Moral Obligations

Topics: Morality, Ethics, Moral Pages: 3 (1064 words) Published: February 3, 2013
Singer’s goal in this article is “if it is in our power to prevent something bad from happening, without thereby sacrificing ourselves or dependents than we ought to morally do it” (Singer, 1972, p. 231). This means that if a person can help another person without sacrificing themselves in helping that person, than that person should help. Singer also argues that if people did act upon principle our lives, our society, and our world would fundamentally change.

Singer first argues that distance and proximity shouldn’t be taken into account when it comes to helping. He argues that it makes no moral difference whether the person you help is a neighbor ten yards away or a person in another country (Singer, 1972, p. 231-232). Singer also wants you to take into consideration that the principles don’t make a distinction between people. It doesn’t matter that it is just you or you and a million others in the same position. If someone is doing nothing, in moral terms, it is no different than the absence of people doing something (Singer, 1972).

Singer defends his second principle with our “moral obligation” a drowning child is used as an example. “Should one feel less obligated to pull a drowning child out of a pond, if on looking around you see other people, no further away than you, who are doing nothing?” (Singer, 1972, p. 233). This is a good example of, why should I do something, if they aren’t doing anything? This is what Singer means by moral obligation.

Singer’s argument for this is that everyone should donate a small amount. He uses a hypothetical example that if everyone where obligated to donate five dollars to the relief fund there would be enough to provide food, shelter, and medical care to the refugees. Singer also argues that as long as you are giving as much as you can without sacrificing yourself or your dependents than you should give as much as you can. Marginal utility is the more you have of something, the less beneficial that something is. So...
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