famine affluence and morality n.
Download
Skip this Video
Loading SlideShow in 5 Seconds..
Famine, Affluence, and Morality PowerPoint Presentation
Download Presentation
Famine, Affluence, and Morality

Loading in 2 Seconds...

play fullscreen
1 / 16

Famine, Affluence, and Morality - PowerPoint PPT Presentation


  • 176 Views
  • Uploaded on

Famine, Affluence, and Morality. Famine, Affluence, and Morality. Background. Then : East Bengal (later, The People’s Republic of Bangladesh). Hit by a massive cyclone in 1970 killing up to half a million people – central government responded poorly.

loader
I am the owner, or an agent authorized to act on behalf of the owner, of the copyrighted work described.
capcha
Download Presentation

PowerPoint Slideshow about 'Famine, Affluence, and Morality' - frye


An Image/Link below is provided (as is) to download presentation

Download Policy: Content on the Website is provided to you AS IS for your information and personal use and may not be sold / licensed / shared on other websites without getting consent from its author.While downloading, if for some reason you are not able to download a presentation, the publisher may have deleted the file from their server.


- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - E N D - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Presentation Transcript
slide2

Background

Then: East Bengal (later, The People’s Republic of Bangladesh)

  • Hit by a massive cyclone in 1970 killing up to half a million people – central government responded poorly.
  • Population at the time was about 90 million (about three times the size of modern-day Canada), crowded into a country smaller than Iowa (which today has a population of 3 million).
  • Civil war in 1971 killed between 300,000 and 3,000,000 civilians (depending on whose statistics you trust).
  • In 1974-5, after Singer’s writing, the famine in Bangladesh only got worse, with up to 1,000,000 dying from lack of food, shelter, and medical care (though the Bangladesh government claimed only 26,000).
  • At the height of the famine, the US government withheld 2.2 million tonnes of food to “ensure that [Bangladesh] abandoned plans to try Pakistani war criminals”.
slide3

Background

2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami

  • Struck South and Southeast Asia on December 26, 2004.
  • Estimates at 229,866 people lost, including 186,983 dead and 42,883 missing, following initial hit. Tens of thousands were injured, and over 1,000,000 were made homeless by the event.
  • World nations pledged over $7 billion dollars in aid (with an initial pledge by the US of $35 million, upped to $350 million).
  • Three months after the tsunami, less than half had been received.
  • This disparity is not unusual in relief aid:
  • Following the Cambodian war, $880 million was pledged in aid by 1992, with only $460 million received by 1995.
  • Following the Bam earthquake in Iran, some $1 billion was pledged in Jan 2004, with only $116 million received a year later.
slide4

Background

2010 Haiti Earthquake

  • Magnitude 7.0 earthquake hit Haiti on January 12, 2010.
  • The Haitian government estimated 316,000 people dead, and another 300,000 injured (Haiti had a population around 9 million).
  • 250,000 homes either collapsed entirely or were rendered uninhabitable, and over 1,000,000 people were made homeless.
  • Immediate response by foreign countries was fast.
  • The U.S. government has pledged $100 million in aid.
  • Even before the earthquake, Haiti was the poorest country in the Americas:
  • Average income was $2 per person, per day, with 80% of the population living in poverty.
  • Because of this poverty, about 250,000 Haitian children live in slavery as unpaid servants.
slide5

Background

USA’s 2012 Gross Domestic Product was estimated at about $15.8 trillion.

  • Estimates are that the Iraq war cost up to $3 trillion.
  • In comparison, the US’s pledge of $350 million for tsunami relief would have paid for about 1/3 of a day of the Iraq war.
  • In total, the US contributes about 0.19% of its GDP to foreign aid – less than any other industrialized nation.
slide6

Peter Singer: “Famine, Affluence, and Morality”

Singer’s Central Argument

  • The way that affluent countries react to the need for foreign aid cannot be justified.
  • Most of us feel no obligation to help alleviate suffering abroad.
  • We need to alter how we look at our moral conceptual scheme.
  • As a result, we need to alter our way of life, which we largely take for granted.
slide7

Peter Singer: “Famine, Affluence, and Morality”

Singer’s Central Argument

P1 Suffering and death from lack of food, shelter, and medical care are bad.

P2 General Principle:If 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.

P3 (I can prevent people’s dying of starvation by giving more money to famine relief than I currently give.)

