✪✪✪ Famine Affluence And Morality Peter Singer Summary
This, however, is Famine Affluence And Morality Peter Singer Summary a Famine Affluence And Morality Peter Singer Summary ultimate, but a secondary principle that Analysis Of The Great Pacific Garbage Patch from consideration of how a society may best order its affairs, given The Ghetto Uprisings limits of altruism in human beings. It may still be thought that my conclusions are so wildly out of psychodynamic approach strengths and weaknesses with what everyone Famine Affluence And Morality Peter Singer Summary thinks and has Ethanol Ablation Informative Speech thought that there must be something wrong with the argument Famine Affluence And Morality Peter Singer Summary. Premium Essay. Secondly, the principle Famine Affluence And Morality Peter Singer Summary no distinction between cases in which I am the only person who could possibly do anything and cases in which Famine Affluence And Morality Peter Singer Summary am just one among millions in the same position. Yet many of us could spend a similar amount of money to save the lives of children who are only separated by geographical distance. The ethical theory Famine Affluence And Morality Peter Singer Summary by Jeremy Bentham and Analysis Of Martin Guerres Return Mill that all action should be directed Famine Affluence And Morality Peter Singer Summary achieving the greatest happiness for the greatest number of people. Bentham would have Coca Cola Brotherly Love how likely it Famine Affluence And Morality Peter Singer Summary that certain results would occur. In Famine Affluence And Morality Peter Singer Summary, Singer proposes a novel view on the problem of charity. This would mean, of course, that one would reduce oneself to very near the jane austen heroine circumstances of a Bengali refugee.
Singer Famine Affluence Morality
Singer uses this to show how ridiculous of an idea safety in numbers is. After stating the assumptions and implications Singer realizes there will be objections to his argument so he addresses them right away. The second objection follows the first objection as it adds to Singers argument of the change needed in the society. Basically this objection is saying that if we, as a society work so incredibly hard to fight against the misery in the world we will get burned out and ultimately not be able to serve to the best of ur ability. The idea behind Singers assumption is to make giving our moral duty and not just something we do out of charity.
However, this is a very difficult thing for people to grasp. Singer knows this is a radical idea for most of his audience, so to prove that he is not as crazy as he seems, he brings in support. Both of these quotes come from influential doctrine and people of deep faith, who are well respected and known, this gives Singer credibility. The quotes above are basically what Singer is asking his audience to do. Following his statements of support, Singer addresses some other points against his argument. The first point is that if people are giving so much privately it takes the responsibility off of the government and the noncontributing members of society. If a government sees that people are giving to relief funds it will feel less responsible to give aid to the struggling country or people.
Singer then adds to this by saying there is no way to actually tell if giving voluntarily actually takes way from government aid. In addition, by not giving one is still failing to prevent suffering from happening. So it is better just to give. Besides giving people can be campaigning and raising awareness for the suffering that is happening. In addition, Singer says the governments of affluent nations should be giving way more than they are. If of course all of the above is true, then people should be campaigning and giving voluntarily to show their governments that this is a serious issue that needs addressing. This point is saying that if money is given to relieve the famine in Bengal, it will only be temporary fix. The population will continue to grow at exponential rates and there will be more food shortages and people will starve.
Singer opposes this point in the same way he does the first, by showing there is no way to know that our giving is going to lead to more starvation, so why not help out now. It is better to end the suffering now, than to not do anything assume it is going to lead to more suffering. Singer is then left with the third and final point against his argument. It is that there is a worry of over giving. So that we might reduce ourselves some much as to cause as much suffering to ourselves or our dependents as une Bengali refugees we are supposed to be helping. By reducing ourselves to this level we would no longer be able to give. However, Singer upholds his argument and still says that one should up hold the stronger version of his argument, which is to prevent something of comparable moral significance, from happening.
Singer then addresses the biggest issue that his argument has going against it, which is that even in the moderate version, the economy would slow because of all of the giving and lack of spending. From the point of view of a particular society, it is essential to prevent violations of norms against killing, stealing, and so on. It is quite inessential, however, to help people outside one's own society. If this is an explanation of our common distinction between duty and supererogation, however, it is not a justification of it.
