Professor Peter Singer doesn’t “think a museum should purchase a $100 million work of art when that money could restore sight to 2 million people by funding their cataract surgery” (Life of the Mind, March 4).
This facile comparison obscures many things that charitable dollars can and should do even just in the domain of sight. Shouldn’t we want to develop the capabilities in people that sight confers? Given sight (whether or not enabled by medical interventions), should we not want to spend money to teach people to read, to enable them to appreciate the beauty in art and nature, and perhaps even to create beautiful things? One might even want to spend money on museums. These might well be moral obligations.
Editor’s note: The author is a former president of the University of Chicago and the Mellon Foundation.