Peter Singer's Paper 'Famine, Affluence and Morality'

Peter Singer's Paper 'Famine, Affluence and Morality'

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Peter Singer's paper “Famine, Affluence, and Morality”has made a drastic impact in modern applied ethics. The simple nature of the paper makes for an easy read, yet the point clearly set out by Singer is at ends with the targeted audiences' popular beliefs. Although most will object to Singer's idea by throwing away a basic principle of most moral theories, I wish to deny Singer's solution by showing that the ability to apply Singer's conclusion is not reasonable and does not address the problem's core.
Singer starts with the base of assumption that suffering and death from lack of the essentials of food, water, shelter, and proper medical assistance are bad. I find no problem with accepting this assumption as it is consistent with most widely accepted moral theories. Singer continues by stating “if it is in our power to prevent something bad from happening, without thereby sacrificing anything of comparable moral importance, we ought, morally, to do it”(Singer, Pg.231). Like his first statement, this one is easy to swallow. No moral code, save for maybe ethical egoism or nihilism, would attempt to refute either of his premises. His final conclusion is that if it is in our power to stop suffering and death from lack of the essentials, without sacrificing anything of comparable moral worth, we are morally obligated to do so. This essentially removes the current definition of charity, making giving money to famine relief, not a supererogatory act, but a moral duty of all people who have the ability to do so. Singer admits that this would drastically change the way people live their lives. Instead of living with any disposable income, people would be giving money to those who are living under bad or unsurvivable conditions. But wi...


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...morally justified our future actions. This entire proposal is not here to tell society what is being done at the current state, but it is telling you what you are obligated to do as a human being. If we took the moral standpoint, as we should, at all times when making decisions, we would find that moral justification would take a backseat to obligation.
We as a society have acted upon our obligations in the past, such as during World War 2, yet the occasional dose of action is not what we are supposed to desire as humans. We can not say “I will help these people who are being abused today, yet these people yesterday are on their own.”. Moral obligation is not something so fickle as we wish to make it seem. Although the proposal I have left you with is tough to chew on, it is the right principle to act upon if we are to improve human life and live morally good lives.

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