Topics: Morality, Famine, Utilitarianism Pages: 5 (1658 words) Published: June 5, 2013
Famine Is Not A Charity Case

John Lim


Instructor McCart


Famine Is Not A Charity Case

Peter Singer wrote this paper in Philosophy & Public Affairs to bring up two issues of the refugees in East Bengal. The first is about how the refugees are being deprived of food, shelter and medical care. Singer’s moral values come from the lack of humanity shown from India and the lack of aid funds from other countries such as Britain and Australia. The second, he believes that it is our moral responsibility to prevent bad things from happening, if it can be done without any sacrifice of comparable moral importance. (Singer, 1972, p. 231) So if it is in our power to prevent a bad thing from happening, Singer believes it will not sacrifice anything of comparable importance. Therefore, we must prevent the shortage of food, shelter, and medical needs. Peter Singer’s last argument states how we should do more to prevent the suffering by changing the way we need to think about charity. The assignment will provide Singer’s support of his premise as well as his counterargument from the objections. Singer’s premise and conclusion to famine can coincide with each other. The issue in East Bengal is overwhelming for India’s government. Although India receives aid from other countries, it is still insufficient to provide the adequate care for the refugees admitted into the country. He claims that “The World Bank has said that India needs a minimum of £300,000,000 in assistance from other countries before the end of the year.” He goes on to say that “India will be forced to choose between letting the refugees starve or diverting funds from her own development program, which will mean that more of her own people will starve in the future.” (Singer, 1972, p. 230) His stance on if everyone giving £5 to a relief fund would be enough to care for the refugees’ needs. Therefore, he should not have to give more than everyone else, although he will have to. In conclusion, he knows under circumstances not everyone will contribute money so there will not be enough to fund for the Bengal Relief. (Singer, 1972, p. 233) This charitable act under Singer’s perspective is praised but not condemned. Singer also explains that affluent countries are capable of doing more for countries that are struggling with providing for their own citizens and alien residents.

There were readers that objectified Singer’s premise to his argument. Even though people know that famine and poverty is bad as Peter Singer suggest, there are very few philanthropists in this world. The naysayers believed that his argument has or is subjected to flaws. One objection is how one’s responsibility to aid those who are suffering cannot be prevented if people who are in a situation to assist them are not doing anything, since other people who do nothing, is no different than people who do something. Singer answers this objection by the example of saving a child’s life, if that child was drowning in a pond. Guardian states that people lack the morality as people think it is too demanding. “And in times past (and, given climate change, perhaps future) famines have been so severe that preventing others from starving to death might require each of us to starve ourselves almost to death.” (Goodin, 2009, p. 9) People who have not experienced starvation and poverty, will not be concerned too much for people that are in that situation. Singer would claim, why it needs to go to that extreme. This issue of poor shelter, famine, and medical care do not need the personal touch of aiding the refugees. When location becomes a problem like most aid comes from, helping through a charitable act is just as helpful. The second objection from critics saying that donation is not a requirement to upholding high moral standards. That the proper government should be responsible for the refugees rather than working people that is not affected by...
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