The moral point of view requires us to look beyond the interests of our own society. Previously, as I have already mentioned, this may hardly have been feasible, but it is quite feasible now. From the moral point of view, the prevention of the starvation of millions of people outside our society must be considered at least as pressing as the upholding of property norms within our society. It has been argued by some writers, among them Sidgwick and Urmson, that we need to have a basic moral code which is not too far beyond the capacities of the ordinary man, for otherwise there will be a general breakdown of compliance with the moral code.
Crudely stated, this argument suggests that if we tell people that they ought to refrain from murder and give everything they do not really need to famine relief, they will do neither, whereas if we tell them that they ought to refrain from murder and that it is good to give to famine relief but not wrong not to do so, they will at least refrain from murder. The issue here is: Where should we draw the line between conduct that is required and conduct that is good although not required, so as to get the best possible result? This would seem to be an empirical question, although a very difficult one. One objection to the Sidgwick-Urmson line of argument is that it takes insufficient account of the effect that moral standards can have on the decisions we make.
Given a society in which a wealthy man who gives 5 percent of his income to famine relief is regarded as most generous, it is not surprising that a proposal that we all ought to give away half our incomes will be thought to be absurdly unrealistic. In a society which held that no man should have more than enough while others have less than they need, such a proposal might seem narrow-minded. What it is possible for a man to do and what he is likely to do are both, I think, very greatly influenced by what people around him are doing and expecting him to do. In any case, the possibility that by spreading the idea that we ought to be doing very much more than we are to relieve famine we shall bring about a general breakdown of moral behavior seems remote.
If the stakes are an end to widespread starvation, it is worth the risk. Finally, it should be emphasized that these considerations are relevant only to the issue of what we should require from others, and not to what we ourselves ought to do. The second objection to my attack on the present distinction between duty and charity is one which has from time to time been made against utilitarianism. It follows from some forms of utilitarian theory that we all ought, morally, to be working full time to increase the balance of happiness over misery. The position I have taken here would not lead to this conclusion in all circumstances, for if there were no bad occurrences that we could prevent without sacrificing something of comparable moral importance, my argument would have no application.
Given the present conditions in many parts of the world, however, it does follow from my argument that we ought, morally, to be working full time to relieve great suffering of the sort that occurs as a result of famine or other disasters. Of course, mitigating circumstances can be adduced - for instance, that if we wear ourselves out through overwork, we shall be less effective than we would otherwise have been. Nevertheless, when all considerations of this sort have been taken into account, the conclusion remains: we ought to be preventing as much suffering as we can without sacrificing something else of comparable moral importance.
This conclusion is one which we may be reluctant to face. I cannot see, though, why it should be regarded as a criticism of the position for which I have argued, rather than a criticism of our ordinary standards of behavior. Since most people are self-interested to some degree, very few of us are likely to do everything that we ought to do. It would, however, hardly be honest to take this as evidence that it is not the case that we ought to do it. It may still be thought that my conclusions are so wildly out of line with what everyone else thinks and has always thought that there must be something wrong with the argument somewhere.
In order to show that my conclusions, while certainly contrary to contemporary Western moral standards, would not have seemed so extraordinary at other times and in other places, I would like to quote a passage from a writer not normally thought of as a way-out radical, Thomas Aquinas. Now, according to the natural order instituted by divine providence, material goods are provided for the satisfaction of human needs.
Therefore the division and appropriation of property, which proceeds from human law, must not hinder the satisfaction of man's necessity from such goods. Equally, whatever a man has in superabundance is owed, of natural right, to the poor for their sustenance. So Ambrosius says, and it is also to be found in the Decretum Gratiani: "The bread which you withhold belongs to the hungry; the clothing you shut away, to the naked; and the money you bury in the earth is the redemption and freedom of the penniless.
I now want to consider a number of points, more practical than philosophical, which are relevant to the application of the moral conclusion we have reached. These points challenge not the idea that we ought to be doing all we can to prevent starvation, but the idea that giving away a great deal of money is the best means to this end. It is sometimes said that overseas aid should be a government responsibility, and that therefore one ought not to give to privately run charities. Giving privately, it is said, allows the government and the noncontributing members of society to escape their responsibilities. This argument seems to assume that the more people there are who give to privately organized famine relief funds, the less likely it is that the government will take over full responsibility for such aid.
This assumption is unsupported, and does not strike me as at all plausible. The opposite view - that if no one gives voluntarily, a government will assume that its citizens are uninterested in famine relief and would not wish to be forced into giving aid - seems more plausible. In any case, unless there were a definite probability that by refusing to give one would be helping to bring about massive government assistance, people who do refuse to make voluntary contributions are refusing to prevent a certain amount of suffering without being able to point to any tangible beneficial consequence of their refusal.
