Guide Famine, Affluence, and Morality

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Editorial team. Peter Singer. In , the young philosopher Peter Singer published "Famine, Affluence and Morality," which rapidly became one of the most widely discussed essays in applied ethics. Through this article, Singer presents his view that we have the same moral obligations to those far away as we do to those close to us. He argued that choosing not to send life-saving money to starving people on the other side of the earth is the moral equivalent of neglecting to save drowning children because we prefer not to muddy our shoes.

If we can help, we must--and any excuse is hypocrisy. Singer's extreme stand on our moral obligations to others became a powerful call to arms and continues to challenge people's attitudes towards extreme poverty. Today, it remains a central touchstone for those who argue we should all help others more than we do. As Bill and Melinda Gates observe in their foreword, in the age of today's global philanthropy, Singer's essay is as relevant now as it ever was.

This attractively packaged, concise edition collects the original article, two of Singer's more recent popular writings on our obligations to others around the world, and a new introduction by Singer that discusses his current thinking. Ethics in Value Theory, Miscellaneous. Hunger in Philosophy of Biology. Edit this record. Mark as duplicate. Find it on Scholar. Request removal from index. Revision history.

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Famine, Affluence, and Morality Summary & Study Guide Description

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IV. Duty and Charity

Geoffrey P. Darley - - Cognition 3 Rescuing the Duty to Rescue. An Anatomy of Moral Responsibility. What We Owe the Global Poor.

Peter Singer, Famine, Affluence, and Morality - PhilPapers

Distance Cases v. Pond Cases: Do the differences make a difference? Physical Proximity: In the Pond case a needy child is physically close to you. Not so in the Oxfam case. Weak v. High Powered Gun: If I stand in a crowded park and fire a gun into the air knowing that the bullets would fall within the circumference of the park, I seem to have done something obviously wrong.

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  • 1. “Suffering and death from lack of food, shelter, and medical care are bad” (231)..

Would I be doing something less wrong if, using a higher powered gun, the bullets would fall within the proportionally populated city limits. Psychological Salience: In the Pond case you are vividly confronted with a child and his need.


As it has benefited from the work of many scholars, it is not suitable for citation. Unique Responsibility: In the Pond case there is a child who you, and only you, are in a position to save. If you do not help and the child dies, then you, and only you, are responsible. Drowning Child Plus Bystanders: Would it make any difference if, as a child drown, there were many people standing on the edge of the pond watching?

Rarity: Cases like the Pond case are rare. A disposition to help in such cases is likely to be inexpensive to you. Cases like the Oxfam case are common. A disposition to help in such cases is likely to be expensive to you. Known Benefit v. Expected Benefit: In the Pond case you know pretty much that by helping you will save one child.

In the Oxfam case you don't know that.


Maybe you will save no children. Maybe you will save a hundred children. All you know pretty much is that the mean number of children saved by an action like this is one. You can locate him in space. You can describe his appearance.

Determinacy: In the Pond case, if you do not help, there is a fact of the matter about precisely who would have been saved if you had helped. Related Papers. By Ashley Chang.