Philosophy 1305F/G Lecture 15: Lecture sep 15.docx

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Philosophy Lecture
Are we morally obligated to give generously to famine relief (or the
equivalent)? Ought we indeed to do so?
Singer brings up the question: Are there morally significant differences between
the two cases? Should one trust the intuitive response that there are such
differences and try to find a principle that explains it?
oThere are no significant differences between the case-we need a principle
to tell us what we are morally obligated to do
Singer’s strong principle: “…if it is in our power to prevent something bad from
happening, without thereby sacrificing anything of comparable moral importance,
we out, morally, to do it” (231; my emphasis)
oIts about preventing something without causing more suffering
Don’t want to worsen situation by helping someone else
The application of the pond vs. the envelope
oPondphysically helping a drowning child, but you don’t because you
would get wet
oEnvelopedonating money to a charity to help children in another country
oToo demanding/too drastic
oShaming effect
An impartial moral principal
oLike judges, thinkers believe that we should adapt this impartial way of
Principle of negative responsibility
oResponsibility to prevent bad things
oThe utility or Greatest Happiness Principle
Actions are right in proportion as they tend to promote happiness,
wrong as they tend to produce the reverse of happiness” (John
Stuart Mill)
Good if they produce good things, bad if they produce bad
things (our actions)
Responsibility to produce happiness
Impartial moral principle: each persons happiness counts as one
You can’t favor one type of happiness over another type of
Principle in favor of negative responsibility
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