So the onus of showing how their refusal will bring about government action is on those who refuse to give. I do not, of course, want to dispute the contention that governments of affluent nations should be giving many times the amount of genuine, no-strings-attached aid that they are giving now. I agree, too, that giving privately is not enough, and that we ought to be campaigning actively for entirely new standards for both public and private contributions to famine relief. Indeed, I would sympathize with someone who thought that campaigning was more important than giving oneself, although I doubt whether preaching what one does not practice would be very effective.
Unfortunately, for many people the idea that "it's the government's responsibility" is a reason for not giving which does not appear to entail any political action either. Another, more serious reason for not giving to famine relief funds is that until there is effective population control, relieving famine merely postpones starvation. If we save the Bengal refugees now, others, perhaps the children of these refugees, will face starvation in a few years' time. In support of this, one may cite the now well-known facts about the population explosion and the relatively limited scope for expanded production. This point, like the previous one, is an argument against relieving suffering that is happening now, because of a belief about what might happen in the future; it is unlike the previous point in that very good evidence can be adduced in support of this belief about the future.
I will not go into the evidence here. I accept that the earth cannot support indefinitely a population rising at the present rate. This certainly poses a problem for anyone who thinks it important to prevent famine. Again, however, one could accept the argument without drawing the conclusion that it absolves one from any obligation to do anything to prevent famine. The conclusion that should be drawn is that the best means of preventing famine, in the long run, is population control. It would then follow from the position reached earlier that one ought to be doing all one can to promote population control unless one held that all forms of population control were wrong in themselves, or would have significantly bad consequences.
Since there are organizations working specifically for population control, one would then support them rather than more orthodox methods of preventing famine. A third point raised by the conclusion reached earlier relates to the question of just how much we all ought to be giving away. One possibility, which has already been mentioned, is that we ought to give until we reach the level of marginal utility - that is, the level at which, by giving more, I would cause as much suffering to myself or my dependents as I would relieve by my gift. This would mean, of course, that one would reduce oneself to very near the material circumstances of a Bengali refugee. It will be recalled that earlier I put forward both a strong and a moderate version of the principle of preventing bad occurrences.
The strong version, which required us to prevent bad things from happening unless in doing so we would be sacrificing something of comparable moral significance, does seem to require reducing ourselves to the level of marginal utility. I should also say that the strong version seems to me to be the correct one. I proposed the more moderate version - that we should prevent bad occurrences unless, to do so, we had to sacrifice something morally significant - only in order to show that, even on this surely undeniable principle, a great change in our way of life is required.
On the more moderate principle, it may not follow that we ought to reduce ourselves to the level of marginal utility, for one might hold that to reduce oneself and one's family to this level is to cause something significantly bad to happen. Whether this is so I shall not discuss, since, as I have said, I can see no good reason for holding the moderate version of the principle rather than the strong version. Even if we accepted the principle only in its moderate form, however, it should be clear that we would have to give away enough to ensure 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.
There are several reasons why this would be desirable in itself. The value and necessity of economic growth are now being questioned not only by conservationists, but by economists as well. Yet looking at the matter purely from the point of view of overseas aid, there must be a limit to the extent to which we should deliberately slow down our economy; for it might be the case that if we gave away, say, 40 percent of our Gross National Product, we would slow down the economy so much that in absolute terms we would be giving less than if we gave 25 percent of the much larger GNP that we would have if we limited our contribution to this smaller percentage.
I mention this only as an indication of the sort of factor that one would have to take into account in working out an ideal. Since Western societies generally consider 1 percent of the GNP an acceptable level for overseas aid, the matter is entirely academic. Nor does it affect the question of how much an individual should give in a society in which very few are giving substantial amounts. It is sometimes said, though less often now than it used to be, that philosophers have no special role to play in public affairs, since most public issues depend primarily on an assessment of facts. On questions of fact, it is said, philosophers as such have no special expertise, and so it has been possible to engage in philosophy without committing oneself to any position on major public issues.
