Consequentialism: The Global Poor

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The global poor have been an issue that the world has faced for generations and with the gap between the rich and poor always expanding, we have to ask ourselves the question of “what should we do about it?” and “should we even do something about it?”. In this essay, I will be arguing the moral implications of consequentialism and why Onora O’Neill’s non-consequential view on the subject is more plausible than Peter Singer’s consequential view. I will explain what differentiates Singer and O’Neill’s views and where both their views come together.

Consequentialism refers to the idea that what is morally good or bad is all based on the consequences of one’s actions. It is derived from the Theory of Right Action which is a part of Utilitarianism (Sinnott-Armstrong). Peter Singer is a notable Utilitarian philosopher and a strong supporter of the idea of Consequentialism. When it comes to the issue of the global poor, his consequentialist view is that people should help the poor. He believes that “if it is within one’s ability to prevent something bad from occurring, and in the process, not sacrifice something of comparable moral good, then one is bound to do it”( "O'Neill vs. Singer: Utilitarian Famine." ). He believes that everyone has this obligation and responsibility because everyone is of equal stature. So when there is someone in the world that is suffering, whether it be of pain or financial predicaments, and you have the ability to aid that person to get to a better state of living without sacrificing your own well-being, then it should be expected that you do. An example of this would be if you were walking down the street and you see a homeless man. If you have money to spare and that wouldn’t be a sacrifice, then...

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... actually hurt someone/do wrong.

This is why I believe that Onora O’Neill’s non-consequentialist view would be more plausible. I’m not against the focus on consequences because thinking about those are definitely important. But all consequences happen because of an action and so it would be much more important to focus on the actions we are doing and making sure they are done with good intentions of making everyone’s life better and improving the conditions we all live in.

Works Cited

• Sinnott-Armstrong, Walter. "Consequentialism." Stanford University. Stanford University, 20 May 2003. Web. 24 Apr. 2014. .

• "O'Neill vs. Singer: Utilitarian Famine." O'Neill vs. Singer: Utilitarian Famine. N.p., n.d. Web. 24 Apr. 2014. .

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