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Global Poverty Essay

761 words - 4 pages

Peter Singer, in his influential essay “Famine, Affluence and Poverty”, argues that affluent people have the moral obligation to contribute to charity in order to save the poor from suffering; any spending on luxuries would be unjustified as long as it can be used to improve other’s lives. In developing his argument, Singer involves one crucial premise known as the Principle of Sacrifice—“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” . To show that such principle has the property to be held universal, Singer refers to a scenario in which a person witnesses a drowning child. Most ...view middle of the document...

According to Miller, affluent people do have duties to reduce their consumption level, but not at great risks or costs to themselves. One does not have to forgo all purchases on stylish clothes if doing so significantly worsens off his life by allowing no room for aesthetic appreciation. This is not to say that buying fashionable clothes at the expense of other people’s lives is justified; what it implies is that Principle of Sympathy gives consideration to an agent’s self-interest (and sometimes, his loved ones’ interests) when evaluating his behavior. Under Singer’s principle, however, every one’s interest counts equally.
Miller also disagrees with Singer on the role that distance plays in determining one’s obligation to aid the poor. For Singer, it makes no difference whether the needy are distant strangers or random people nearby. They deserve equal respect, and therefore, equal concern. One’s duty of beneficence does not vary upon distance, that is, how far away he or she is to the source of suffering; nor does it vary upon affinity---whether one has special tie to the needy. What is relevant to one’s obligation under rescue scenarios is the amount of help one is able to offer, the urgency of the situation and the relevant cost for the...

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