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Peter Singer Famine and Poverty.docx

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University of British Columbia
PHIL 102
Dominic Mc Iver Lopes

PHIL 102 – Feb 24 2014 Ethical Theory A theory of right action • States what makes an action right • Morally prohibited, permitted and required action A principle-based decision procedure • Consistency is secured by principles that identify what’s relevant in a situation and relate it to actions Applied Ethics • Poverty • Abortion and bodily integrity • Prostitution and autonomy Practical Reasoning: Reason from a clear case • Facts • Norms o Ensure consistent action- especially between clear and unclear cases o Identify a clear case • Action - Therefore: action Should you tell a lie (white lie)? Fact: children of same-sex couples are worse off than other children Norm: if children of couples in a group K are worse off than other children, disallow members of group K to marry Action: prohibit same-sex marriage • Is this norm justified? o Look at moral theories o Consider whether it’s right to apply it to other groups • Doesn’t mean you cannot marry simply they have worse of children. E.g. inter- racial children are worse off doesn’t mean they cannot get married. PHIL 102 – Feb 24 2014 • The norm might not even be right FAMINE AND AFFLUENCE Peter Singer – Direct Act Utilitarian (Maximize pleasure for a greater number of people) Australian – Princeton Professor Jewish family (escaped the holocaust) Bernard Williams -> Singer: Very logical Fact: Suffering and death from famine are bad Norm #1: if we can prevent something bad without sacrificing anything of comparable moral importance (the moral margin) then we’re required to do it. • If you have the capacity to prevent it, unless preventing it causes another morally bad thing to happen, which is worse. o Of moral importance o Can allocate any sort of resources (human capital, financial capital) • Very people act to this norm -> action Action #1: allocate all your resources to famine relief up to The Moral Margin. Until we reach the point where we are causing more harm. Most people have a different norm than Singer: Norm #2: if we can prevent something happening without sacrificing anything of comparable moral importance (The Moral margin), then we’re required to do it sometimes. Helping: most believe it is supererogatory. (Beyond the daily duty) Action #2: sometimes allocate some resources to famine relief, within the Moral Margin If Norm #2 is correct, then we do the latter action (Action #2) not #1 PHIL 102 – Feb 24 2014 Look for consistency in a clearer case – analogy • You see someone drowning in a pool o Singer’s Norm states: if you can help the person without compromising any moral importance. You should help them. If you don’t, then YOU’RE
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