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Famine, Affluence, and Morality by Peter Singer

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    Famine, Affluence, and Morality by Peter Singer

    The Elements of Reason #8

    1. Use two or three sentences to state the main purpose or argument in this article. In other words, what is the argument the author is making? (This should be a specific argument. We all know that the authors are writing about morality and ethics.)

    The main purpose or argument in this article is that Peter Singer believes that richer nations should give assistance to other nations who are in need, in order to prevent unnecessary suffering and death. He used the situation in East Bengal in 1971 as an example for when he argued that no nations at the government level had given the sort of massive aid that was required to help the refugees survive for any extended period of time. He also argued that human being’s at the individual level weren’t doing enough either, because according to him not enough of them had been donating large sums of money to relief funds.

    2. What support or reasons does the author use to prove his/her argument? List at least three here with quotes.

    Singer backs up his argument by giving examples of a couple nations that had donated a certain amount of relief funds and then compared that number to the amount of money those same nations spent on, according to him, “unnecessary things”. He used an example of Britain donating 14,750,000 pounds, but pointed out that they were also currently working on a transportation system that would cost them an estimated 440,000,000 pounds when it was all said and done. His conclusion for this was “the implication is that the British government values a supersonic transport more than thirty times as highly as it values the lives of the nine million refugees”
    (Singer, Pg. 721). In my personal opinion that is the most moronic statement I think I’ve read in this entire textbook so far. He also uses Australia as an example. Singer points out that Australia donated “amounts less that 1/12th of the cost of Sydney’s new opera house” (Singer, Pg. 721). This is a much more valid argument in support of his point. The argument against Britain’s transportation system doesn’t hold much water since that is something that probably greatly improved their country and was greatly needed. The argument about Australia donating less than 1/12th of what they were putting into one of the new opera house’s was much stronger because something as frivolous as an opera house should never be placed above the life of a person regardless of the circumstances.

    3. The main assumption(s) underlying the author’s thinking is (are): (Remember an assumption is something not stated, an underlying belief the author holds.)

    The main assumption underlying the author’s thinking is that Singer believes that if it is within an individual’s or government’s power to prevent suffering, or save lives that it should be done no matter what the circumstances or costs just so long as the reasons for doing so are not morally skewed. “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, Pg. 722). 4. Relate this article to at least two of our class readings and any theories discussed in class thus far. (Kant, Mill, Aristotle, Utilitarianism, Consequentialism, Virtue Theory, Ethical Egoism, etc. Please reserve your discussion to the philosophers and not the generic discussion of the issues.) 200 words minimum.

    It seems that Singer was influenced or motivated by Utilitarianism to a certain degree in this article, although he never comes out and fully endorses it. I also believe that this article can be related a bit to consequentialism as well in that the moral rightness or wrongness of an action is determined by the goodness or badness of the states of the world they are likely to bring about. This article is similar to Utilitarianism
    in that he argues that one should always morally do whatever would prevent the greatest amount of bad from occurring and in a sense would be for the greater good of everyone. How it differs though is that he says this act should not occur if the only way to prevent the bad is by doing something morally wrong. Basically as an example he’s saying if you can prevent people from starving, but the only way you could do so was by lying or stealing, then it shouldn’t be done.

    5. Give your point of view on this topic. Use key class vocabulary AND quotations from the reading with commentary when relating to this subject. 200 words minimum.

    (What is my reaction to what the author(s) is saying? Do I believe what the author is telling me? Why? Why not? {Be sure to give your reasons for why or why not.} Do I have another resolution to or perspective on this problem? Or include any question that will stimulate your creative commentary.)

    I understand %100 the point that Peter Singer is trying to get across, but I don’t necessarily %100 agree with it. I do agree with his stance to a certain extent that “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, Pg. 724). We as people should help others in need to a certain point, I just don’t agree with the extreme extent in which he tries to shove down our throats. He states that as long as we aren’t sacrificing anything of moral importance that there’s no reason we shouldn’t do it. Basically he’s saying that we should donate all of our income aside from the things that we need to live like pay rent, buy food, pay the bills etc. to poverty and famine relief. So he basically wants everyone to lower their income, after all of their donations, to the level of the global poor. While I get his point, it is obviously inconceivable to ask every person to give away all of their disposable income and not keep any of that hard earned money to spend on some needs and pleasures for themselves. Even Singer has admitted that he only gives away 1/3rd of his money to charities and could probably do more. So when this
    author is telling me to give away all of my “unnecessary” income to the less needy and he can’t even “walk the walk” so to speak, then I really have a hard time buying in %100 to what he’s trying to preach.

    This essay was written by a fellow student. You may use it as a guide or sample for writing your own paper, but remember to cite it correctly. Don’t submit it as your own as it will be considered plagiarism.

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    Famine, Affluence, and Morality by Peter Singer. (2016, Dec 07). Retrieved from

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