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James F
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Its that time of year when everyone seems to be a little nicer and people don't seem to mind giving as much. I don't want to ruin the spirit, but are we really giving enough and are we giving to the right people? I took an ethics class last semester in college and we did a section on world poverty. We discussed one man in specific, Peter Singer. His view on world poverty isn't exactly new, but it is getting the view to a broader range of people. Below is a part of his paper entitled Philosophy and Public Affairs. I strongly encourage every person who opens this thread to read the entire thing. Please don't skim it or skip over parts. Reading the entire article straight through is important to understand his point. Singer has greatly opened my eyes to the way I live my life and how I need to change it. I think if it does the same for even one person on this board then it was worthwhile to post it. Keep in mind this is a very small section from his paper and does not come close to completing his argument. A lot of issues you may feel are problems with his argument are addressed. This is just to get some people to see that maybe we aren't doing the right thing. I hope you all take the time to read this and give your comments.



"In the Brazilian film "Central Station" Dora is a retired school teacher who makes ends meet by sitting at the station writting letters for illiterate people. Suddenly she has an opportunity to pocket $1,000. All she has to do is persuade a homeless 9-year-old boy to follow her to an address she has been given. (she is told he will be adopted by wealthy foreigners) She delivers the boy, gets the money, spends some of it on a television set, and settles down to enjoy her new acquisition. Her neighbor spoils the fun, however, by telling her that the boy was too old to be adopted - he will be killed and his organs sold for transplantation. Perhaps Dora knew this all along, but after her neighbors plain speaking, she spends a troubled night. In the morning Dora resolves to take the boy back.
Suppose Dora had told her neighbor that it is a tough world, other people have nice new TVs too, and if selling the kid is the only way she can get one, well, he was only a street kid. She would then have become, in the eyes of the audience, a monster. She redeems herself only by being prepared to bear considerable risks to save the boy.
At the end of the movie, in cinemas in the affluent nations of the world, people who would have been quick to condemn Dora if she had not rescued the boy go home to places far more comfortable than her apartment. In fact, the average family in the United States spends almost one-third of its income on things that are no more necessary to them than Dora's new TV was to her. Going out to nice resteraunts, buying new clothes because the olds ones are no longer stylish, vacationing at beacj resorts - so much of our income is spent on things not essential to the preservation of our lives and health. Donated to one of a number of charitable agencies, that money could mean the difference between life and death for children in need.
All of which raises a question: I the end, what is the ethical distinction between a Brazilian who sells a homeless child to organ peddlers and an American who already has a TV and upgrades to a better one - knowing that the money could be donated to an organization that would use it to save the lives of kids in need?
Of course, there are several differences between the two situations that could support different moral judgments about them. For one thing, to be able to consign a child to death when he is standing right in front of you takes a chilling kind of heartlessness; it is much easier to ignore an appeal for money to help children you will never meet. Yet for a Utilitarian philosopher like myself - that is, one who judges whether acts are right or wrong by their consequences - if the upshot of the American's failure to donate the money is that one more kid dies in the streets of a Brazilian city, then it is, in some sense, just as bad as selling the kid to the organ peddlers. But one doesn't need to embrace my Utilitarian ethic to see that, at the very least, there is a troubling incongruity in being so quick to condemn Dora for taking the child to the organ peddler while, at the same time, not regarding the American consumers behavior as raising a serious moral issue.



