Peter Singer’s essay, “Famine, Affluence and Morality,” was written in 1971, in the context of Bangladesh’s war for independence from Pakistan, and the ensuing refugee crisis, compounded by a devastating famine…
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The essay attempts to change prevalent moral stances, is addressed to an inclusive audience, and is an indictment of consumerism. Singer’s purpose is to draw attention to the deficiency of the currently accepted tenets of morality, according to which contributing to famine relief is ‘supererogatory’: it is good to give, but there is nothing wrong in not giving. Singer firmly holds that “This way of looking at the matter cannot be justified” (8). He argues that when it within the capacity of the affluent to alleviate suffering, and prevent death from famine, the affluent have a binding moral obligation to contribute money. Failure to do so is not just falling short of being charitable: it is an unambiguous moral failure. It is amoral. Giving money to alleviate human suffering is an unavoidable duty of the affluent. Singer admits that his stand is “contrary to contemporary Western moral standards” (10), but justifies his position, and calls for a revision in prevalent moral standards. Through his essay, Singer attempts to rouse the conscience of the affluent, and instigate them into giving money to those less fortunate. Originally published in Philosophy and Public Affairs, “Famine, Affluence and Morality,” is obviously intended mainly for teachers and students of Philosophy. Singer points out that the issue of famine and suffering is a public affair which does not require an expert assessment of facts and, as such, it is well within the ambit of philosophers, who are members of an affluent society, capable of taking some form of political action. Singer exhorts students and teachers of philosophy to engage in debate on his call for a revision in Western moral standards, and to alter their attitudes. This will give them “the satisfaction of a way of life in which theory and practice” (12) can be harmonized. Transcending the profile of the intended readers of this journal, Singer enlarges his audience to include every individual and all governments in relatively affluent society. He criticizes the policy of governments to prioritize infrastructure and defense needs over the moral obligations of aid and censures the British government for valuing “a supersonic transport more than thirty times as highly as it values the lives of the nine million refugees” (Singer,5). He categorically states that no individual in affluent society can abdicate his responsibility to contribute money to the needy. Inaction is inexcusable on any ground. Singer’s essay is an open indictment of contemporary consumerist society. He goes to the extent of candidly asserting that it is desirable that “the consumer society, dependent as it is on people spending on trivia rather than giving to famine relief, would slow down and perhaps disappear entirely” (Singer,12). He goes on to say that “the consumer society has had a distorting effect on the goals and purposes of its members” (Singer, 12). He admits that the philosophers who accept his positions will have “to sacrifice some of the benefits of the consumer society” (Singer, 12). Singer connects the moral stands prevalent in contemporary society to the consumerist lifestyle which is now the norm. He regrets that the moral importance of giving money to the starving is not acknowledged to be superior to individual desires for luxuries. Singer explicitly condemns “
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(Peter Singer: Charity and Duty Essay Example | Topics and Well Written Essays - 750 Words)
“Peter Singer: Charity and Duty Essay Example | Topics and Well Written Essays - 750 Words”, n.d. https://studentshare.org/english/1429084-peter-singer-charity-and-duty.
The situation he describes is one that could be told forty years later in the same words and same context, which is to state that little has changed in bridging the gap between the world’s poorest people and the richest societies economically, or even with regard to the most basic aspects of standard of living such as adequate food, shelter, and health care.
Mr. Singer argues that, in no uncertain terms, the world is not doing enough to help those that need it, and in fact those that can help have a moral obligation to do so. Mr. Hardin argues that while help is certainly possible for those that need it, the likelihood of being able to help everyone is a reality that will never be attained due to the limited amount of space and shrinking resources.
He has numerous assumptions in his essay, which apparently discusses humanity’s duty to help starving people in countries that need help the most. Among his assumptions include our duty to prevent what is bad, and promote what is good. He elaborates this contention by explaining that if we, humans, have the capacity to help other people who are in need without sacrificing some things that are equally important and significant to our lives, then by all means, we are ought to do so.
In this approach, he goes further to state three major suggestions that would help those in the country to fight the three scourges. Peter Singer argues that the individuals in more advanced and affluent countries have the responsibility of radically changing their way of life as well as their concept of morality to enable them be in a position which they are able to commit themselves in helping the needy in the society.
In this article he has emphasized on two issues. One issue is an analogy provided by him. In this analogy he mentions that if a child is drowning in a pond then we should save him if there is no fear of risking our lives in that act. If we really face such a situation then it would without doubt be a moral obligation to save the child.
e highly acclaimed philosopher and educator from Princeton University had been taking bullets for his much controversial stand regarding issues that are quite sensitive to the prickly society. He had authored several high- profile writings that had critics question his
He says that when a ‘reservoir’ is constructed, though people express concern that it would drown a valley teeming with wildlife, the reason behind this concern often lies in the fact that the valley has
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