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Department
Philosophy
Course
PHIL 209J
Professor
Christopher Morris
Semester
Spring

Description
Hannah Werblin Professor Morris PHIL209J 4 February 2013 Famine,Affluence, and Morality Peter Singer • Something can be done to prevent suffering and death—they aren’t inevitable or unavoidable o Richer nations have the ability to reduce suffering o Humans have to take certain actions and make certain decisions o No nation has given enough for the refugees to survive more than a few days o India will have to either let the current refugees starve or feed them and let future people starve o No one can claim to be unaware of the issue o We need to alter our moral scheme and our way of life • Suffering and death from lack of food, shelter, and medical care are bad • If we can prevent something bad from happening without sacrificing anything of equal or greater moral significance, we ought, morally, to do it o The distance of the person you are helping makes no difference  In a better position to judge what a person needs when close  Can provide the assistance we judge necessary  The development of the world eradicates all justifications for not helping those far away  Feel less guilty when others in a similar position have not done anything (numbers lessen obligation—ideal excuse for inactivity) o No difference if you are the only person who can do anything or if you are one of millions who can do something • Ought to give as much as possible until by giving more you would cause your own suffering o Sending money needs to be simultaneous and unexpected – people need to think that others are not giving, when in fact others are • We must redraw the distinction between charity and duty o Giving money is considered an act of charity – not giving is not wrong  If we only bought enough clothes to keep us warm and gave away the rest, we would be preventing someone else from starving  It is wrong not to give the money we don’t spend on necessities  Too drastic a change? o Argument 1: J.O. Urmson:  Moral attitudes are shaped by the needs of a society  Society needs people who will obey the laws  We must look beyond the interests of our own society o Argument 2: there needs to be a simple basic moral code or else no one will follow the moral code at all  What is possible for a person to do and what the person actually does are bot
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