In his 1996 book, Living High and Letting Die, the New York University philosopher Peter Unger presented an ingenious series of imaginary examples designed to probe our intuitions about whether it is wrong to live well without giving substantial amounts of money to help people who are hungry, malnourished, or dying from easily treatable illnesses like diarrhea. Here's my paraphrase of one of these examples:
Bob is close to retirement. He has invested most of his savings in a very rare and valuable old car, a Bugatti, which he has not been able to insure. The Bugatti is his pride and joy. In addition to the pleasure he gets from driving and caring for his car, Bob knows that its rising market value means that he will always be able to sell it and live comfortably after retirement. One day when Bob is out for a drive, he parks the Bugatti near the end of a railway siding and goes for a walk up the track. As he does so, he sees that a runaway train, with no one aboard, is running down the railway track. Looking further down the track, he sees a small figure of a child very likely to be killed by the runaway train. He cant stop the train and the child is to far away to warn of the danger, but he can throw a switch that will divert the train down the siding where his Bugatti is parked. Then nobody would be killed - but the train will destroy his Bugatti. Thinking of his joy in owning the car and the financial security it represents, Bob decides not to throw the switch. The child is killed. For many years to come, Bob enjoys owning his Bugatti and the financial security it represents.
Bob's conduct, most of us will immedietally respond, was gravely wrong. Unger agrees. But then he reminds us that we, too, have opportunities to save the lives of children. We can give to organizations like Unicef or Oxfam America. How much would we have to give one of these organizations to have a high probability of saving the life of a child threatened by easily preventable diseases? Unger called up some experts and used the information they provided to offer some plausible estimates that include the cost of raising money, administrative expenses, and the cost of delivering aid where it is most needed. By his calculations, $200 in donations would help transform a sickly 2-year-old into a healthy 6-year-old. - offering safe passage through childhood's most dangerous years. To show how practical philosophical argument can be, Unger even tells his readers that they can easily donate funds by using their credit card and calling one of these toll-free numbers: (800) 367-5437 for Unicef; (800) 693-2687 for Oxfam America.
Now you, too, have the information you need to help save a child's life. How should you judge yourself if you don't do it? Think again about Bob and his Bugatti. Unlike Dora, Bob did not have to look in the eyes of the child he was sacrificing for his own material comfort. The child was a complete stranger to him and too far away to relate to him in an intimate, personal way. Unlike Dora, too, he did not mislead the child or initiate the chain of events imperiling him. In all these respects, Bob's situation resembles that of people able but unwilling to donate to overseas aid and differs from Dora's situation.
If you still think that it was very wrong of Bob not to throw the switch that would have diverted the train and saved the child's life, then it is hard to see how you could deny that it is also very wrong not to send money to one of the organizations listed above. Unless, that is, there is some morally important difference between the two situations that I have overlooked.
Is it the practical uncertainties about whether aid will really reach the people who need it? Nobody who knows the world of overseas aid can doubt that such uncertainties exist. But Ungers figure of $200 to save a child's life was reached after he had made conservative assumptions about the proportion of the money donated that will actually reach its target.
One genuine difference between Bob and those who can afford to donate to overseas aid organizations but don't is that only Bob can save the child on the tracks, whereas there are hundreds of millions of people who can give $200 to overseas organizations. The problem is that most of them are not doing it. Does this mean that it is alright for you not to do it?
Suppose that there were more owners of priceless vintage cars - Carol, Dave, Emma, Fred, and so on, down to Ziggy - all in exactly the same situation as Bob, with their own siding and their own switch, all sacrificing the child in order to preserve their own cherished car. Would that make it alright for Bob to do the same? To answer this question affirmatively is to endorse follow-the-crowd ethics - the kind of ethics that led many Germans to look away when the Nazi atrocities were being committed. We do not excuse them because others were behaving no better.
We seem to lack a sound basis for drawing a clear moral line between Bobs situation and that of any reader of this article with $200 to spare who does not donate it to an overseas aid agency. These readers seem to be acting at least as badly as Bob was acting when he chose to let the runaway train hurtle toward the unsuspecting child. In the light of this conclusion, I trust that many readers will reach for the phone and donate that $200. Perhaps you should do it before reading further."

James
Payne
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Then there is always the argument of is it ethical for the poor to have children that they know full well that they will be unable to care for? A valid philosophical question can be asked if the haves, in a world of self determination, must always care for the have nots.
"America's Foremost Satirical Magician" -- Jeff McBride.
James F
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That's a completely different question than the one being discussed. Keep in mind, we are not talking just about the "poor" ...We are talking about incredibly impoverished people... Those who are literally dying of starvation and malnutrition. It is estimated that 250,000 children die every week and many of these deaths are from these easily preventable illnesses.

