PHI200: Mind and Machine
April 19, 2013
Singer’s goal in the article “Famine, Affluence and Morality” is to get people to think differently about famine relief, charity, and morality. These are key issues that people need to be more aware of and act on them. People who are financially stable and well off should take more of an active role by giving more. They should feel obligated in helping those in need. There are many people suffering severely, those who can help are doing nothing. People should be more willing to give help rather than being obtuse & self-centered. Singer argues it is wrong for a person to suffer from homelessness, hunger, or lack of medical attention. These needs are essential in life and without them can alimentally lead to one’s death.
Another argument Singer gives is if a person is wealthy, they are more than capable to help others financially. They need to feel obligated to do so. Instead of a person spending money on extras and materialistic items for themselves, they should donate that money to the poor. The money should help with necessities for the poor and uplift them. On the same point he points out, one should not sacrifice if it would put them in harm’s way. Singer’s concept of marginal utility is that one should give as much as possible to the unfortunate; it should never create a hardship to the giver. This would be doing more harm than good. When a person contributes to the poor, it should not financially affect their lifestyle by putting them in debt, homeless, or without food. People that are wealthy and well off should donate to the people that are unfortunate and suffering. It would be morally correct to help the less fortunate. An argument Singer makes is the distinction between a duty and charity. He states, “That a duty is an action that is an obligation and charity is an action of something that is good to do but not obligated” (Singer, 1972, p. 232). An example he gives is if a child were drowning, it would be a person’s duty and obligation to help to save the child from drowning. Singer questions why this is any different from charity. Charity is “generosity and helpfulness especially toward the needy or suffering; also : aid given to those in need” (Dunignan, 2013). Singer feels that people that have the means and are able to help by giving money to the poor should feel obligated and it be there duty. They should be obligated to do this because it is a person’s duty to help others from suffering. He does not understand why a person should feel they have a choice to prevent help suffering, it should be a duty that we have an obligation to do. An argument I would have with Singer is about being fair and right. I do not agree that all people need to be obligated to give away their hard-earned money to the poor. I would agree that people who are born into wealth or have received a large inheritance should be obligated to donate and not the people that have worked many years to get to that state. People born into wealth or have received a large inheritance have been given a gift. Therefore, they should be inclined to share the gift by giving some of the money to the poor. (If money is a gift to a family or they were born into it, they should donate and give to the poor. They did not work for the money it was a gift, therefore a person should feel obligated as their duty to give to the poor.) People that are well off because of many hours or having multiple jobs should not have to give their money away to the poor. They have worked hard to receive it so they would not have to live paycheck to paycheck. I think these types of people have earned the right to live comfortably and do what they want with their money. They have put the time and work into making the money and it should be theirs to do what they want. “Famine, Affluence, and Morality” was written in response to an immediate...