Free Essay

Famine, Affluence, and Morality

In: Philosophy and Psychology

Submitted By greatmastermind
Words 933
Pages 4
RUNNING HEAD: FAMINE, AFFLUENCE, AND MORALITY 1

Famine, Affluence, and Morality
Keith Campbell
PHI 208 Ethics and Moral Reasoning
Instructor Ronald Davenport
June 30, 2013

FAMINE, AFFLUENCE, AND MORALITY 2 Peter Singer argues what the moral implications of any situation like this and how people all around the world sit back watching while little is being done to help, and many of innocent people die without a care in the world. While we all know people dying from starvation is bad, the moral thing to do is help as long as it does not cause harm to others, why should we sit back and do nothing. The goal in this article is to get people all around the world to realize the magnitude of the issues that people are dying of things that we at home take for granted, such as, the lack of food, shelter, and medical care. These things are vital to the survival of humans no matter where they live and what the state of their government is in. Singer also argues how affluent nations respond to situations such as the one in Bengal and presents us with a view of the moral issues at hand. The first counter argument is that according to Singer, (1971) “the view that numbers do make a difference”. This view implies that a wealthy person donates five dollars to help those suffering in Bengal the money would add up if everyone gave this amount. This would require no one to give any more than another in the same financial position; this is based off a hypothetical situation. Singer also states that this idea would not work because no one would give more than the five dollars, and by doing so he could help more people find adequate food, shelter, and medical care.

FAMINE, AFFLUENCE, AND MORALITY 3 The second counter argument is people do not judge the way he initially thought they should. Most people tend to keep their opinions about how they judge others to themselves unless an extreme moral code is overstepped, it is generally thought that most wealthy people do not think it is a bad thing to buy expensive things like cars, furniture, and electronics. While there are homeless people standing on a corner they drive by everyday on their commute to work: Singer’s response to this argument is “unless that principle is rejected, or the arguments are shown to be unsound, I think the conclusion must stand however strange it appears. It might, nevertheless be interesting to consider why our society, and most other societies, do judge differently from the way I have suggested they should”. Singer, (1971). The third counter argument is that distance is not morally relevant, with modern means of donating and the logistics of getting aid to the people in need is easy compared to what it used to be also it implies that distance should not matter when lives are in danger and you are not the closest to what is happening. Singer uses the example of a child drowning in a pond, his point is it should not matter who it is or if you are among many others you are morally obligated to help that person as long as you are not causing harm to yourself or others that is worse than the person you are helping. Also, he states that we are more likely to help if it is someone we know personally rather than a stranger.

FAMINE, AFFLUENCE, AND MORALITY 4 Singer’s concept of marginal utility and how it relates to his argument, marginal utility is people in affluent countries are morally obligated to do everything in their power to relieve the suffering of victims of starvation, even if it means drastically changing their lives. Meaning that we should give until we are in a situation as bad as the victims, this relates to Singer’s argument because it upsets the distinction between duty and charity. Compare how the ideas of duty and charity change in Singer’s proposed world. Singer believes that it is our duty to help others in need so long as it does not bring harm that is worse than those we are helping. This is the argument that we should try to save the lives of others when we can do so at little cost to ourselves. Also Singer thinks it is not charitable or generous but is the duty of every well off member of every country, and it would be simply wrong if we did not. My personal response to Singer’s argument is I agree that it should be our duty to help others but not until we share the same situation. I have been struggling for as long as I can remember to work and pay my bills, just to keep a roof over my families head and there have been a number of times when I could have used help and no one helped me out. I still think that we should give at least ten percent of what we make to charity. My preference is what Christians call tithing, I give my ten percent to the church who is better aware of the situations of families in need and can distribute the funds accordingly. I truly believe that if every family did this, there would be lots of money to help those in need of food, shelter, and medical care.

REFERENCES 5
Mosser, K. (2010). A concise introduction to philosophy. San Diego, CA: Bridgepoint Education, Inc.
Singer, P. (1972). Famine, affluence, and morality. Philosophy and Public Affairs, 1(3), 229-243.…...

