Famine, Affluence, and Morality Notes
Peter Singer opens his argument by introducing the reader to a famine in Bengal setting up his first premise that starvation is bad (Singer 631-632). He then suggests for his second premise that if it is possible to stop something bad from happening, then we should do all we can to stop it as long as it does not cause something else just as bad to happen. Singer says that if everyone donated five pounds, then there would be sufficient funds to help relieve those suffering in Bengal from lack of food, shelter, and medical attention. But in reality, not everyone will give all the money that needs to be given. Since not everyone donates what they should, the people that do donate should give all they can to help, not just the minimum. Singer addresses the issues of why people do not donate. He says sometimes people believe that it is the government who should aid people in need, but in the end, he says it is the individual's responsibility as well as the government's there should be both public and private contributions. Another reason people do not donate is because they believe the society in need might become dependent upon aid; for example, people being feed today might starve next year because the funds run out. Elaborating, Singer points out that distance is not morally relevant, especially with modern methods of aid. We can easily send a small amount of money to a foreign country, and that money will save the live or lives of children. If we don't do so, those children will die. However, Singer goes further with his example as he points out that when it comes to additional income, there is always one more child to save, and the reasoning still applies.
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