Famine, Affluence, and Morality

Topics: Ethics, Poverty, Morality Pages: 4 (1312 words) Published: December 15, 2013


Famine, Affluence, and Morality
Your name
PHI 208
Prof. John Doe
6 December 2013

In the article “Famine, Affluence, and Morality,” written by Peter Singer, Singer’s goal is to convince people that our decisions and actions can prevent other countries from suffering. He suggests that people should do what is morally right by contributing financially to aid those who are starving, rather than purchasing “wants” for those who can afford it. Singer argues his position, provides counter-arguments, and explains his concepts for aiding countries in need. Singer argues that people have not given enough in relief funds and that “governments have not given the sort of aid that would enable refugees to survive for more than a few days” (Singer, 1972). There are many parts of the world that are third-world countries. People are dying from malnutrition, starvation, and lack of medical care. Singer believes that “it is in our power to prevent something very bad from happening, without thereby sacrificing anything morally significant, we ought, morally, to do it.” However, if the expense in which we are contributing to aid puts us in a situation that will hurt us or our family, we should not follow through. An example that Singer uses to support his position is “if I am walking past a shallow pond and see a child drowning in it, I ought to wade in and pull the child out. This will mean getting my clothes muddy, but this is insignificant, while the death of the child would presumably be a very bad thing.” He states that regardless of where we are in the world, people should reach out to save the lives of others that are drowning. By “drowning,” I mean those who are suffering in their society. We should not take into account the distance or proximity if we can help people. A few of the counter-arguments that Singer addresses are: One, that the government will be less likely to take responsibility because private organizations are...

References: Mosser, K. (2010). A Concise Introduction to Philosophy. San Diego, CA: Bridgepoint Education, Inc.
Narveson, J. (2004). Is World Poverty a Moral Problem for the Wealthy? The Journal of Ethics, Vol. 8 No. 4 Springer Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/25115804
Narveson, J. (2004). Welfare and Wealth, Poverty and Justice in Today’s World. The Journal of Ethics, Vol. 8 No. 4 Springer Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/25115802
Singer, P. (1972). Famine, Affluence, and Morality. Philosophy & Public Affairs, Vol. 1m No. 3 Wiley. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/2265052
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