Famous Thinkers Essay Sample
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Famous Thinkers Essay Sample
Famous Thinkers: Peter Singer and Bill Gates
A thinker is an individual who reasons intellectually; this individual generally shares his views and theories with other thinkers and with society. The contributions made to humanity can be valuable and frequently encourage others to ponder the same issues. Other thinkers may become supporters or challengers to another. There have been many famous thinkers that have influenced society; I will be examining two men who have contributed to our culture, Peter Singer and Bill Gates.
Peter Singer’s philosophies are controversial although he is considered an intellectual thinker. He contributed to society much of his time and his own money as an active founder of the modern animal rights movement and his work in bioethics (Duignan, 2013). Singer’s philosophy centers on utilitarianism. In his book Practical Ethics he claims his reasoning of utilitarianism captures the general nature of ethics when compared to other practices and the concept that ethics requires thinking of more than your own interest. Equal consideration must be given to everyone’s interests (Free Republic, 2006). His philosophical theory on poverty and famine is reflected in his writings on the East Bengal people who were dying from lack of food, shelter, and medical care in 1971. He states “The decisions and actions of human beings can prevent this kind of suffering. Unfortunately, human beings have not made the necessary decisions. At the individual level, people have, with very few exceptions, not responded to the situation in any significant way” (Singer, 1972, p. 229). Considering the moral implications and the lack of action by affluent countries there is no explanation. Singer called for us to obtain a new way of looking at moral issues, to develop a new structure of moral thoughts because the way of life at that time was taken for granted in our society (Singer, 1972).
Singer applied his utilitarian principles to this case bringing about the concept any action becomes a duty if it will avoid more pain than it causes or cause more happiness than it prevents. The general philosophical implication weakened his larger traditional argument of duty and charity (Duignan, 2013). Another controversial issue was Singer’s defense of infanticide; in 1993 Peter Singer suggested “that no new born should be considered a person until 30 days after birth and that the attending physician should kill some disabled babies on the spot” (Klusendorf, 2009, p. 1). As Singer goes on to explain the concept of personhood he states self-awareness is part of the concept but does not tell us why, he just states that it is. Doing this he exposes the doctrine known as functionalism, the belief that what defines a human person is what and what they cannot do. “Instead of upgrading the fetus to the status of a person, however, Peter Singer downgrades the newborn to the status of nonperson because newborns, like fetuses, are incapable “of seeing themselves as distinct entities, existing over time” (Klusendorf, 2009, p. 1). I believe Singer’s ethics to be fully utilitarian; outcomes of actions determine if they are right or wrong. Actions are considered to be right if they increase happiness and decrease pain for the greatest number of people. Singer was attempting to determine what was morally or ethically right for society if we consider his stand against poverty and famine or his dedication to the animal rights movement.
The support of these movements were righteous things to do and to speak out about, although his reasoning and philosophical approach was unreasonable and senseless. I believe his critical thinking process contained many flaws. His use of logical conditional statements was not practical and often did not fit the issue at hand. He was bold and assertive with his ideas and was not concerned how society would take his controversial views. It seemed Singer did not think of reasons others may oppose his ideas or who he needed to persuade. His initial views on specific topics may have been sound or at least sensible but once he applied his utilitarian reasoning I do not believe there could not have been any acceptance of his creative solutions and views. He assumed his ideas were clear to him so they were also clear to others. Bill Gates founded Microsoft at the age of twenty-one with his friend Paul Allen when they acquired a software program, modified it, and named it MS-DOS. When IBM took MS-DOS as its operating system for its personal computers the future for Bill Gates was shaped. Other computer manufacturers tried to imitate IBM resulting in Gates’ software sourced globally. In the 1990’s Gates was consulting other countries and corporations pursuing better applications of information technology.
Gates published two books in the mid 1990’s, The Future and The Road Ahead. Both books implied he desired to be taken seriously as a social visionary. Gates lived modestly even with his wealth. He dressed casually just as his employees did and used commercial airlines instead of a personal jet. Gates was living life modestly (Oxford Reference, 2013). Gates had personal ambitions of his own, he saw the future optimistically. He stated in an article “I’ve always been an optimist and I suppose that is rooted in my belief that the power of creativity and intelligence can make the world a better place” (Gates, 2005, p. 1). Gates believes computers are remarkable tools that could be used to feed curiosity and creativity and in doing so solve problems people could not do on their own. He also said there are other things we can do using creativity and knowledge to improve our world. There are many people in the world who live without their basic needs being met. People die from diseases that are easy to treat and prevent in developed countries such as ours.
His thinking states “I believe that my own good fortune brings with it a responsibility to give back to the world” (Gates, 2005, p. 2). He founded the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, a foundation that partners with organizations worldwide to challenge serious problems. The foundation works with the poor and poverty, harness advances in science and technology to save lives in countries that are still developing, and improve U.S. high schools and post-secondary education (Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, 2013). In 2008 Bill Gates also warned us on the economy and said consumers were living on borrowed time, the U.S. faces a recession with unemployment as high as 9%. Harvard Magazine stated “Gates challenged businesses to go beyond giving cash or matching employees’ charitable contributions. Instead, he said, companies should devote 5 percent of their innovative people resources to solving the problems of the world’s poor—who are their future customers” (Cash, 2008, p. 2). Bill Gates avoided obstacles that could have affected his critical thinking process. His biggest obstacle, wealth and status in the world, could have made it very easy for him to ignore the problems of the world; he stimulate his mind and imagination to produce ideas to help people on the other side of the world. It is clear that Gates looked closely at his ideas and solutions and refined them when necessary. He considered the economy, convenience, simplicity, and durability. He also compared his products to others in the market.
His goal was to produce the best product possible. He reinvested profits to continue to enhance his products. Gates’ personal ambitions, his curiosity, creativity, and innovation coupled with his inner need to help those that others have forgotten created an honorable lifestyle to live by. Peter Singer and Bill Gates have two uniquely different creative processes. I believe Singer uses judgment which has not been examined or investigated properly. He does not use the creative thinking process entirely and decides a solution prematurely then expects us to understand his reasoning. A simple example would be John has two cats, Bob has three cats, and Jane has one cat. John, Bob and Jane’s cats are all grey therefore all cats are grey. It may be true for these particular six cats but we know it is not true for all cats. Gates carefully examines problems or needs and uses knowledge and the creative process thoroughly. I believe Gates refines his solutions to the extent he eliminates any flaws. His inner ambition to do good for others stimulates his creativity and fuels it to the end. Gates thinks of others and how they will view his solutions. Bill Gates takes pride in his work and it can be seen in his results.
Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, (2013). What we do. Retrieved from http://www.gatesfoundation.org/What-We-Do Cash, J. (October 13, 2008). Bill Gates on “creative capitalism”. Harvard Magazine. Retrieved from ttp://harvardmagazine.com/2008/10/bill-gates-on-creative-capitalism Duignan, B. (2013). Encyclopedia Britannica.