Similar Documents

Free Essay

Famine

...Understanding Famine: Entitled failure, Food Availability Decline or something else? Famine is defined in the dictionary as “extreme and general scarcity of food, as in a country or a large geographical area, any extreme and general scarcity, extreme hunger; starvation.” (Dictionary.com) Famines happen as a result of things such as Natural Disasters, Lack of rain/drought and not much money. Most droughts happen in the developing countries (Third world countries), which aren't economically successful and also near the equator (latitude), as their climate is very different. Amartya Sen’s paper “Ingredients of famine analysis: availability and entitlements” looks at other approaches of famine. The paper looks more into the command of food and the legal means in society more then the shortages and availability’s of food. Firstly Amartya Sen looks at the Availability approach: This looks directly into the availability of food. He highlights the main increasing problems with lack of food and confesses his concern on the continuation in famines. Sen seems to question the traditional definition of the Famine “extreme and general scarcity of food….”. Sen believes that starvation is directly as a result of people not having enough food and not the there is not enough food available to eat. If there is enough food available surely means that famine should not exist. Unluckily this is not the case and Sen’s paper continues and looks at the “Entitlement Approach”. The......

Words: 1746 - Pages: 7

Free Essay

Whose Job Is Famine Relief

...Whose Job is Famine Relief? PHI 208 Ethics and Moral Reasoning December 12, 2012 Everyday on television one will view several commercials about giving to another country, to help the starving children. When Peter Singer wrote his article in 1971“Famine, Affluence and Morality” he was able to give a disastrous review of what readers may ordinarily think about different things such as charity and famine relief and if it is moral. Why is there so much famine around the world? Some put blame on lack of food and shelter with no medical care. Others believe that if there was a population control put in place that this perhaps would solve the issue of famine, with as long as these severely poor countries are still giving birth to children, famine becomes a vicious circle. Is it really the obligations of those who live in wealthier countries to support those in other countries? Should these countries make sure their own people are taken care of first? This is the argument that Mr. Singer presents in his paper. One has the moral obligation is to help others in need whether it be a cup of coffee or assisting in drilling a well for water and no matter if they are next door or across the world. With three different premises and a conclusion Singer argues for relief. The first of the three premises is understood when Singer said “that suffering and death from lack of food, shelter and medical care are bad” (Singer, 1972, pg. 231). The next of these three......

Words: 1052 - Pages: 5

Premium Essay

Relativism and Morality

...Relativism and Morality Donna Hare Ashford University Introduction to Ethics & Social Responsibility SOC 120 Vahik Ovanessian November 25, 2012 Relativism and Morality In Lenn E. Goodman’s article “Some Moral Minima,” he argues that there are some things that are just wrong. I will discuss some of the issues discussed and give my opinion as to whether I agree or disagree with his opinions. Relativism in itself is whether an action is right or wrong that depends on the moral norms of the society in which it is practiced. What may be morally right in one culture can be viewed as morally wrong in another. In saying this, I do not believe that it will ever be possible to accomplish moral standards equally universally to apply to all people at all times. Different societies with their differences on moralism make it impossible to resolve moral disputes or to reach an agreement on ethical matters. The moral standards that each society practices really can only be judged by their own society. The areas that Lenn Goodman discussed is genocide, politically induced famine (depravation), germ warfare, terrorism, hostage taking, child warrior, polygamy, incest, slavery, rape, and female genital cutting. Lenn Goodman first discusses “Genocide, Famine, and Germ Warfare.” I agree with the statement that because murder destroys a human subject, it is wrong. I believe all societies know murder is wrong in of itself generally speaking. On the other hand, I......

Words: 2824 - Pages: 12

Free Essay

Peter Singer Famine

...Peter Singer – “Famine, Affluence, and Morality” Dora Crawford Prof. David Tredinnick 12/19/2012 When it comes to the article "Famine, Affluence, and Morality" mostly argues about not one but more than several things. In some point most people can agree with his arguments unlike others whom may not see his point of view. One of these arguments was lack of food. This was brought up or inspired by the starvation of Bangladesh his main focus was that if one can use one's wealth to reduce suffering for example, by aiding famine-relief efforts without any significant reduction in the well-being of oneself or others, it is immoral not to do so. According to Singer, such inaction is clearly immoral. If a child is drowning in a shallow pond and someone can save it but chooses not to; nor does placing greater geographical distance between the person in need and the potential helper reduce the latter's moral obligations. “It makes no difference whether the person I can help is a neighbor's child ten yards away from me or a Bengali whose name I shall never know, ten thousand miles away. The moral point of view requires us to look beyond the interests of our own society. Previously, this may hardly have been feasible, but it is quite feasible now. From the moral point of view, the prevention of the starvation of millions of people outside our society must be considered at least as pressing as the upholding of property norms within our society.” Singers......

