Famine, Affluence, and Morality

Topics: Morality, Ethics, Food security Pages: 4 (1238 words) Published: January 31, 2014

Peter Singer states that “if it is in our power to prevent something bad from happening, without thereby sacrificing anything of comparable moral importance, we ought, morally, to do it” (Singer, 1972). I believe Peter Singer has a desire to alter one’s view on the issues that are present at hand. The underlying issue that requires immediate attention is moral. “The unabridged way we look at moral issues – our moral conceptual scheme- needs to be altered, and with it, the way of life that has come to be taken for granted in our society” (Singer, 1972). The major issue, however, is the persuasion to take action against the starvation in Bengal; granted at the time; it was “the lastest and most acute of a series of major emergencies in various parts of the world” (Singer, 1972). Singer does not mixed words on his stance on the matter. He negated the route of being neutral. Paul Singer argued for the moral high ground, “we out to be preventing as much suffering as we can without sacrificing something else of comparable moral importance” (Singer, 1972).

Singer’s position is simply “suffering and death from lack of food, shelter, and medical care are bad” (Singer, 1972). No matter how one draws this conclusion, the statement is true. Some may agree and others may disagree, but it is impossible to dispute. Paul Singer reiterates the responsibility an individual has to sacrifice anything to possibly prevent bad things from happening; “without causing anything else comparably bad to happen, or doing something that is wrong in itself, or failing to promote some moral good, comparable in significance to the bad thing that we can prevent” (Singer, 1972).

Singer addresses objections to his conclusion. What about the distance between the action and the aid one could provide? “If we accept any principle of impartiality, universalizability, equality, or whatever, we cannot discriminate against someone merely because he is far away from us (or we are far away from...
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