Famine, Affluence, and Morality

Only available on StudyMode
  • Download(s) : 340
  • Published : June 11, 2005
Open Document
Text Preview
"Famine, Affluence, and Morality"

In "Famine, Affluence, and Morality," Peter Singer is trying to argue that "the way people in relatively affluent countries react to a situation… cannot be justified; indeed,… our moral conceptual scheme needs to be altered and with it, the way of life that has come to be taken for granted in our society"(Singer 230). Peter Singer provides striking examples to show the reader how realistic his arguments are. In this paper, I will briefly give a summary of Peter Singer's argument and the assumptions that follow, adding personal opinions for or against Peter's statements. I hope that within this paper, I am able to be clearly show you my thoughts in regards to Singer.

Peter Singer organizes his arguments into an outline form allowing a reader to take individual thoughts, adding them together giving a "big picture." Within the first few pages, Singer shares two guiding assumptions in regards to his argument to which I stated above. The first assumption states "that suffering and death from lack of food, shelter and medical care are bad" (231). Singer steps away from the typical writing style; he states the assumption yet he does not give a personal comment in regards to the assumption. He chooses to do so because the assumption itself is surely uncontroversial; most people would agree, but to those who don't agree, there are so many possibilities at which to arrive to this assumption that, after all, if they don't yet comprehend its truth, it would be hard to convince them of its accuracy. Speaking for myself, if I encountered an individual that does not agree to the assumption that death by avoidable causes is bad; I would not hesitate to declare them of being heartless. There are many cases, whether across oceans on foreign land or areas to which we live, where people are dying because of inescapable, unfortunate reasons. Within such cases, even a possible little voice in the back of the head can lead one to wonder who has the responsibility of helping those who are enduring such unnecessary deaths. This sense of wonder leads us to Singer's second assumption; "if it is in our power to prevent something from happening, without thereby sacrificing anything of comparable moral importance, we ought, morally, to do it" (231). To better clarify what this assumption is looking for, Singer points out that "It requires us only to prevent what is bad, and not to promote what is good, and it requires this of us only when we can do it without sacrificing anything that is, from the moral point of view, comparably important" (231). I like how Singer further clarifies his assumption, making it easier for me to understand what seems like a specific instruction "manual" of what we presume to be doing. Although we might sometimes wish that we could ignore certain things in our life, it would be nearly impossible for an individual, or government, to certify being unaware of the happenings to which I have been discussing.

With Singer's second assumption, it could seem at first that it attempts to make the reader feel guilty. But if we choose to look closer, we can see its "flaws." Singer gives us two suggestions that make his assumption even more complex to deal with; he gives us the flaws. His first argument says, "The principle takes no account of proximity or distance" (231). He is trying to imply that an excuse claiming that the sufferers are too far away to be able to help is an unacceptable excuse. Our world has become so much more technologically advanced in so many different ways, it has made possible to communication with the other side of the planet. Singer refers to it as a "global village," it then reminds me how connected we can be to other areas of the world, therefore making me question why people can't use that "global village" to help others out. Why do so many people leave new technology unrecognized, ignoring the chance to save someone? I often find myself...
tracking img