Also, people having children when they are impoverished is hardly a reason to deny aid to those children. The main reason Singer speaks of children more so than adults in the above article is because children do not choose the situation they are in. They are born into it. Are we seriously willing to say we are morally allowed to deny these children care when they had no part in being in the situation? They have no choice in the matter of being born.
Jerrine
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Hypothetically, Bob did the right thing. He took care of himself and his. The child's parents should be taking care of the kid. If they aren't smart enough to keep their kid off the tracks then the kid probably wasn't that smart either. Instances such as this help cull the herd and make the world a better place for us all. Too much is done to protect the stupid in my view these days. Bob didn't show much smarts parking on the tracks, but in this hypothetical he came out alright.
I have no moral obligation to take care of anyone other than me and mine. That alone is a big enough job for one man. I don't think nations are obligated to take care of other nations either. The phrase "too bad so sad" comes to mind. Telling me "what about the children!" caries no weight either.
This covert advertisement for Unicef & Oxfam America has fallen on deaf ears.
Bob Sanders
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After nearly fifty years in the professional entertainment industry, I can't help but remember a famous line from a famous song:

"We sing about beauty and we sing about truth at $10,000 a show."

Dr. Hook and the Medicine Show

Bob Sanders
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James F
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I must say, I'm quite taken back by the responses so far. I guess this is why so many people in the world refuse to help others. How anyone can possibly justify buying a new outfit or CD when there are literally people starving to DEATH is beyond me. I'm sure you could look them in the eye and tell them that your vacation to the Bahamas or your new car is worth more than their lives. It literally makes me sick to my stomach.

If you are taking the above example as literally as it seems you are, then I'm sorry but you missed the point. This has nothing to do with being stupid or parents neglecting. It comes down to are you willing to sacrifice trivial monetary things for the LIFE of a person. It doesn't matter how the child got to the tracks or who should be watching him. that's like saying you would allow a child to drown in a pool because you are helping to "cull the herd" and make society "better." Not only is this insanely cold hearted and ridiculous, but its ILLEGAL. You have a moral obligation to do something and failure to do so will get you in serious legal trouble. The point Singer is making is that we must also draw this line of thought on to people in other countries, not just those who are right in front of us dying.

This was not a covert advertisement for Unicef or anything of the like. This was a message to let people on this board know that over 15,000 children die a DAY and most of us are doing NOTHING about it. If you think Bob had an obligation to save that child, then you have an obligation to help others who are dying.

I must honestly say, that claiming Bob was morally ok with letting the child die, you have become a monster in my eyes.

James
rossmacrae
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Quote:
If you think Bob had an obligation to save that child, then you have an obligation to help others who are dying.

Kindly don't specify to me exactly the way I am obligated to help, and the precise problem I am obligated to address. Your examples are vivid, and the right side of them seems clear to me, but they are only isolated examples.

There are many desperate needs in the world, some affecting large groups as a whole, and others affecting individuals uniquely. For you to prioritize which ones I must address, and to what extent I must address them, and which ones are less worthy, ignores the fact that each one of us reading this thread is an adult individual fully invested with the right to decide how his/her resources should be spent. None of us can avoid having others judge us on our actions - but also none of us has all their actions, resources, motives, responsibilities, and needfs, 100% transparent to those like you who feel they should judge.

And I see "save the children" ads on TV and wonder why the spokesman isn't at least pulling a ham sandwich out of his pocket for the sad-eyed waif standing beside him in some third-world craphole. That guy with the beard doesn't look like he's missed too many meals. For that matter, I wonder whether the film crew is thinking "we're making more in a day behind the camera than this kid will make in her lifetime."

I lived a long time in a college town in the early 70's - you should have heard the self-righteous arguments that I had a duty to give my all to THIS cause, because THAT cause was much less important - and that anything I kept for myself was stolen right out of the mouths of the hungry - and that any job I held was one that should rightfully have been filled by someone more deserving - and that appreciating any one of the "finer things in life" (art, cuisine, drama) was bourgeois and why wasn't I in the trenches fighting for [fill in the blank].