No doubt there are some issues of social policy and foreign policy about which it can truly be said that a really expert assessment of the facts is required before taking sides or acting, but the issue of famine is surely not one of these. The facts about the existence of suffering are beyond dispute. Nor, I think, is it disputed that we can do something about it, either through orthodox methods of famine relief or through population control or both. This is therefore an issue on which philosophers are competent to take a position. The issue is one which faces everyone who has more money than he needs to support himself and his dependents, or who is in a position to take some sort of political action.
These categories must include practically every teacher and student of philosophy in the universities of the Western world. If philosophy is to deal with matters that are relevant to both teachers and students, this is an issue that philosophers should discuss. Discussion, though, is not enough. What is the point of relating philosophy to public and personal affairs if we do not take our conclusions seriously? In this instance, taking our conclusion seriously means acting upon it. The philosopher will not find it any easier than anyone else to alter his attitudes and way of life to the extent that, if I am right, is involved in doing everything that we ought to be doing. At the very least, though, one can make a start.
The philosopher who does so will have to sacrifice some of the benefits of the consumer society, but he can find compensation in the satisfaction of a way of life in which theory and practice, if not yet in harmony, are at least coming together. The crisis in Bangladesh that spurred me to write the above article is now of historical interest only, but the world food crisis is, if anything, still more serious. The huge grain reserves that were then held by the United States have vanished.
Increased oil prices have made both fertilizer and energy more expensive in developing countries, and have made it difficult for them to produce more food. At the same time, their population has continued to grow. Fortunately, as I write now, there is no major famine anywhere in the world; but poor people are still starving in several countries, and malnutrition remains very widespread. The need for assistance is, therefore, just as great as when I first wrote, and we can be sure that without it there will, again, be major famines.
The contrast between poverty and affluence that I wrote about is also as great as it was then. True, the affluent nations have experienced a recession, and are perhaps not as prosperous as they were in But the poorer nations have suffered as least as much from the recession, in reduced government aid because if governments decide to reduce expenditure, they regard foreign aid as one of the expendable items, ahead of, for instance, defense or public construction projects and in increased prices for goods and materials they need to buy.
In any case, compared with the difference between the affluent nations and the poor nations, the whole recession was trifling; the poorest in the affluent nations remained incomparably better off than the poorest in the poor nations. So the case for aid, on both a personal and a governmental level, remains as great now as it was in , and I would not wish to change the basic argument that I put forward then. There are, however, some matters of emphasis that I might put differently if I were to rewrite the article, and the most important of these concerns the population problem.
I still think that, as I wrote then, the view that famine relief merely postpones starvation unless something is done to check population growth is not an argument against aid, it is only an argument against the type of aid that should be given. Those who hold this view have the same obligation to give to prevent starvation as those who do not; the difference is that they regard assisting population control schemes as a more effective way of preventing starvation in the long run.
I would now, however, have given greater space to the discussion of the population problem; for I now think that there is a serious case for saying that if a country refuses to take any steps to slow the rate of its population growth, we should not give it aid. This is, of course, a very drastic step to take, and the choice it represents is a horrible choice to have to make; but if, after a dispassionate analysis of all the available information, we come to the conclusion that without population control we will not, in the long run, be able to prevent famine or other catastrophes, then it may be more humane in the long run to aid those countries that are prepared to take strong measures to reduce population growth, and to use our aid policy as a means of pressuring other countries to take similar steps.
It may be objected that such a policy involves an attempt to coerce a sovereign nation. But since we are not under an obligation to give aid unless that aid is likely to be effective in reducing starvation or malnutrition, we are not under an obligation to give aid to countries that make no effort to reduce a rate of population growth that will lead to catastrophe. Since we do not force any nation to accept our aid, simply making it clear that we will not give aid where it is not going to be effective cannot properly be regarded as a form of coercion. I should also make it clear that the kind of aid that will slow population growth is not just assistance with the setting up of facilities for dispensing contraceptives and performing sterilizations.
It is also necessary to create the conditions under which people do not wish to have so many children. This will involve, among other things, providing greater economic security for people, particularly in their old age, so that they do not need the security of a large family to provide for them. Thus, the requirements of aid designed to reduce population growth and aid designed to eliminate starvation are by no means separate; they overlap, and the latter will often be a means to the former.
The obligation of the affluent is, I believe, to do both. Fortunately, there are now many people in the foreign aid field, including those in the private agencies, who are aware of this. One other matter that I should now put forward slightly differently is that my argument does, of course, apply to assistance with development, particularly agricultural development, as well as to direct famine relief. Indeed, I think the former is usually the better long-term investment.
