B.A. (Hons), M.A., B.Phil., FAHA, FASSA is a
humanist and philosopher.
He is the Ira W. DeCamp Professor of Bioethics
Princeton University, and laureate professor at the
Centre for Applied Philosophy and Public Ethics,
University of Melbourne. He specializes in
practical ethics, approaching ethical issues from a
preference utilitarian, perspective.
Peter studied law, history and philosophy at the University of Melbourne, gaining his degree in 1967. He then received an MA for a thesis entitled Why should I be moral? in 1969. He was awarded a scholarship to study at Oxford University, obtaining a B.Phil in 1971 with a thesis on civil disobedience, supervised by R. M. Hare, and subsequently published as Democracy and Disobedience in 1973.
After spending two years as a Radcliffe lecturer at University College, Oxford, he spent a year as visiting professor at New York University. While in New York he wrote his second book, Animal Liberation (1975). He returned to Melbourne, teaching initially in the philosophy department at La Trobe University and then as chair of philosophy at Monash University in Melbourne. He founded the Monash University Centre for Human Bioethics and was its director for several years. He moved to Princeton University in 1999.
Outside academic circles, he is best known for his book Animal Liberation, widely regarded as the touchstone of the animal liberation movement. Together with Paola Cavalieri, he founded the Great Ape Project, which seeks basic rights for non-human great apes.
In 2004 Peter was recognized as the Australian Humanist of the Year by the Council of Australian Humanist Societies and was included in The Time 100, Time Magazine’s list of the world’s most influential people in 2005. He is a Fellow of the Academy of the Humanities in Australia and of the Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia.
His books include, in addition to those already mentioned, Practical Ethics, The Expanding Circle, Marx, Hegel, Rethinking Life and Death, Writings on an Ethical Life, and One World. Among books he has edited are A Companion to Ethics and In Defense Of Animals: The Second Wave. His latest book (coauthored with Jim Mason) is The Way We Eat: Why Our Food Choices Matter.
Read the transcript of Peter’s interview on the subject of One World: The Ethics of Globalization, and on the subject of Global Responsibilities: How Can Multinational Corporations Deliver on Human Rights?. Listen to his lecture Changing Ethics For a Sustainable World. Watch his discussion with Adrienne Asch on Ethics, Health Care and Disability and his lecture Ethics in Genetics.