At that point, it was enough to make me decide "to hell with them all." I feel awful that I can't do it all - and that, in the face of such screaming need, that I do have to think about having enough in the bank to support me until I die, and believe me, I'm gonna keep it right there.

Later, I came to think "I'm going to choose a cause to lend support to today - and I will decide how much support - and focus on that one, because if I try to solve all the world's problems at once I'll be bled dry and accomplish very little."

So in the face of continuing blandishments from many worthy causes (and far too many direct guilt-trips from "true believers in this or that cause, and sophisticated guilt-trips from hypocritical fat-cat spokesmen for many an unworthy cause) I take some pride in what I have supported. I haven't fed too many starving kids. But I have:

Spent 7 years and quite a bunch of money leading Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts, and please don't think that's all "playtime" - in addition to fostering the organization's ideals in my young charges, I really believe I have taken a personal hand in helping a number of "children of broken families" (an old-fashioned term, yes, but you shoulda seen these folks) find some inner resources and set an upward course for their lives;

Spent 30 years in the entertainment field, which also might seem trivial - except that many people have thanked me for reminding them (however temporarily) that there's still a reason to smile, and they're still capable of smiling, despite their private troubles;

and last, but perhaps most important, the thing I have longed to do for many years: parent two magnificent children and SEND THEM INTO ADULTHOOD AS BETTER MEN THAN I AM - hopefully they will each have their own roles in fixing the problems of this sad old world, and my main regret is that I'm not leaving them as healthy a world as I started life with.

I haven't done everything I could, I haven't even done all I wanted to do, but I haven't sat on my hands either.
Jerrine
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James writes: "I hope you all take the time to read this and give your comments." & "Not only is this insanely cold hearted and ridiculous, but its ILLEGAL. You have a moral obligation to do something and failure to do so will get you in serious legal trouble."

1. If you don't care for my comments, don't ask for them.
2. Show me a law(in black and white, I want chapter and verse if you will)that says I have to save anyone from anything.

signed, The Monster!
James F
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Jerrine,

First let me say that I DO want your comments! that's the point in me posting this. I'm sorry if it seemed if I didn't want them. Although I want your views and your comments, I am also going to share mine.

Also, I cannot give you such information, however, I'm sure you can look it up. I do know that it is indeed illegal to stand by and do nothing to attempt to save someone. In example, seeing someone drowning in the pool and doing nothing, you can be brought up on charges. (This would be a good thing to look into for both of us)

Ross,

I understand your point on "prioritizing" one's moral responsibilities, but I don't think Singer is doing that here. Just because he says you have a moral obligation to give SOME of your unneeded (this is a key word) material wealth to those who have nothing and are dying, does not mean you don't have OTHER moral obligation as well. It also does not mean it is a higher obligation than the others. It is simply the issue he is arguing at this point in time.

Also, please don't take this as looking down on what you HAVE done. I, and Im sure many others would never do such a thing.

Listen, all Singer is really asking us to do is this:

How about, when you have an extra 200 dollars to blow on a new outfit or part of a vacation, give it to people who are STARVING to DEATH. Hes not asking you to give all your money away and live in poverty yourself. (Although, he actually says this is the only true moral way to live. However, he also says this isn't going to happen anytime soon so he will cope with just a little bit of money here or there) He just wants you to not spend that money on things you do not need and give it to people who are seriously dying. People are starving and dying of malnutrition while I sit here and think about spending 30 bucks on a magic DVD. Its NOT right. Something to think about...

Please keep the comments coming. I know Im coming on strong but I truly want EVERYONE's opinions.

James
Bob Sanders
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James,

To a true economist, starvation is a natural death. It is the consequence of natural allocation of resources.

Where does this leave you?

