Overview of Famine, Affluence

“Famine, Affluence, and Morality”

Constant famine is one of the great issues facing our

global society today. The article examines why Singer believes

it is morally indefensible that suffering as a result of poverty

is bad. He argues that affluent persons are morally obligated to

donate far more resources to the poor in this world. Singer

introduces the famine in Bengal setting up his first premise

that starvation is bad. His second premise is, “if it is

possible to stop something bad from happening, then we should

do all we can to stop it as long as it does not cause something

else just as bad to happen.”(Singer,1971) His arguments are

clear, logical, and motivated by utilitarian perspectives.

Singer’s first premise is simple, it states the idea that
humans suffering from poverty and famine is "bad." This basic
point is not dwelled upon, because Singer assumes that most
people will reach the same understanding via different routes;
thereby rendering this assumption as accepted. His second
premise that if we can alleviate suffering without sacrificing
anything of significant moral importance, we ought to
do it. To apply this principle, he gives the drowning child
analogy; If one sees a child drowning in a shallow pond, one

should wade in and pull the child out. This will mean getting
your clothes muddy, but this is insignificant because muddy
clothes don’t justify allowing the death of the child because
they aren’t morally comparable.
The author also points out that proximity and distance are
morally irrelevant, especially today, because there are expert
observers and organizations to send aid. He notes that we can
send a small amount of money to a foreign country, and that
money will save the lives of many people. Likewise, he believes
there is no reason why people should not uphold their moral
responsibility when others can help out as well. Therefore, one
is not less obliged to pull...