Up@dawn 2.0

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

14-3 Peter Singer on Preventing World Poverty

People do not live in isolation, therefore their happiness is mutually dependent. Do you think it would be better (in terms of crime, disease, quality of life) to live in a city where the rich flourish and the poor beg and die on the streets or in one where everyone has food to eat, medical care, education, freedom and a roof over their head? In that sense, it would be better for our capitalist friend to attend to the needs of the less fortunate before his own comfort as the best way of securing both.

Every man for himself is no way to build a society.

Putting your luxuries before others' needs is making a suspect moral choice - as Singer says, you are making essentially the same choice as Bob. Can you accept that?

The trouble with Singer is, he's right, and painfully so. The incredible level of commitment and sacrifice it would take to abide by that philosophy would put it beyond most, including, sadly, myself - I have no more right to the world's resources than impoverished Africans and yet good fortune allows me to squander my (admittedly pitiful) wealth on trees and books when, from where I am sitting, I could send it halfway round the world to build wells and hospitals - but if I am truly honest with myself then I acknowledge that I am essentially am letting that train roll on.

Singer uses Warren Buffet and Bill Gates as his examples, pointing out that the immense contributions that they are both making to the world wouldn't have been possible if they hadn't invested their money in becoming as rich as they are. Becoming wealthy and then using it to better the world at the end of your life is exactly what Singer's utilitarianism would call for! The point remains, however, that buying a 100 million dollar house for yourself along the way (or any unneeded luxury item) is still indefensible from this perspective.

So why should we be moral?


  1. I defiantly agree with this! In my opinion i think, ones who are living a perfect life or ones who have everything they need to be happy, should share that happiness with ones who are struggling to make through. What is the point of having everything if your not willing to help the ones who have nothing and struggle in everyday life. How can you happy when you see mothers begging for money so their children eat? Even more how can you be happy when you see a little kid die because of starvation? I think it is sad when those who have it, spend it on something unnecessary instead of sharing it with those who do not have any. As the bible says," Is it not to share your bread with the hungry and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover him, and not to hide yourself from your own flesh? "Give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.” Sharing is caring remember that!

  2. I agree with him and think that we should live in a society where everyone has a roof over their head and food to eat. And I think if a person does become extremely rich that they need to share that with the rest of the world.

  3. Anonymous6:56 AM CDT

    When it comes to real interest its easier to be without ,morals and make more money than it is to be happy with less income. Why do people who have less ethical standards? Ethical choices have to be made in our live one big ethical proposal peter singer was big on was the question how do we spend our money. What would i choose if i were to be placed in there position rather than my position. People should used your money for achievement. With not spending money on those who need singer thinks we have the same moral obligation to help just as we have to not harm

  4. I agree with him. I believe we should live in a more communal society where everyone helps everyone and everyone has a role to help the society.