Bob Sanders
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Jerrine
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James,

Your view was well stated by posting this topic. You call me a Monster because of my take. I obviously mistook this as a non-endearing term. Until you can back up what you say concerning Laws, saying I would be in big trouble and brought up on charges, it would seem appropriate for you to leave that aspect alone. I don't need to look up anything, the onus is on you.
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Little good comes from simply feeding the poor. Without the ability to sustain themselves they will be hungry tomorrow and the day after that. Also giving them free food and assistance does little to motivate them to take care of themselves. Most of those who are starving to death are the end product of war, famine, and economic adversity. Simply feeding them offers them no aid. We must tackle the root of the problem not the symptom. There are no easy answers and simply throwing money at the problem isn't going to make it go away. The poor will always be with us,
"America's Foremost Satirical Magician" -- Jeff McBride.
rossmacrae
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Quote:
...he says you have a moral obligation to give SOME of your unneeded (this is a key word) material wealth to those who have nothing and are dying


It is, nonetheless, a frighteningly short step from saying "you have a moral obligation to give some of your unneeded wealth" to saying "and here's how much I think is unneeded, now hand it over." If your author wouldn't say it that way, there are plenty of people who would. Among them are those who voice noble sentiments like "from each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs." Pretty words, comforting thoughts, but history has demonstrated quite clearly that Marx's notions just don't work in real life.

Like you, I am appalled by those who spend big bucks on ostentation (and argue with me about the cost of a birthday show). I have a real problem with people who think "shopping" is a great pastime (never mind whether they need anything or not). Forgive my crudity, but I often stand in wonder and think "who do you have to **** to have this kind of money?" Who the heck needs (I've seen 'em) a FOUR CAR GARAGE?

But the dollars that built that garage didn't go up in flames. They're keeping an army of people OUT OF POVERTY, and that is a daily process. They went to the working stiffs who built the garage, and who built four garage doors, and paved four garage spaces. Those guys would be out of a job otherwise, and in the ranks of the poor looking for their next meal. Give those dollars straight to the poor and a few of them eat today - give them to the garage construction company and the crowd of starving people isn't swelled by the added burden of the bricklayer and his wife and kids, and the company secretary.

That's not "trickle-down economics" - it's not giving huge gobs of public money to the rich hoping some of it comes out as paychecks at the other end. It is fueling an economic system - a system that must keep running or it dumps everybody riding it straight into the ranks of the unemployed. And the unemployed show up at your door tomorrow begging for help.

A similar argument laments how "wasting billions on NASA space rockets (or name whatever other expenditure you care to) is shooting money into space that ought to be spent on the poor." Actually, that money stays right here keeping multitudes of people from becoming poor, from the rocket-builders to the folks who make hamburgers in their Caféterias and clean their restrooms. And as an added bonus, the whole system generates technological discoveries that benefit every field of human endeavor, including the kinds of things that benefit the poor - just one example is the GPS satellites that (while they help steer our cars between shopping malls) now guide the farmer plowing his field and the freighter delivering grain to hungry countries.

I realize I'm arguing capitalism here instead of solving the problems of the needy. But without it (other systems having thoroughly discredited themselves) think how many MORE poor there would be - there is virtue in not swelling their ranks (it's a daily process, not ever a final fix).

Payne said:
Quote:
Little good comes from simply feeding the poor. Most of those who are starving to death are the end product of war, famine, and economic adversity. Simply feeding them offers them no aid. We must tackle the root of the problem not the symptom.

Every positive effort benefits the poor - from the guy writing a check to buy food aid, to the blogger who sits at home typing something political that helps (maybe) keep a war from starting, to the guy who goes to work today so that tomorrow there won't be another guy looking for food.
James F
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"To a true economist, starvation is a natural death. It is the consequence of natural allocation of resources.

Where does this leave you?"

Bob,
I guess it then leaves me as anything BUT a true economist. It leaves me as a person with compassion and love for all other people. It leaves me as a person who, out of luck, was born into a family who can provide me with food and shelter. However, many people were not so lucky.

