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English 101/Essay 3
19 March, 2013
Peter Singer's Essay
It is an irrefutable fact that we should help each other. However sometimes help to others poses some danger to either us or others. In Peter Singer's essay "Famine Affluence, and Morality" Peter Singer argues that we ought, morally, to prevent starvation due to famine. Singer begins by saying that assistance has been inadequate as richer countries prioritize development above preventing starvation. Singer then states that "suffering and death from lack of food, shelter, and medical care are bad" (404) and assumes that it is uncontroversial enough to be accepted without justification. He then next raises the linked premise that we morally ought to prevent something 'bad' from happening as long as we have the means and it does not entail compromising on anything of 'comparable moral significance', using the analogy of a drowning child and hence assuming the principle of "universalizability" (405).
As Singer writes, he attempts to justify why he feels that it is within our means to do so without sacrificing anything morally significant, and concludes that we hence morally ought to prevent starvation due to famine.
Singer anticipates objections and the first of which is that as the drowning child is nearer to us than the starving Bengali, the moral obligation is therefore seemingly reduced. Singer responds that this merely affects the likelihood of who receives aid first, but it still holds that we should be indiscriminate with the amount of help given to people especially when the world is becoming a "global village" (405). Singer also anticipates the objection that there are other people who are standing around not doing anything anyway. He contends that there is a psychological difference but the moral...