Kant vs. Singer

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November 29, 2012
Singer VS. Kant
Duty can be defined in numerous ways but what is difficult to know is what our moral obligations are? Immanuel Kant and Peter Singer have attempted to find a more simple, rational, and supreme rule for what our duty is. Singer makes the distinction between charity and duty.  He attempts to show that we, in affluent countries such as the United States, have a moral obligation to give far more than we actually do in international aid for famine relief, disaster relief and much more. According to the reading, Singer believes we need to drastically change our way of life in order to help others. He is making the argument that “if it is in our power to prevent something bad from happening, without thereby sacrificing anything morally significant, we ought, morally, to do it (231).” And he defines “bad” as “suffering and death from lack of food, shelter, and medical care (231).” The example he offers is a situation in which a little girl is drowning in a shallow pond. One can easily rescue her, but doing so would wreck one’s new fifty-dollar shoes. Singer believes that morally, one needs to go in and save the girl. Anybody who would walk by and refuse to save her would be considered a horrible person. Then, he continues and introduces a different moral situation. A little girl is starving in a poor country. One can easily spend fifty dollars to save her life, but then one cannot use that money to purchase a new pair of shoes. Again, one is faced with a choice; do you save the little girl or buy new shoes? He believes that there is no moral difference between these two cases. In conclusion, he is saying that as a moral obligation, you should save the little girl in Africa instead of buying the new pair of shoes. People in affluent countries can prevent people dying from starvation by giving more money to famine relief without sacrificing anything morally significant. Therefore, they should. He believes that no matter how close or...
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