Poverty has a crippling effect on those who must live in it. There is little to no access to health care or even education. Infrastructures such as transportation, sanitation, and safe water are done without. Basic rights, basic needs are deprived of. But what is even more unfortunate is the lack of voice these individuals have when it comes to their suffering. There are people who have an abundance of food, clothing and items in general yet others are forced to scrape up a meal for the day. This begs the question if those well off are morally wrong if they choose not to give. When capable it is not immoral to disregard individuals who suffer but, when failing to prevent suffering you are however, acting unvirtuously.
There are countless perspectives on how to answer whether or whether not choosing to help alleviate poverty is morally right or wrong given the capabilities. The first position is Peter Singer from Famine, Affluence and Poverty. His two general moral principles are that suffering and starvation is bad. And since it is bad, and if we have the power to eliminate it without sacrificing anything of comparable worth, we ought to do it. This concludes that we have an obligation to alleviate suffering. His other principles are that proximity and the fact that another person being around to aid does not change our moral duties. These duties are morally required of us rather than charitable, he believes. Singer also states that how we much we give, what we give, and how we use our money expresses our values. So if most people value the end of suffering it does not make sense that the way we use our money is not consistent with our ideals. However, John Arthur from World Hunger and Moral Obligation: The Case ...
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...’s intent when not giving to the poor is not to harm or let someone suffer. When you choose to drink a coffee instead of donating to an organization you are not intending to hurt someone. We do not think to ourselves “I am going to do everything I can so that this suffering person cannot ever live an unfulfilling life.” A person who kills (in most cases), does however have this thought process. Their aim is to stop or end a life. Because our intent is not to harm, causing a suffering and letting suffering happen is not a moral equivalent.
Granted that the disregard for those in need is considered moral, it would not be enough for someone wishing to be virtuous. Their character should demonstrate compassion, love and empathy for the suffering. Not being responsible for suffering of others can prove your moral decency but it does not show virtuous qualities.
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