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Bill Gates
Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons
“The moral equivalent is, we’re going to take 1 per cent of the people who visit this [museum] and blind them. Are they willing, because it has their name on the new wing, to take that risk? Hmm, maybe this blinding thing is slightly barbaric.”
Bill Gates, Microsoft Co-Founder, on giving money to art museums
Source: Wall Street Journal November 21, 2013
Say What?

Quoting from an argument advanced by moral philosopher Peter Singer, Gates questions why anyone would donate money to build a new wing for a museum rather than spend it on preventing illnesses that can lead to blindness.


As one commentator  said, “Mr. Gates would do well to find a better guru than Mr. Singer, whose greatest-good-for-the-greatest-number approach to moral philosophy (if you want to call it that) has led him to advocate, among other horrific things, what he politely calls “permissible infanticide.” It strikes me that Mr. Gates might possibly want to be a bit more careful about the intellectual company that he keeps. More to the point, though, it seems clear to me that Mr. Gates thinks it immoral for rich people to give money to museums instead of medical projects, presumably those that have received the official Bill Gates Seal of Moral Approval.”


As a general rule, smart people who drop out of Harvard, like Mr. Gates, don’t need college. But in this case, Gates is really missing out on some basics of moral philosophy and logic. Is he really suggesting that giving money to museums is the moral equivalent of blinding children? Following this kind of logic one could assume that any personal consumption item beyond basic needs is the moral equivalent of blinding children. So, with his huge mansion and many sports cars and other indulgences, how many children has Mr. Gates blinded?

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