My Outlook on Peter Singer’s Article: “Famine, Affluence, and Morality” Amanda Ponshock
PHI 208 Ethics and Moral Reasoning
Instructor: Rachel Howell
August 05, 2013
In his Peter Singer’s article, “Famine, Affluence and Morality”, he speaks of how he looks at ways one might think about charity and famine relief. Not everyone has accepted his general idea of how a person should act in these situations. I myself only agree with his views at a certain level. I believe that everyone should help others out in a disaster if they have the means available to do so. Singer’s main argument is the lack of food, shelter, and medicine is horrible and that we have the means to prevent it without sacrificing very much. He uses the Bengal Emergency for his example to his argument. He state “that the way people in relatively affluent countries react to a situation like that in Bengal cannot be justified; indeed, the whole way we look at moral issues – our moral conceptual scheme – needs to be altered, and with it, the way of life that has come to be taken for granted in our society” (Singer, 1972). His goal here is to persuade people that everyone, including the government, need to help with famine relief, and how we deal with such disasters now is “morally unjustified”. (Singer, 1972)
Singer supports his argument when he brings up the scenario of a child drowning. We would have a duty to save the child to prevent the child from dying. If we were to just watch the child drown it would be morally incorrect. Singer looks at it as it doesn’t matter if we know the child or not we should save him if we are capable just like it doesn’t matter if one in need is close to us or in another country we should make it a point to help.
When we first look at Singer’s example most of us would agree with him and not argue his point. However there are a two points one must be willing to accept (1) “takes no account of proximity or distance…”, and (2) “…makes no distinction between cases...
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