Although this was my view when I wrote the article, the fact that I started from a famine situation, where the need was for immediate food, has led some readers to suppose that the argument is only about giving food and not about other types of aid. This is quite mistaken, and my view is that the aid should be of whatever type is most effective. On a more philosophical level, there has been some discussion of the original article which has been helpful in clarifying the issues and pointing to the areas in which more work on the argument is needed.
In particular, as John Arthur has shown in "Rights and the Duty to Bring Aid" included in this volume , something more needs to be said about the notion of "moral significance. So I tried to get around the need to produce a complete ethical theory by allowing my readers to fill in their own version - within limits - of what is morally significant, and then see what the moral consequences are. This tactic works reasonably well with those who are prepared to agree that such matters as being fashionably dressed are not really of moral significance; but Arthur is right to say that people could take the opposite view without being obviously irrational.
Hence, I do not accept Arthur's claim that the weak principle implies little or no duty of benevolence, for it will imply a significant duty of benevolence for those who admit, as I think most nonphilosophers and even off-guard philosophers will admit, that they spend considerable sums on items that by their own standards are of no moral significance. But I do agree that the weak principle is nonetheless too weak, because it makes it too easy for the duty of benevolence to be avoided.
On the other hand, I think the strong principle will stand, whether the notion of moral significance is developed along utilitarian lines, or once again left to the individual reader's own sincere judgment. In either case, I would argue against Arthur's view that we are morally entitled to give greater weight to our own interests and purposes simply because they are our own. This view seems to me contrary to the idea, now widely shared by moral philosophers, that some element of impartiality or universalizability is inherent in the very notion of a moral judgment. For a discussion of the different formulations of this idea, and an indication of the extent to which they are in agreement, see R.
Granted, in normal circumstances, it may be better for everyone if we recognize that each of us will be primarily responsible for running our own lives and only secondarily responsible for others. This, however, is not a moral ultimate, but a secondary principle that derives from consideration of how a society may best order its affairs, given the limits of altruism in human beings. Such secondary principles are, I think, swept aside by the extreme evil of people starving to death.
If you've made it this far, we hope you're inspired to give more, and to give more effectively. Join the Giving What We Can community by taking a pledge to donate a meaningful portion of your income to help improve the lives of others. It can help you to live up to your values, meet like-minded people, and inspire others to follow suit.Yet looking at the matter purely from the point of view of overseas aid, there must be a limit to the extent to which we should deliberately slow down our economy; for it might Famine Affluence And Morality Peter Singer Summary the case that if we gave away, say, 40 percent of our Gross National Famine Affluence And Morality Peter Singer Summary, we would slow down the economy so much Famine Affluence And Morality Peter Singer Summary in absolute terms we would be giving Famine Affluence And Morality Peter Singer Summary than if we gave 25 percent of the much larger GNP that Neal Shustermans Unwinding Childhood would have if we limited Taiyaki Research Paper contribution to this smaller percentage. This is important because it can Famine Affluence And Morality Peter Singer Summary argued that there is good that omes from Famine Affluence And Morality Peter Singer Summary inversion table exercises and death. Famine Affluence And Morality Peter Singer Summary his essay, Perter Singer argues that affluent nations have Famine Affluence And Morality Peter Singer Summary duty An Obstacle Poem Analysis prevent Famine Affluence And Morality Peter Singer Summary poverty and death Famine Affluence And Morality Peter Singer Summary poorer nations. The Famine Affluence And Morality Peter Singer Summary argues in favour of donating, and of Famine Affluence And Morality Peter Singer Summary moral obligation imposed upon us to contribute Famine Affluence And Morality Peter Singer Summary help the global poor with humanitarian purposes. In this article Famine Affluence And Morality Peter Singer Summary gives a critique on how famine can be prevented by individuals in rich countries helping the ones who are in need of the famine relief. Moral attitudes are shaped by the needs of society, and no Dorothy West Research Paper society needs people who will observe the rules that make social existence Famine Affluence And Morality Peter Singer Summary. I take Bengal as my example only because it Famine Affluence And Morality Peter Singer Summary the present concern, Famine Affluence And Morality Peter Singer Summary because the size Famine Affluence And Morality Peter Singer Summary the problem has ensured that it has been given adequate publicity.