Famine, Affluence and Morality

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In his ground-breaking essay on the effects of wealth and poverty on global society, Peter Singer juxtaposes the responsibility of the wealthy toward the less fortunate. Singer starts off by giving contrasting examples to the abject and severe poverty of third world countries and examples of the richer nations of the world. It is Singer’s assumption that the richer nations have a duty to help the poorer nations to develop into self sufficient societies. Singer goes on toe assert, that with the right assistance and the right guidance that even those on the lower levels of the economic totem pole can rise out of poverty. The gap between rich and poor is seen on an everyday basis on a local level, but becomes more pronounced as the richer nations are compared to the poorer ones. One of the prime examples of how the more advanced nations tend to have different values that the poorer ones is how the British government spent millions of dollars on developing supersonic transport but spent very little to assist third world countries in feeding refugees and the victims of natural disasters.

Singer takes the position that all developed nations share the responsibility of taking care of the less developed ones. His positions are refuted by three strong arguments against his opinion. These three arguments are:

• His opinion is too drastic a revision of the current moral scheme – This argument states that most people are firmly entrenched in their opinions as to how much help is enough and have already made up their mind as to how helping others fits into their moral scheme. Many people in developed nations feel that they are obligated to help others, but will only go as far as their moral development will allow them to. It is easy for those who have plenty to feel a sense of entitlement and expect that others can do the same if given the opportunity.

• The argument against utilitarianism – The utilitarian argument is that those whom are...
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