Posts Tagged 'animal rights'

Peter Singer on Effective Altruism

Peter Singer (by Derek Goodwin for the New York Times)

Peter Singer (by Derek Goodwin for the New York Times)

With the humanities under assault from those who confuse the higher purpose of higher ed with vocational training for a high-paying career, philosophy majors need to be especially thick-skinned these days. Or maybe deep pocketed, since the market value of deep thinking is deeply discounted in today’s economy. Only a philosopher could construct a logical argument for why an undergraduate degree in philosophy might be worth as much as one in, say, economics or engineering. After all, if colleges are to be evaluated and ranked, and their endowments plumped up, by the earning power of their alumni, they can hardly fault their debt-saddled students for choosing majors with the maximum income potential. These days, studying philosophy amounts to taking a vow of poverty, unless you plan to go to law school, but the job prospects for young lawyers are much diminished, too. Continue reading ‘Peter Singer on Effective Altruism’

Real Cowgirls Wear Vegan Boots

Ingrid Newkirk won't have blood on her hands

Ingrid Newkirk won’t have blood on her hands

I went to hear Ingrid Newkirk, the president and founder of PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals), speak in Cambridge recently. I went because I was curious to learn about the animal rights movement from Newkirk herself, the organization’s star spokeswoman whose media stunts dramatizing animal abuse and suffering at the hands of humans have been enormously effective – and highly polarizing. I was surprised that the audience wasn’t younger or larger, given Newkirk’s celebrity and the growing awareness (at least here in the People’s Republic) that animal rights activists can no longer be dismissed as a bunch of cranks who throw red paint at women in fur coats. Continue reading ‘Real Cowgirls Wear Vegan Boots’

Only a Hat?

Investing meaning in an object is a risky proposition, not least because losing the object poses an existential danger beyond its material worth. And, of course, making assumptions about a person’s values based on, say, what they are wearing can be misleading.

And with these caveats in mind, I present Exhibit A: a mink hat that, for me, is freighted with meaning and weighted with contradictions.

Cecily Rocks The Hat (1999)

When I acquired The Hat in 1993 I could not have predicted that, 18 years later, it would become a potent symbol of my own personal and political evolution. At the time, I was a young mother living in Manhattan. My regular route between our apartment and my son’s nursery school took me past an upscale thrift shop on Third Avenue, and one winter day I stopped in to browse. The Hat caught immediately my eye from inside a display case. I remember asking the sales lady to take it out, and hesitating when I saw the price tag: $75 was more than I was prepared to pay for an impulse purchase. But when I tried The Hat on I felt a sense of destiny; it fit perfectly, and the color of the fur exactly matched my hair. Sold! I wore it home. Continue reading ‘Only a Hat?’


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