda Jetha’s book “Sex at Dawn,” which has a section destroying Pinker’s previous claims about the high level of violence among early humans. While I haven’t read the new book yet — I just got it — it would seem that its entire basis is already undermined.

    • December 13th, 2011 at 09:15 | #2

      Many thanks for this comment. I’m not aware of the work of Ryan and Jetha and look forward to learning more about it. I’m still reading Pinker’s book excerpt by excerpt. Clearly, some interesting, good bits; nevertheless, still worried by the Hitler-was-a-vegetarian quality of the research.

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