A Response to Singer on Famine, Affluence, and Morality

Topics: Life expectancy, Arithmetic mean, Poverty Pages: 3 (1052 words) Published: March 10, 2008
What do you think about the Singer article? Do you think he's right? Are we really morally obligated to give to relief efforts and other means of ending suffering until the point at which we would be giving up something of comparable moral worth? Why or why not?

I think Singer has hit the nail on the head. Charity, or as he calls it, duty… must be something to which everyone commits. Reading the article echoed what my mother used to say at the dinner table, "You know… people in Africa would do anything for what you are throwing away right now." The implication was never that I should eat more in order to finish it (albeit, it seems that is what kids do nowadays). Nor was the implication that I should put the food in a glad bag, pack it with dry ice, and mail it over. The goal of her stating such an obvious and unfortunate statement was that I should not live in excessiveness, nor should I live beyond my means. This is a rather large statement for her to make in regards to me taking a spoonful too much of mashed potatoes, but I have always felt we can dilute many of life's choices into a simplistic problem as done above.

Singer's anecdote about the child drowning in the pond, much like my mother's lesson to me as a child, is purposefully simple and easy to digest. I do not think anyone in this class can disagree that Singer is correct; it would be your duty to save that child. But somehow, between him making you choose between getting your clothes dirty and saving a drowning child and making you choose between "lowering your standard of living" and saving many starving people which you cannot see, people disagree. As Singer mentions, proximity seems to be the major issue. Is a Bengali human life less important because they are not an American citizen, or in his examples, an English citizen?

In regards to his assertion that we should give until we reach a point where we are marginally at the same standard as those we are giving to also holds a lot of...
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