Jerrine,

You are right in a sense that if I make an argument it is my responsibility to back that argument up. I'm not going to deny that. But if you were a true open inquirer, you should want to know the answer to our question as badly as I do. This seems to show that maybe you don't really want to know if your moral standard is considered wrong by many and illegal. I'm sorry I was so harsh with my words, but I still stand by the idea that letting that child die over material gain is not only wrong, but its an act of a monster. I can understand someone saying Bob should have pulled the switch but that doesn't mean they have an obligation to help to dying (well, not really...But it makes more sense than saying he doesn't have to pull the switch) but saying Bob was acting morally by letting the child die is absurd. I will attempt to find what you're looking for, and I will report back here when I do.

Payne,

This is a good point, however, Singer discusses it in great deal. Remember, I said many objections people are going to have are thoroughly discussed by Singer. Basically, we aren't JUST talking money here. (well, kind of...read on) If you feel that way (that feeding them now only stops the problem for a short time) then you can help the starving in other ways. One way Singer talks about doing this is through over population. If we send money to relief in these areas, it may only delay the problem. What would really help is to stop over population. So how about you give money to organizations that try and stop overpopulation? There are organizations like this. that's the point Singer is making, you don't have to give money directly to these people, but at least to organizations that will help FIX the situation in the long run. However, you should still give to these people because it takes a long, long time for the CAUSES to be fixed. You can give to this, while at the same time giving to the people directly.

Ross,

Actually, Singer DID say how much is needed. Here it comes...He thinks you should give all of your money to the point where if you gave any more, you would be in the same economic standpoint as they are. Basically, you give untill giving would be detrimental to your health. Sounds harsh doesn't it? Well Singer says this is very unlikely. However, he says that doesn't mean you have to give that much. Any bit is better than nothing. How about 10% of your income? 5%? ANYTHING. Singer is saying ANYTHING is better than what MOST of us give now....NOTHING.

Are you all honestly saying that getting that 200 dollar car stereo is more important that someones life? Even if you don't feel you have an obligation (but you do), think about what that money could be doing if you donated it. Remember, 200 dollars to keep a child alive from the age of 2 all the way to 6. that's FOUR years. There are better things we could be doing with our money.

Also, I keep saying children, but we aren't just talking children here. We are talking full grown adults as well.

One more thing...You all keep saying "poor" ...You're saying these things keep jobs where you live and keep people from being poor. First off, I'm not talking poor. I'm talking IMPOVERISHED. Starving to death. Dying of malnutrition. Again, Im not saying to give up EVERYTHING. We can still launch rockets, we can still buy magic tricks. But I know most people could give a good percent of their pay check away and still get those things. Maybe a little slower, but you'll be saving the lives of hundreds of people.

James
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Quote:
On 2006-12-26 10:57, James F wrote:

Actually, Singer DID say how much is needed. Here it comes...He thinks you should give all of your money to the point where if you gave any more, you would be in the same economic standpoint as they are. Basically, you give untill giving would be detrimental to your health. Sounds harsh doesn't it? Well Singer says this is very unlikely. However, he says that doesn't mean you have to give that much. Any bit is better than nothing. How about 10% of your income? 5%? ANYTHING. Singer is saying ANYTHING is better than what MOST of us give now....NOTHING.

I agree that most, probably all, of us on this forum could give more.

But one thing Singer doesn't seem to note in his essay is the time value of money. Perhaps I could give, say, $1000 I don't need now. Or perhaps I could invest that $1000 and give much more than $1000 in 2 or 3 years time.

Similarly, maybe keeping that $1000 and using it to buy magic books or props or DVDs or whatever will make someone all that much more productive and successful. Maybe not giving $1000 to charity today will allow that person to earn more, and give say $50,000, in 10 years time instead.

