In Singer’s article Famine, Affluence, and Morality, his main goal is to get the point across that there are people in the developing world that are starving and have a lack of healthcare and the lack of shelters. He argues about how affluent countries react to the issues like Bengal and the way they look at the moral issue surrounding it. He also argues that the way of life is taken for granted by affluence people. The first counter- argument in the article is “the view that numbers do make a difference” (Singer, 1971).
It refers to if every affluent person would give 5 dollars to the Bengal Relief Fund that money would add up. Therefore, there is no reason to have to give more money than anyone else in the same position. Singer argues that this is based off a hypothetical situation. He, however, says in the article that there is no way for that work since no one would give more than 5 dollars then there would not be enough money to provide food, shelter, and medical care. He says by giving more than 5 dollars he will be able to end more suffering.
The second counter argument people do not judge the way Singer suggested they should. Many people tend to keep their judgments to themselves unless they go overboard, step out bounds, and break some type of moral code. The example that Singer uses is taking someone else’s property. Most people tend not to look bad on owning expensive items instead of giving to people less fortunate. Singer’s response to this argument is, “unless that principle is rejected, or the arguments are shown to be unsound, I think the conclusion must stand however strange it appears.
It might, nevertheless, be interesting to consider why our society, and most other societies, do judge differently from the way I have suggested they should. ” (Singer, 1972) At what point do people draw the line at what should be done and what is good but not mandatory. Singer brings up a point that, “In a society which held that no man should have more than enough while others have less than they need. ” (Utilitarian Philosophers, NDG) Many people are influenced by the people around them. If people are giving less than people around them are likely to give less, but if people give more than people around him are likely to give more.
The third counter argument is the difference between duty and charity. The argument is that in some utilitarian theory that everyone should work full time to increase happiness over misery. Meaning that, if people work more, are paid more money than people would not be as miserable, many people say money cannot buy happiness. Singer’s reaction to this counter- argument is that, “we ought to be preventing as much suffering as we can without sacrificing something else of comparable moral importance. ” (Utilitarian Philosophers, NDG)
Singer defines marginal utility as the level at which giving more would result in suffering in his dependents or himself. The meaning of this is that one would limit their material possessions to less than nothing. He further explains that he proposed a more moderate version of marginal utility, “that we should prevent bad occurrences unless, to do so, we had to sacrifice something morally significant, for one might hold that to reduce oneself and one’s family to this level is to cause something significantly bad to happen. (Singer, 1972) It relates to his arguments because he insists that we need to limit our material possessions to that of the Bengal refugees. Singer compares the distinction between duty and charity as not an easy line to draw. However Singer gives an example as this, “The charitable man may be praised, but the man who is not charitable is not condemned. When we buy new clothes not to keep ourselves, warm but to look “well-dressed” we are not providing for any important need.
We would not be sacrificing anything significant if we were to continue to wear our old clothes, and give the money to famine relief. By doing so, we would be preventing another person from starving. ” (Singer, 1972) In other words, instead of buying expensive worthless stuff for yourself giving the extra money would benefit more people and make it more charitable; however, you do not give the extra money to charity you are not looked at any differently. I do agree with some parts of his article, however, I disagree with most of it. First, I think that his article come off with a major attitude in my mind.
He does however make some good points like the way he talks about how some people are influenced by the people around them. Another good point that he made is it should not matter how far the distance is wither they are in the same area as you are thousands of miles away. I do not agree with how he insinuates that the richer you are the more you should give. I believe that a person should give as much as he or she wants. I also believe that a person giving charity should not be held at a higher pedestal then someone that is not able to give to charity.
Courtney from Study Moose
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