Words: 1782 - Pages: 8

Premium Essay

Famine, Affluence, and Morality

...Famine, Affluence, and Morality Terry Simmons PHI 208 Instructor: Stephen Carter January 28, 2013 Famine, Affluence, and Morality Peter Singer opens his argument by introducing the reader to a famine in Bengal setting up his first premise stating “suffering and death from lack of food, shelter, and medical care are bad”. (Singer, 1972) Singer elaborates to say this is merely one point of view and that some “people can hold all sorts of eccentric positions, and perhaps from some of them it would not follow that death by starvation is in itself bad.” (Singer, 1972) He continues to say that for this discussion it will be assumed all accept the above argument. The next argument continues with “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). Singer gives an example of what this would entail, “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.” (Singer, 1972) He then points out that there are flaws in our way of thinking (Singer, 1972). The socially acceptable standard is that we would offer help to one who is physically near us, simply because of the close proximity. The flaw lies in the fact that we are less motivated to help someone who is......

Words: 918 - Pages: 4

Premium Essay

Famine, Affluence, & Mortality

...“Famine, Affluence, & Mortality” – Peter Singer Shelly Fowler PHI208 – Ethics & Moral Reasoning Instructor Robert Vaughan May 13, 2013 “Famine, Affluence, & Mortality” – Peter Singer Singer spoke about how this South Asian territory of Bengal was suffering from starvation. He sheds light on the devastating state of the Bengali people who were then known as refugees. The pressure is put on the reader to acknowledge not only the people who around you who needs help, but to assist people who you may not ever come in contact with as well. If the reader had not ever heard of the Bengal Relief Fund, they definitely left with the mindset of making a change to help these people whom they may never see in their lives. There were a few counter arguments that Singer faced within the reading. One was how wealthy countries should change their point of view in helping cripple and famine third world countries. He wanted to create a sense of urgency and loyalty to these people by shedding light on their lack of food, shelter, and medical supplies. Rich countries should take some form of accountability in helping these people even if it means they have to cut back on some of their own fibulas spending habits. Taking care of our own neighbor and forgetting about people whom we cannot see nor touch should be a thought process of the past. Our societies focus on the luxuries in life while we should be focusing on saving a life. Another counter argument Singer spoke upon......

Words: 1047 - Pages: 5

Free Essay

Famine, Affluence, and Morality

...Famine, Affluence, and Morality Famine, Affluence, and Morality In this article Peter Singer’s goal is to shed light and bring awareness to the way people in the world are suffering due to poverty and natural disasters. He also explains how many people struggle to survive because they live below the poverty line, some on a dollar a day. Singer makes the point that we should be doing more to help those who are not in the position to help themselves. By using Bengal as an example of how richer countries react to a disaster Singer is able to prove his point (Singer, 1972). Singer addresses the issues of why people do not donate. He says some people have the belief that it is the government’s responsibility to provide aid to those in need. He later states that it is a joint effort between us the citizens and the government to come to the rescue of those who are suffering. We live in a selfish society that believes that we should only take care of our own and not worry about others. Reliance on aid is one reason why people do not donate because they believe the society in need will become dependent on that service (Singer, 1972). In his article he also argues that people are morally obligated to prevent as least some suffering by personally taking action. Singer says that it is in our power to prevent bad things and we can prevent the without sacrificing anything of comparable moral importance. If we have the resources to do so, we the......

Words: 723 - Pages: 3

Premium Essay

Famine Affluence and Morality

...Famine Affluence and Morality Tammy Blankenship PHI Ethics and Moral Reasoning Christopher Ruth September 1, 2013 When reading the paper by Peter Singer Famine, Affluence and Morality, you are pulled in with the first sentence “People are dying in East Bengal from lack of food, shelter and medical care.” You are instantly searching your brain on how to fix the problem in East Berlin. As you read further down the page he tells you that it is the” decision and actions of humans beings that can prevent this kind of suffering” The goal of Singer’s Paper is to bring awareness to the hungry in other countries. He also wants to make you aware of what other nations donate to the dying in East Bengal. However, his main point is that the decisions and actions of other countries and humans that are willing to help can prevent this tragedy in East Bengal. Singer’s main argument in the paper is that humans’ suffering from starvation is bad and we could improve the world if we could improve these issues. Singer explains several counter arguments in his essay. The first one is, or moral conceptual scheme the way people in relatively affluent countries react to situation like the one in Bengal. With this first moral conceptual, he is stating that life in our society is being taken for granted and our moral compass needs to be altered. The second moral conceptual is that suffering and death from lack of food, shelter and medical care is bad. With this argument is using our moral......