P4 (By giving more money to famine relief than I currently give, I would not be sacrificing anything morally comparable to the evil of dying of starvation.)

C Therefore, I ought to give much more to famine relief.

slide8

Basic Premises

P1 Suffering and death from lack of food, shelter, and medical care are bad.

  • This much is just assumed, and Singer does not provide an argument for the premise.

P2 General Principle: If 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.

  • Singer allows that this principle could be softened to cover “something very bad from happening…”
slide9

Drowning Child Example

An application of the General Principle:

  • If I am walking past a shallow pond and see a child drowning in it, I ought to wade in and pull the child out. This will mean getting my clothes muddy, but this is insignificant, while the death of the child would presumably be a very bad thing.

The General Principle takes no account of:

  • Proximity or distance
  • That a person in need is near to us might make it more likely that we shall assist him, but it does not follow that we ought to help him rather than another who is further away.
  • With the rise of relief organizations, it’s about as easy to donate to relief aid as it is to donate to some other organization in our own neighborhood.
slide10

Drowning Child Example (cont’d)

The General Principle takes no account of:

  • Multiple capable agents
  • There are millions in the same position to help refugees in need of aid, but this is not significantly different from a case where I am the only one who can prevent some evil.
  • I am not less obliged to pull the drowning child out of the pond because there are others observing the scene who are likewise doing nothing.
  • If others were to give substantially to relief aid, I might be obliged to give less. But as the situation stands, by giving more than $10 to relief aid, I will prevent more suffering than I would by giving just $10.
slide11

How Far Does the General Principle Extend?

What qualifies as “morally significant”?

  • Is your tuition money morally significant?
  • Is your car morally significant?
  • Is your time morally significant?
  • Is your freedom morally significant?

“… I and everyone else in similar circumstances ought to give as much as possible, that is, at least up to the point at which by giving more one would begin to cause serious suffering for oneself and one’s dependents—perhaps even beyond this point to the point of marginal utility, at which by giving more one would cause oneself and one’s dependents as much suffering as one would prevent in Bengal.”

slide12

Duty and Charity

Our current way of thinking:

  • Because giving money is regarded as an act of charity, it is not thought that there is anything wrong with not giving.
  • The charitable man may be praised, but the man who is not charitable is not condemned.
  • People do not feel in any way ashamed or guilty about spending money on new clothes or a new car instead of giving it to famine relief.
slide13

Duty and Charity (cont’d)

Our current way of thinking:

Duty

Beyond the Call of Duty

  • It's wrong not to do it.
  • It's good to do it, but not wrong to refrain from doing it.
  • What's morally required.
  • What's charitable.
  • Refraining from murder.
  • Giving to famine relief (until one is sacrificing something morally significant).
  • According to Singer, giving to famine relief should be thought of as a duty, as wrong not to do, as morally required, and so forth.
  • Singer wants to move “giving to famine relief” to the “duty” column.
slide14

Possible Objections

Objection 1

  • J.O. Urmson: We need to have a basic moral code that is not too far beyond the capacities of the ordinary man, or there will be a general breakdown of compliance within our society.
  • Reply: What is possible or likely for someone to do is greatly influenced by what those around him are doing and expecting him to do.
  • The possibility that spreading the idea that we ought to be doing very much more than we are regarding famine will bring about a general breakdown of moral behavior seems remote.
  • If the stakes are an end to widespread starvation, it is worth the risk.
slide15

Possible Objections

Objection 2

  • This utilitarian principle would seem to require that we all ought, morally, to be working full time to increase the balance of happiness over misery.
  • Reply: On this principle, if there were no bad occurrences that we could prevent (without sacrificing something of comparable moral importance), the principle does not apply.
  • Triage!
  • Mitigating circumstances: If we wear ourselves out through overwork, we shall be less effective than we would otherwise have been.
  • But the conclusion remains: we ought to be preventing as much suffering as we can without sacrificing something else of comparable moral importance.
slide16

Practically Speaking…

Recall Singer’s Argument

P1 Suffering and death from lack of food, shelter, and medical care are bad.

P2General Principle:If 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.

C Therefore, I ought to give much more to famine relief.

  • How much?
  • What do we have that is morally comparable to dying from starvation, exposure, or disease?
  • We have the duty to give until (1) we reach equilibrium, or (2) we’re in the state of Bengali famine victims.