Book Review

The President of Good and Evil: Taking George W. Bush Seriously by Peter Singer

The President of Good and Evil: Taking George W. Bush Seriously by Peter Singer

The President of Good and Evil is a peculiar read but one that is vital, I think, for anyone concerned with honesty and probity in Bush's Whitehouse, and in political life generally. Singer is probably most famous for his challenging views (espoused in books such as Animal Liberation and Rethinking Life and Death) on when and where sentience begins and ends, and hence when and where the rights associated with it should be granted.

Astonishingly clear in its line of argumentation, Singer here has decided to take George Dubya at his word and then investigate whether his words and actions unite in any kind of a coherent viewpoint. Singer does not do much to define ethics (an increasingly important aspect of modern philosophical debate: Simon Blackburn's Ethics: A Very Short Introduction is useful; Alain Badiou's Ethics an interesting contribution) but rather rests the majority of his case on Bush's own lack of consistency and logic. Singer clearly addresses the cynical view that Bush's proclamations need not ever be interrogated as he is merely, inevitably, spinning a politician's line. But Singer believes--line or not--that whether what is presented is logical, or right, is hugely important.

Singer has produced an excellent book. Plenty of facts and figures back up his case that "sincerely held or not, Bush's ethic is woefully inadequate" but this is never merely an empirical argument. Singer agrees with Dubya that ethics can be taught and that they can be evaluated. Bush, in Singer's well-documented evaluation, needs to get learning.

-- Reviewed by Mark Thwaite on 30/08/2005

Further Information
ISBN-10: 1862076936
ISBN-13: 9781862076938
Publisher: Granta Books
Publication Date: 17/04/2004
Binding: Paperback
Number of pages: 256

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