Words: 855 - Pages: 4

Premium Essay

Famine, Affluence, and Morality

...Famine, Affluence, and Morality PHI208 Daniel Beteta March 25, 2013   Famine, Affluence, and Morality Giving to charity usually is viewed as a generous act, most people who give to charitable causes are held in high regard and thought of as good people, the question peter singer is asking us to consider in the article “Famine, Affluence, and Morality” is where is the moral grey area between charity and obligation when it comes to giving up what we have for others. Who in society decides what is good but not wrong to not do as charity is considered. I can achieve this by looking at Singers arguments, counterarguments and concept of marginal utility while comparing how duty and charity change in the article. The article opens by detailing the famine East Bengal is experiencing in 1971 in details and lists the causes of the Famine, and the number of refugees that amounts to roughly 9 million. Then he lists the affluent nations who are doing basically nothing to help these people, the citizens are not donating or protesting and the governments even if giving to the relief are not doing enough. “Generally speaking, people have not given large sums to relief funds; they have not written to their parliamentary representatives demanding increased government assistance; they have not demonstrated in the streets, held symbolic fasts, or done anything else directed toward providing there refugees with the means to satisfy their essential needs.”(Singer, 1972) From the start......

Words: 1245 - Pages: 5

Premium Essay

Morality Paper

...Helping Others Travis Heasley Ethics and Moral Reasoning: PHI 208 Craig Thompson 12/9/2013 Helping Others There are many places in the world that are not as fortunate as we are in this country and face issues that we cannot even comprehend as American citizens. “Famine, Affluence, and Morality” by Peter Singer is an article that talks about one of these issues that was affecting the East Bengal region of India in the early 1970’s. Singer was writing about how countries that have money can give relief money without affecting any projects that are of moral importance. Singer makes the point that “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 (Sing, 1972).” Which means as I said above that if we have a road project, that if not built, would not affect any moral issue in the country. Singer says if something is morally right then as a human-being we should do what is morally right and not worry about something that is not morally important. Singer is very passionate in this article and wants help for his cause. His goal is to have countries to give relief funds to refugees of East Bengal region in India. He says in the article that “Britain has given £ 14,750,000 to the relief effort but in comparison to the £ 440,000,000 they have used to fund the Anglo-French Concorde Project, which is for supersonic transport, means they value transportation over......

Words: 990 - Pages: 4

Premium Essay

Famine, Affluence, and Morality

...Famine, Affluence, and Morality PHI 208 September 2, 2013 Famine, Affluence, and Morality Peter Singer’s article, “Famine, Affluence, and Morality”, is both simplistic and unrealistic. Throughout this article Singer compares the ability to give to relief funds to a situation of coming upon a drowning child. Singer mentions arguments against giving to relief funds and then debunks the logic. Many feel the idea of giving to another country seems wrong when we have so many in close proximity to us, that also need help. As Signer said, the relief need of places such a Bengal is far worse than what we have in the United States. Any of Singer’s attempts to change the views of charity vs. duty seemed very radicle. To say we all have an obligation to assist in every situation is absurd. Everyone can agree that suffering and death from lack of food, shelter, and medical care is bad. If we have the power to prevent these bad things, are we not obligated to sacrifice everything we can to do so? This seems clear that morally we are obligated to prevent things we have the power to prevent. Yet there are so many situations that people make exceptions on and where morality and reason is challenged. Singer gives a scenario, a child drowning in a pond; you sacrifice the $70 worth of clothes that you are wearing to save the child. Then he says child in Bengal is in need of food, shelter, medical care, and $70 would go a long way for this child to also save its life. Yet people are less...

