Peter Singer, the pseudo-philosopher whose baby is Sapientism was not answered with a competent argument at the Oxford Union debate about whether it is moral to be a billionaire. Again, he can’t break himself out of mainstream liberal democratic thought which, ironically, makes his thoughts of little utility to the saving of liberal democracy. John Stuart Mill posited that morals are deduced by whichever rules contribute to the most happiness. Peter Singer believed in Lockean arguments but with some positive liberties. He was stuck in Enlightenment era deontology and could not imagine a morality based on something other than natural rights.
The question of whether it is moral or not to be a billionaire is best answered with the fact that empiracally we know that at a level of wealth, it is practically impossible to abate mass human suffering.
Now, “billionaire” is, perhaps, not the best term to debate since in Weimar Germany, Venezuala, or anywhere with hyperinflation, it may be a basic human right to be a billionaire. While good for clickbait, it would have been better to use percentage of GDP per bracket or ratio of the highest to the lowest percentiles in terms of relative wealth and income.
The question should have been framed is that in a society that seeks to minimize human suffering and maximize human happiness is there a a ratio of wealth and income and GDP breakdown among the brackets which is ideal. And if there is one, should society and its institutions orient themselves to pursue those metrics or do the deontological rights to property and person outweigh those as aims. The question is whether an emergent moral derives from the utilitarian aim of reducing suffering and increasing happiness.
Peter Singer is a firm believer in deontology. He believes in rights and that’s about it. Of course, Sapientism is based on the idea that natural rights correspond with intelligence. In the early 1990s, he was ran out of a German professorship because of the genocidal eugenics potential of his philosophy. Children’s rights apparently increase with their brain development ergo shooting up a preschool is not as bad as sooting up a college. Neurodiversity isn’t a question and if they have an intellectual disability then they are worth less as humans than if they don’t. It is a recipe for a social darwinism where the strong dominate and euthanize the weak.
Peter Singer’s answer to all of that is, of course, that practically, his ethics just leads to a more vegan version of normal liberal democracy. Sure, it could be taken to logical conclusions and extremes but he doesn’t. That an orthodox interpretation of his philsophy is not that scary. Yeah, it may result in some light eugenics but it would look just like normal society. That may be true but then that makes him a mostly useless philosopher with some light bad stuff. My first answer to any Sapientist is ethical intuitionism that something that feels Nazi is probably evil so let’s assume it is. That, in part, because if we remove humanity then everything is gone which is why humanity holds a special place. Then the appropriate compassion he and others have for other species will not exist and no one will love the animals because there will be no animal capable of love.
Peter Singer is a philosopher who invented faster horses. That comes from the Henry Ford quote “If I had asked people what they had wanted, they would have said ‘faster horses’.” Lacking the creativity to qualitatively attack the question of contemporary ethics, he just took what existed and quantitatively expanded it like Francis Fukuyama saying history ended with the French Revolution and after that it was merely a matter of extending rights. He applied the ideas of liberal democracy to other species then to rationalize that he came up with Sapientism. Which is how he ends up defending property rights like he’s John Locke when asked whether it is moral to be a billionaire.
Ultimately, it does not matter if a rule contributes to human happiness and the reduction of human suffering or not to Peter Singer. That’s a utilitarian question. Peter Singer’s main philosopher is John Locke with some positive liberties and the core of his philosphy can lead back to free market capitalism. In the end, a capitalist can lawyer their way through deontological rights in the tradition of John Locke. The fundamental morality of his system is capitalism and is the ethics upon which capitalism is based. Sapientism is a Lockean, capitalistic, philosophy whose etiology is Lockean property rights.