Helping People in Need a Supererogation or an Obligation

Topics: Morality, Ethics, Moral psychology Pages: 5 (2104 words) Published: March 27, 2013
Helping people in need
a supererogation or an obligation

People in poor nations are starving to death when we are enjoying our delicious meal with our friends and family. There are various governmental aid-projects and privately run charities which are responsible for delivering donations from the relatively wealthy nations to the nations in need. I believe it is a morally right thing to help the people in need, but not every one of us would make donations regularly. Peter Singer uses the drowning child example to make people rethink about this current scenario. He believes that it is our obligation to help the people in poor developing countries. There are objections to his stance, but before considering and discussing from both sides, I am now going to describe and explain the Singer's drowning child example first. Imagine a child is drowning in a shallow pond and saving the child’s life means jumping into the pond and thereby getting one’s clothes wet and muddy. Would you still save the child? All of those having a rational mind will say yes. In spite of the bad consequence of fouling the clothes, saving the child’s life is morally what we ought to do as the importance of the child’s life so far outweighs the little cost of getting one’s clothes wet and muddy. It is within our power to prevent the child’s death without sacrificing something that is of even greater importance. Thus, this is what we ought to do and it is our obligation to prevent something this bad from happening (Singer, 1997). Even when there are other people near the pond who are equally qualified of saving the child but are doing nothing but simply passing by, would you still jump in and save the child? Similarly, all of those being asked said yes. It simply does not make any moral difference to the situation. Undoubtedly, not saving the child in this situation might make one feeling less guilty but everyone thinks that we ought to save the child. We agree that this is our moral obligation and it would be wrong not doing so (Singer, 1997). Then what if the child were being far away, maybe even in another country? Would people still hold the same stance? The answer is yes. Distance and nationality do not make not saving the child just. Whichever child or even adult, if saving his life is what we are able to do without having something of great significance to us being sacrifice, we ought to do that. This is morally what we ought to do without violating other things that are of similar or higher moral importance (Singer, 1972). The situation of the drowning child example is actually synonymous with those hungry children and adults suffering from famine or other disasters, both natural or man-made. If we agree that saving the child that are drowning in a pond is morally what we ought to do and not doing so is unjust, then why should we think otherwise when it comes to helping the people who are suffering in poor developing countries? Why does making regular donations to nations in need not our moral obligation whereas saving the child drowning in a pond is? We have agreed that distance and nationality does not matter in this moral stance. Moreover, the problem of being too far away from the sufferers and we might not be able to come to their aid in time has been overcome by the effort of charities. What is it that stop us from making regular donations? There are explanations to this bipolar situation, giving reasons to help better understanding the causes leading to this global scenario. First of all, saving the drowning child is helping out directly, while making a donation is not. The donation will be distributed to the people in need through the government or some privately run charities. Some of the donation will be used for administrative cost or get swallowed up in corruption. People will never know how much of their donation can really be given to those in need. As corruption is usually a prevalent problem in many of the developing countries,...
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