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This essay seeks to establish if we must accept this conclusion by evaluating whether objections to the FRA can be morally justified. It is important to note that there are many more objections than those present here, which further essays could evaluate using this framework. This essay argues that whilst we may agree with these objections, they do not provide sufficient moral justification to reject the FRA.
For the purposes of this essay, we shall understand objections as applying to both versions in order to evaluate if they can be morally justified. The evidence suggests that this is not the case Unger However, hypothetically, even if this were an accurate reflection of our current situation, it would not entail a morally justifiable objection to the FRA.
Rather, it would still be possible to prevent suffering by allocating resources to prevent population growth. Therefore, if we can prevent population growth without sacrificing anything of comparable moral importance, we ought morally to do so. A second objection to the FRA is the claim that governments should be doing more to alleviate poverty Singer The fact that the government is not doing enough, or, even if people, similarly placed to ourselves, are not doing enough, does not have any relevance for our moral duties Unger As Singer argues:.
Unless there were a definite probability that, by refusing to give, one would be helping to bring about massive government assistance, people who refuse to make voluntary contributions are refusing to prevent a certain amount of suffering, without being able to point to any tangible beneficial consequences of their refusal.
Unless not giving privately were to challenge this system, we would still be refusing to alleviate suffering without any moral benefits of doing so.
Furthermore, it is plausible to argue that giving privately would be more effective in changing this system, and persuading governments to do more, than not giving.
Objections have been made against the FRA, as it conflicts with our intuitions in a number of ways. For Singer, we are equally as responsible for harm we have failed to prevent, as the harm we cause Kamm This is crucial in order to accept his premise that, if it is within our power to prevent suffering, it is wrong not to do so.
In contrast, our intuitions reflect the acts and omissions doctrine: failure to perform an act is understood as less bad than performing an act with the same outcome Glover If this doctrine is correct, we could argue it is not immoral to not prevent harm, and reject the conclusions of the FRA.
However, the difficulty in drawing the line between acts and omissions highlights the inadequacy of this approach in working out our moral principles Glover Therefore, the acts and omissions doctrine does not provide a morally justified objection to the FRA.
Furthermore, the FRA denies any moral significance for distance Kamm , however our intuitions reflect that distance is important. The question is whether we can morally justify this intuition.
Therefore, it is difficult to find any rational justification that moral obligations should diminish with distance Gruen , Singer 42, Unger A further objection to this impartiality is made by the argument that we have special obligations to those socially and emotionally closer to us, such as our family. Therefore, some have stated that to accept preferential treatment entails rejecting the FRA McGinn However, it can be argued this requirement for special obligations is compatible with the FRA Kagan 8, 9.
Compliance with the FRA does not require us to sacrifice these relationships, rather we ought to prevent suffering only after our special obligations have been fulfilled Singer Therefore, this argument is insufficient justification to reject the FRA.
The discussion so far would suggest that these objections fail to provide moral justifications to refute the FRA. Of course, different objections may yield different results.
However, this evaluation has highlighted that there are numerous conflicts between the FRA and our common intuition. Arguably, this could suggest grounds for rejecting the FRA in terms of plausibility instead of morality. This would be an interesting topic for further investigation. In conclusion, the failure of these objections shows that morally we should be seeking to attain this ideal.
Arneson, R. Jamieson ed. Singer and his Critics. Cornwall, Blackwell. Cullity, G. Gorovitz, S. Brown and H. Shue eds. Gruen, L. Kamm, F. McGinn, L. Murphy, L. Nagel, T. Phillips, D. Singer, P. Sneed, J. Jamieson, D. Unger, P. Oxford, Oxford University Press. Before you download your free e-book, please consider donating to support open access publishing.
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Peter Singer, "Famine, Affluence, and Morality"
This essay seeks to establish if we must accept this conclusion by evaluating whether objections to the FRA can be morally justified. It is important to note that there are many more objections than those present here, which further essays could evaluate using this framework. This essay argues that whilst we may agree with these objections, they do not provide sufficient moral justification to reject the FRA. For the purposes of this essay, we shall understand objections as applying to both versions in order to evaluate if they can be morally justified.
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It argues that affluent persons are morally obligated to donate far more resources to humanitarian causes than is considered normal in Western cultures. The essay was inspired by the starvation of Bangladesh Liberation War refugees , and uses their situation as an example, although Singer's argument is general in scope and not limited to the example of Bangladesh. The essay is anthologized widely as an example of Western ethical thinking. One of the core arguments of this essay is that, if one can use one's wealth to reduce suffering—for example, by aiding famine-relief efforts—without any significant reduction in the well-being of oneself or others, it is immoral not to do so. According to Singer, such inaction is clearly immoral if a child is drowning in a shallow pond and someone can save it but chooses not to;  nor does placing greater geographical distance between the person in need and the potential helper reduce the latter's moral obligations:. It makes no moral difference whether the person I can help is a neighbor's child ten yards away from me or a Bengali whose name I shall never know, ten thousand miles away.
IV. Duty and Charity
What would you do if you were walking past a shallow pond in which a small child was drowning? There can be little doubt that the vast majority of people would wade in to save the child even if it came at the relatively trivial cost of getting their clothes muddy. This is the starting point of a famous essay by Peter Singer, an Australian moral philosopher, first published in It has just been republished, along with two additional essays by Singer and a foreword by Bill and Melinda Gates.
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