Famine, Affluence, and Morality
Prof. Patricia Addesso
February 25, 2013
Based on the article by Peter Singer entitled Famine, Affluence, and Morality, he attempts to move us to do more for charities and gives one astounding example. He uses starving children in Bengali and a drowning child. He argues that people have many different reasons to [delete] why they do not donate. His vision is that the people and the government should take care of the problem. He uses a great illustrative imaginative scenario. Basically, let’s say you are walking down the path by the local pond. You have just purchased a brand new pair of running pants worth $100. You see a young child drowning and screaming for help. You have a moral obligation to save that childs[‘s] life and you will sacrifice your brand new pants without question. The child’s life is worth more than your new pair of pants and you do not hesitate to ruin them for the child. Singer says it best, “if it is in our power to prevent something very bad from happening, without thereby sacrificing anything else morally significant, we ought, morally, to do it.” (Singer, 1972) He is basically saying that if by saving that child you do not sacrifice anything, in this case the rescuer’s life, of equal moral importance you should do it. This is where it gets interesting. He presents the idea that by the same token if you could give up the value of the clothes you were wearing to save that child’s life, you should be willing to donate that same value to a child who needs that as well. In his article he uses the Bengali children as an example. Singer states, “For the principle takes, firstly, no account of proximity or distance. It makes no moral difference whether the person I can help is a neighbor's child ten yards from me or a Bengali whose name I shall never know, ten thousand miles away.” (Singer, 1972). For Singer to say that, he is stating that no matter if you know the...
References: Peterson, M. (2004). Foreign Aid and the Moral Value of Freedom. Ethical Theory and Moral Practice, 7(3), 293-307. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/27504317
Singer, P. (1972). Famine, Affluence, and Morality. Philosophy & Public Affairs, 1(3), 229-243. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/2265052
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