Utilitarianism, Famine, Affluence, And Morality

1038 Words 5 Pages
While walking down the side of the road, you come across a person who seems to have tattered clothing, an unbathed demeanor, holding a sign that says “Anything Helps”. Does one have a moral obligation to help this person, or is it out of our scope of moral obligation? This difference between moral obligation differs between Utilitarianism and the Kantian approach. According to the Utilitarian theory of moral obligation, their duty is to do what will bring the most good and resolve the most amount of pain. Simply put, whatever would bring the most amount of happiness to the most amount of people is morally good. According to a Kantian approach, a duty is deemed morally right not based by empirical notions, but rather there is an a priori principle …show more content…
Furthermore, they accept the fact that if they give to the needy, it could reduce their pain. Therefore they believe that they should give maximally in order to try and bring happiness and reduce pain. As Peter Singer states in Famine, Affluence, and Morality, we as a people ought to give maximally as a people, as long as we are not losing anything of moral significance. Singer states that because giving to organizations has now been looked on as charity, there is no wrong being done when someone does not give. It is this problem of duty versus charity that Singer believes needs to be …show more content…
The Utilitarian arguments biggest down side is that it fails to address the human dignity that every human has. Kant’s categorical imperative seems to hit the nail on the head by stating, “act so that you treat humanity, whether in your own person or in that of another, always as an end and never as a means only.” Take the circumstance of the pestering homeless man whom which the entire city complains about because he has a rude and unpleasant demeanor. A proposal to kill the man is brought before the city. In respect to the Utilitarian approach, this would be using the man as a means to an end, and furthermore would bring more people happiness and less people pain. The murder of this man would be considered rightful and just. Whereas in the Kantian approach, it is already deemed an unjust action because it would be treating a human as a means to an end and ultimately refusing the human dignity that the man unquestioningly has. Although the Utilitarian argument does address things such as world hunger and world poverty as bad things, the idea of weighing consequences can lead to many inhuman

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