Peter Singer's 'Famine, Affluence And Morality'

Decent Essays
Preference Utilitarian Peter Singer maintains that it is a moral wrong for those in affluent countries to not do more to prevent starvation in other parts of the world. Singer formulates this argument in his paper ‘Famine, Affluence and Morality’. Singer argues from the side of consequentialism, in particular Utilitarianism; an ethical philosophy in which the happiness of the greatest number of people in the society is considered the greatest good. Several philosophers have countered Singer’s theory, claiming that our moral duties are lessened by the distance of those suffering in other parts of the world. Moreover, critics of consequentialism argue that it does not allow agents to act in accordance with their own needs. I will be arguing from the point of Singer’s Utilitarianism, and will explore why I believe the failure of those in affluent countries to do more to prevent starvation in other parts of the world is a serious moral wrong.

Utilitarianism emphasises the idea that an act is morally right if its consequences lead to happiness, and wrong if it leads to pain. Act Utilitarianism, a theory which Singer affiliates with, states that the right act is the one that produces as much or more happiness than the alternative act. Subsequently, we are morally required to donate our
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To refrain from doing this would be a moral failure on our part. Although it can be debated to what extent we are obligated, the obligation remains the same. Overall, to reject Singer’s conclusions would be to infer that certain people are more deserving of happiness than others, going against the Consequentialist aim of creating the greatest happiness overall. Therefore, I believe that whatever wealth we can spare we are obligated to give to those who, without it, will continue to suffer

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