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Famine, Influence And Morality Essay

1966 words - 8 pages

Philosophy 367/ Edwin England Writing assignment #1, February 6, 2002 Singer's article written in 1971 proclaims that we have a moral obligation to assist the needy. I feel that we do not have a moral obligation to assist the needy. Singer had many arguments throughout his article as to why we would have any moral obligation to assist the needy. I will counter his arguments in this paper.An average person's life in a developed country is wrought with pending responsibilities and obligations on a daily basis. Most reasonable people assume that these obligations are generally confined and pertain to one's own survival, the survival of one's dependents, and the professional tasks delegated by an employer in exchange for the funds to ultimately sustain this survival. The word "survival" suggests only a minimal existence, however, and the reality of the situation is that many people in developed countries attain a level of affluence that surpasses the boundary of mere survival and in some cases may even greatly surpass it. Many people would agree that they are unconditionally entitled to any luxuries procured by years of hard work and persistence in school and their career. Some may go so far as to say they are even absolutely entitled to any luxuries obtained by matters of chance, such as the lottery and these claims seem to make sense from a superficially intuitive point of view.In Singer's article, he lists some statistics related to the famine in East Bengal that affected nine million people as an example of a crisis of great magnitude that most people around the world were familiar with at the time. He then goes on to debate the moral implications of affluent individuals in developed countries not taking the necessary action to help relieve the famine and suffering.The particular situation in East Bengal he briefly discusses is only meant as an example, and Singer's views and arguments can be generalized to other situations involving famine. Singer believes that the wealthy people and nations of the world should give the amount of monetary funds necessary to end famine and suffering because it is possible, and the amount of money needed would be insignificant to the world compared to the lives that would be saved. In general, if it is in one's power to prevent something bad from happening without sacrificing something of comparable moral importance, then one is morally obligated to take action. This is referred to as Singer's strong argument and a distinction must be made here to clarify what is meant by comparable moral importance. Singer means it is appropriate to take action based on his conclusion as long as that action does not cause something else comparably bad to happen, or that action is not morally wrong in itself. An example that might help further illustrate this distinction is a scenario in which one ought to give money to starving individuals as long as it is theirs to give. In other words, stealing from the rich to give to the...

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