Tuesday, August 28, 2012

I Think Peter Singer Would Like the Sentiment in This Song


In Famine, Affluence, and Morality Peter Singer argues that we should not think of giving to famine relief organizations as "charity." Rather, giving to famine relief efforts is an obligation. Singer argues that if you accept the following two assumptions (which he thinks most people will), then you are committed to giving all your money that isn't needed for basic necessities to famine relief efforts. The two assumptions are:

1) "suffering and death from lack of food, shelter, and medical care are bad"
2)"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"

Since almost everyone in the affluent nations are easily capable of preventing such deaths by giving to famine relief, then we ought, morally, to do it. We should be giving all money that isn't necessary to famine relief efforts.

Given technological advances such as the internet and electronic banking, our distance from the suffering cannot be an excuse; nor can the fact that most people in affluent nations aren't giving mass amounts of money to famine relief efforts. Other people failing to act morally doesn't not mean you are excused from doing the morally right thing. [For a much more detailed account of this argument, as well as responses to other objections, see Singer's article linked at the bottom of this post].

So, do you really need that next drink at the bar (let alone any alcohol at all)? Do you need to see that movie or buy the most recent pop song? Are your ipads necessary to your survival? Do you require those fancy clothes that are mostly likely produced in a sweatshop? Didn't think so :)

External links: 
World Food Programme (WFP) (Search the rest of the website as well for additional info)