Words: 1424 - Pages: 6

Premium Essay

Famine, Affluence, and Morality

...Famine, Affluence, and Morality Giving to charity usually is viewed as a generous act, most people who give to charitable causes are held in high regard and thought of as good people, the question peter singer is asking us to consider in the article “Famine, Affluence, and Morality” is where is the moral grey area between charity and obligation when it comes to giving up what we have for others. Who in society decides what is good but not wrong to not do as charity is considered. I can achieve this by looking at Singers arguments, counterarguments and concept of marginal utility while comparing how duty and charity change in the article. The article opens by detailing the famine East Bengal is experiencing in 1971 in details and lists the causes of the Famine, and the number of refugees that amounts to roughly 9 million. Then he lists the affluent nations who are doing basically nothing to help these people, the citizens are not donating or protesting and the governments even if giving to the relief are not doing enough. “Generally speaking, people have not given large sums to relief funds; they have not written to their parliamentary representatives demanding increased government assistance; they have not demonstrated in the streets, held symbolic fasts, or done anything else directed toward providing there refugees with the means to satisfy their essential needs.”(Singer, 1972) From the start his first argument is that of the drowning child, he states that if he sees......

Words: 1235 - Pages: 5

Premium Essay

“Famine, Affluence, and Morality

...“Famine, Affluence, and Morality” PHI208: Ethics and Moral Reasoning (GSP1309J) Instructor: Kathleen Andrews November 10, 2013 In Peter Singer's "Famine, Affluence, and Morality", he argues that the way people in relative affluent countries react to a situation like that in Bengal cannot be justified. His reason for saying this is due to his belief in his principle "if it is in our power to prevent something bad from happening, without sacrificing anything of comparable moral importance, we ought, morally to do it". I disagree with his point of view and I will provide explanations as well as bring in my own arguments to show why I refuse to accept his said conclusion. Singer begins with the assumption that suffering and death from lack of food, shelter and medical care are bad. Therefore, according to his principle, we must to our best prevent situations such as that in Bengal where people die from lack of food, shelter and medical care, from happening without sacrificing anything comparably important. We could deny this assumption but in doing so, we would not be honest to ourselves. Assuming the Principle of Universalizability, he claims that it makes no moral difference whether the person I can help is a neighbor’s child ten yards away or a Bengali stranger who is ten thousand yards away. I will challenge this assumption by modifying his example: There are two people drowning in a pool, one is your cousin......

Words: 592 - Pages: 3

Premium Essay

Famine, Affluence and Morality Critique

...In his article “Famine, Affluence and Morality” Peter Singer gives a seemingly devastating critique of our selfish, self-centred ways of thinking about famine relief, charity, and morality in general. Not many people have accepted his conclusions which effectively state that those better off in life should as a matter of morality change their psyche and donate their excess wealth to the point of marginal utility and reduce their stature to that of others not well off and this is also the utilitarian principle. Singer gives the example of the Bengal famine of 1971 wherein over 9 million refugees suffered severely, neither governments nor individuals worldwide did anything near to what would be required to relieve it and this could not be condoned in terms of unawareness of the event, would my contribution be delivered to those in need who were very far away or arguments such as how can I as an individual make a difference if others are tight fisted and do not seem to care or consider it obligatory and also the root cause of suffering is population and famine is only an outcome so let us tackle and spend money on the root cause rather than the symptom. Singer puts forward two principles – first, suffering and death are bad and secondly if one is in a position to prevent a morally bad state of affairs, without sacrificing something of roughly equal moral importance, one should do so. He uses these to build the case that all of us including governments are not doing enough and...

Words: 325 - Pages: 2

Free Essay

Famine

...he Current Problem of Famine in Africa This paper is about two African third world countries that have serious problems with hunger, Ethiopia and Sudan. Looking at the people, the land, and the history in each country, a comparison will be made about the causes and effects of famine. Famine in Ethiopia and Sudan is apparently due to ethics, politics, and global weather patterns, but the specific causes of famine in these two countries differ greatly. Famine has stricken both Ethiopia and Sudan very harshly, with many people dying of starvation and others just waiting to die from the horrible hunger. Starvation threatens 365,000 people in Sudan, with the numbers just increasing, with no sign that they will stop increasing either (Nelan, 20). The whole country of Sudan is going through these troubles, but the famine is having its biggest impact in the Southwest and the Northern areas of Sudan (Nelan, 22). Throughout the whole country, 2.5 million square miles of land are empty, without crops that could hold valuable food for the starving people in Sudan. Those numbers are almost nothing compared to the country of Ethiopia though. It is estimated that in Ethiopia there are 4.6 million people starving or currently dead (www.news). Part of this is due to the fact that their crops became stunted drastically with the elongated dry season and an exceptionally short rainy season (www.news). All of these things make people miserable so they are forced to focus on other things to...

Words: 1603 - Pages: 7