“As I write this, in November 1971, people are dying in East Bengal from lack of food, shelter, and medical care” Singer stated. (Pojman 759) Peter Singer is an ethical and political philosophy that is well known for his founding movement of modern animal rights. (Peter Singer) Moreover, he believed that people who are suffering from lack of resources are morally bad, in this case Bengal. Besides, it is in our power to prevent something bad from occurring. So, Singer’s overall idea is that we have a moral duty to help the poor from starvation in this world. Pojman 758)
Even though poverty has individually not affected us, people should begin to care for the needy by changing government interactions, following singer’s principles, and having a utilitarian mindset. Singer’s theory states that the government is one of the major causes that can cause starvation. In East Bengal, when the civil war broke out, it created more than nine million refugees. Singer believes that mankind controls poverty and their suffering is not inevitable. Also, government conflicts cause more damage than they believe; the battlefront for war can also be home for many.
Wars between countries can cause significant damage but countries do not even aid for the land they destroyed or even give back to the poor. (Pojman 759) Overall, no government has given enough aid to support such a large amount of refugees just to survive another couple days. A great example is India; the country has to choose between life and death. India needs so much money that they will be forced either to aid the poor or let the refugee starve to death, but at some point there will be more poor people in India. (Pojman 760) People all over the world who are able to give and support the poor must stop situations like these.
Thus, this proves to me that the world is fighting with itself. Nations go into war because of one simple reason; he killed one of us. But, in Africa as Singer stated more than 19,000 children are dying a day, so why isn’t there anybody defending them. (The why and How of Effective Altruism) This has shown us that poverty is not just meant to be, but was created from a man-made cause. In order for this world to be successful, it must work together and sacrifice for the greater good. Singer has a common view on ending immense evil, he believes that everyone has a duty to perform and that is to give to charity.
People should donate until it affects their own standard of living. In order to that, one must stop spending money on unneeded goods and donate to the poor for great causes such as preventing diseases. (Pojman 761) Singer mentioned two different scenarios and how we react to them but instead of muddy clothes, let assume the individual has fifty-dollar shoes. So the first case, an individual with fifty-dollar shoes witnesses a girl drowning and chose to ruin their shoes to save her. That is because since there was a physical connection and such minimum time on his or her hands, he was forced to take upon the role to save her.
On the other hand, a similar girl in Africa who needs a vaccine shot to survive and you have an extra fifty dollars that can save her, so you decided to not donate the money but buy extra shoes. (Pojman 760) To put it another way, the man knew he would not suffer from any mental pain or witness her dying. Therefore, the man did not care and chose to buy his shoes since society has altered his mindset. Although, at times people who have suffered some type of poverty or even drowning understand the concept and are willing to help others.
The second case, a group of people witnesses a girl drowning but after some thought the individual still saved the girl and destroyed his shoes. To clarify, the individuals did not know what to do because they depended on each other to safe her from drowning. In like manner, people in society feel less guilty about famine because they are depending on the elites to donate and help the poor. In contrast, a girl in Africa is suffering and you have an extra fifty dollars but they mentally put the responsibility on the wealthy and bought some extra shoes. Pojman 762)
To explain, the person is in denial because of simple excuses such as “my donation wont make any difference” or “no one should be homeless, get up and find a job”. For both examples, they both show differences on how people act upon situations either alone or with others and how they measure their opportunity cost. But, Singer believes that there is a psychological difference between the two cases in our society. But, in a situation like a girl drowning, people are forced to act upon because of the closer connection between the two.
In fact, Singer wants society to understand that its okay to lose some of their assets to help the needy. To conclude, Singer is concerned to the claim that one must give until it would hurt you more than help others. (Pojman 762) Peter Singer’s was towards the view of a utilitarian, he believed in the theory that we should focus on the interest of beings instead of just pleasure and pain. (Pojman 764) Singer’s explained that an individual would work day in and out just to satisfy their pleasure and pain. But, that is not necessarily the only interest that matters and it is most definitely not the most important interest on Earth.
Moreover, utilitarianism is a moral theory that says right actions are those that result in the most beneficial balance of good over bad consequences for everyone involved. Therefore, if everyone on Earth was to convert to a utilitarian where people must act against their own interest and be willing to do more good than bad. (Pojman 763) An example is Election Day; you know that your vote is not going to affect the presidential circumstances so you don’t bother spending your day on choosing and voting for a president. However, you can do more good by choosing to spend your day cleaning your neighborhood or having a movie night with family.
In general, most of major evils; poverty, overpopulation, and pollution are common problems that everyone should be willing to help and avoid them. (Pojman 761) Therefore, if the world comes to an agreement into paying small amounts, like five dollars every six months, then organizations would have billions of dollars to support and prevent people from entering poverty. Moreover, for issues such as overpopulation, countries can set certain limits on population or land usage. Third, pollution has been an issue for centuries, and the only way to slow it down is by cutting down on unneeded materials and give back to the needy. Pojman 766)
Singer proposed two different principles on changing the world, a stronger argument he supports, and a weaker argument as his backup plan. (Pojman 759) The stronger principle states that “it is in our power to prevent something bad from happening, without thereby sacrificing anything of comparable moral importance, we ought, morally, to do it. ” (Pojman 760) In addition, he meant one must do good to prevent bad, but not do bad to help prevent the bad. For example, a individual who goes to the movies every weekend and spends forty dollars on a ticket and food.
But, instead of going to the movies they can use that fund to donate to the poor. Therefore, a portion of their monthly income will go into the needy rather than themselves. On the other hand, his weak version would change how we view our responsibilities to the poor. In addition, this version states that we can prevent something bad from happening without sacrificing anything morally significant. (Pojman 762) In short, for both principles, society must measure the difference between responsibility and charity because it can bring people together and help for a great cause.
Indeed, while famine does not affect an individual directly, people should make it our life-long duty to help and support people all around the world. An individual will disagree with me because their perspective of giving might be different which is very rare I believe. Also, those who might disagree might not be mentally developed to understand this is not a overnight job but it will take time and understanding. As a child, I would wonder why are their poor people in the world and are people born homeless?
Peter Singer has opened me new doors and helped me recognize that we are the cause of everything good or bad on this earth. Also, I’ve learned that people today don’t appreciate their living standards enough for them to give assets as a form of giving back. Moreover, giving to the needy is not as simple as it seems, we must break our mental barrier and make this world a better place. As I think about it, many of us live our lives on autopilot, we let society plays its role and we don’t challenge ourselves by any means. Sol ask myself, in a dilemma, how much would I be willing to sacrifice for people in poverty?