The Analysis of the Soundness of Peter Singer’s “Famine, Affluence and Morality” essay sample

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The Analysis of the Soundness of Peter Singer’s “Famine, Affluence and Morality”

Introduction

“Famine, Affluence and Morality" was published in 1972 and soon became one of the most widely discussed essays in applied ethics. In this article Singer presents his view that people, who live relatively well-off life, have the same moral obligations before the poor, no matter if they are their neighbors or citizens of some distant country.

He points out that choosing not to donate life saving money to starving people whenever they live is the moral equivalent of neglecting to save a drowning child with some vague excuse of not wanting to muddy one’s shoes. He states that is a person can help he or she must help and any excuse is hypocrisy. In this work we are going to analyze the soundness of Peter Singer’s work by comparing it to Aristotle's ethical theory and Kantian ethics.

Main Points of Singer’s work Singer implies that people in rich countries have a moral obligation to give much more money than they actually do for charity and international aid aiming at poor countries. Singer invokes people to radically change their over consuming way of life in order to help those who do not have enough vital things like food, water, medicine, etc. Singer starts with the idea that “suffering and death from lack of food, shelter, and medical care are bad” which leads to the general principle: “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, p.496) He implies that any citizen of a rich country can protect people from dying because of starvation or absence of medication by donating more money to famine relief than he or she does now and as it would not be sacrificing which means that anyone should give more to help the others than he or she does. The main idea is that “if it is in our power to prevent something bad from happening, without thereby sacrificing anything morally significant, we ought, morally, to do it.” (Singer, p. 496) But Singer favors more strong application of his principle stating that if it is in our power to prevent something bad from happening, without thereby causing something worse to occur, we ought, morally, to do it.

His work is more emotional than logical though, some scenic examples he provides excite some feeling of guilt of living secured life while there are starving people on the same planet. His drawing child example raises emotions but is it really supports his principle? Singer states that it is no matter how far you are from the situation. He also emphasizes that it is insignificant that there are millions of well-off people who can help. He puts the blame on everyone and states that all of us need to revise our way of thinking. Charity is not just a good idea it is our moral duty. He goes as far as to …

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