Ethics: Foreign Aid

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Morality and ethical theories are attempts at guidelines that help define most every aspect of human nature. Understanding the differences between right and wrong has captured the minds of the worlds greatest thinkers for thousands of years. Even with so much effort being provided to the study of ethical behavior, we are still on unsound ground. Philosophers all over the globe continue to provide new ethical insights, and they determine their findings to be new standards for universally moral truths. One of many explored issues in ethics is that of Social Policy. Those who philosophically examine social policy review and make judgments on issues dealing with human welfare. With many philosophical inputs being provided to issues regarding social policy many disputes begin to arise. The debate between Peter Singer and James Shikwati over foreign aid and the distribution of aid to nations facing famine, shows a dichotomy in opinion with each man holding views on either side of this social political spectrum. While Singer and Shikwati both make great points in regards to their beliefs, there has to be something that can be done without arriving at either extremity. Foreign aid to countries in need should be limited, while making sure is is used for the right purposes. Rather than giving away an excessive amount of money and material goods, developed nations should be promoting the internal advancements of countries in need. One dispute over social policy is that of foreign aid. It is not clearly known how much aid should be given, which method of delivery will produce the greatest outcome, or if t is even a moral obligation to provide foreign aid to countries facing famine. University of Princeton professor Peter Singer is a man who dedicates his life to famine relief. Singer believes that it is the duty of relatively affluent nations to keep foreign nations from every facing poverty (Sommers 188). It is necessary that we reevaluate our whole moral concept and construct it in a manner in which we are morally obligated to “prevent what is bad, and not promote what is good.” (Sommers 188) According to the utilitarian views of Singer, people in a position to help famine victims are bound by moral duty to do whatever can be done, and more, to ensure the safety and well being of people facing poverty. In his essay “Famine, Affluence, and Morality,” Singer chooses to focus on refugees of East Bengal in 1971. In this eastern state at the time in Bangladesh there were over 9.5 million refugees (Luthra). Over 65,000,000 pounds of aid money was being sent to help these starving refugees; we were not close in our efforts to relinquish these people from suffering (Sommers 188). If our efforts were not close to being sufficient, then what could we have done? Peter Singer would have it that we give up everything we can, up until the point of marginal utility. To this extent every person whom is capable to help morally ought to give to the point until by giving more, begins to cause suffering to ones self. If everyone were to act in such a manner, we would redistribute all the wealth in the world, and eliminate poverty, even if it rendered us to a life of near refuge. Singer comes to this conclusion based on one premise: suffering and death from lack of food, shelter, and medical care are bad. As this is a predominantly accepted view, then it is up to the people who can help to perform actions that in themselves promotes a moral good capable of stopping a bad thing from happening (Sommers 188). this would mean that instead of buying a five dollar cup of coffee from Starbucks, we should give our five dollars to famine relief (Kaitz). By spending money on coffee, we are behaving in a manner that does not function in providing for the most good. Giving way with our material goods and valuables allocated aid to areas of need. There is no excuse as to why we should not take this moral understanding and put it into...
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