It's hard / impossible to know what the optimal "giving" equation is.
Make America Great Again! - Trump in 2020 ... "We're a capitalistic society. I go into business, I don't make it, I go bankrupt. They're not going to bail me out. I've been on welfare and food stamps. Did anyone help me? No." - Craig T. Nelson, actor.
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Hi, James:

Allow me to make an argument you will rightly counter as being based on a genetic fallacy: Singer is an ardent (albeit hypocritical) materialist, whose views on the death of the poor would be neatly summarised by Bob Sanders' rejoinder, above. Singer maintains that there is no moral difference between sending Jews to the ovens and sending cows to the slaughterhouse, and holds that "depraved indifference" [the legal principle by which one may be charged with a crime for failing to aid another whose life is at imminent risk] is an illegitimate moral claim. While he famously cared for his Alzheimer's stricken mother, he was equally famous (or notorious) for claiming that there was no moral imperative for his preventing her from starving to death.

As I said, the preceeding was an example of a genetic fallacy, but Professor Singer is a curious choice for a champion of ethics. Besides, Singer's philosophical postion of "preferential utilitarianism" [moral decisions based on the most intense preferences of the individual or group] renders his question moot. If wealthy "haves" choose to ignore the plight of desperate "have-nots," then according to his own moral compass it's just too bad for the starving Brazilian street kids.

Having said that, I believe you and I share a common theistic basis for morality, and the question you've posed is one with which any moral person grapples. I don't know that I have an answer.

Like others, I reject the notion that the poor are entirely my (or my culure's) responsibility, and believe that aiding those in need may do little to address what causes need. I also recognise that such affirmations may simply become rationalisations for not doing more to aid those I can help.

What is the answer? There probably isn't a single response. I can say that I favour a synergistic approach: Education, enhanced infrastructure, stable governance, and birth control where appropriate (i.e., an environment favouring advancement and self-improvement) for the poor, combined with greater compassion, generosity, and prudent stewardship from the rich.

Leland
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Quote:
On 2006-12-26 10:57, James F wrote:
"To a true economist, starvation is a natural death. It is the consequence of natural allocation of resources.

Where does this leave you?"

Bob,
I guess it then leaves me as anything BUT a true economist. It leaves me as a person with compassion and love for all other people. It leaves me as a person who, out of luck, was born into a family who can provide me with food and shelter. However, many people were not so lucky...

James


James,

No fault found.

Having an established credential as an economist I had the same problems. Economics assumes perfect knowledge and perfect mobility. Therefore, I went back to work on the PhD. in marketing. The assumptions there are ignorance and immobility. It's a better picture of reality.

Luck is when preparation meets opportunity. Preparation is a function of decisions and actions taken.

However, compassion is a personal gift. No fault found!

My son is named for my mentor I met in my twenties. My mentor routinely told me that success is a trust to be administered. I still believe him. Keep on keeping on.

Merry Christmas!

Bob Sanders
Magic By Sander
Bob Sanders

Magic By Sander / The Amazed Wiz

AmazedWiz@Yahoo.com
evolve629
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Peter Singer holds that all beings capable of suffering to be worthy of equal consideration and interest. It depends on one's innate feeling toward other beings capable of suffering. Peter is a formative influence on the Animal Liberation Movement. He of course advocates that anyone able to help the poor should donate part of their income to aid poverty and similar efforts. Peter himself donates 20% of his income to Oxfam and UNICEF.

His main argument is presented as follows: If we can prevent something bad without sacrificing anything of comparable significance, we ought to do it; absolute poverty is bad; there is some poverty we can prevent without sacrificing anything of comparable moral significance; therefore we ought to prevent some absolute poverty.
One hundred percent of the shots you don't take don't go in - Wayne Gretzky
My favorite part is putting the gaffs in the spectators hands...it gives you that warm fuzzy feeling inside! - Bob Kohler
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Thanks for the expansion of Singer's preferential utilitarianism argument.

The problem remains with his "ought" statement, given Singer's materialism (a philosophical view that the cosmos consists solely of matter, energy, and their interactions): That is, based on what natural principle can any "ought" statement be formulated? It was this epistomological dilemma that so stymied Singer when he was challenged regarding the inconsistency between his philosophy and his care towards his ailing mother.

For the materialist, this is an irresolvable problem, and if Singer were to be confronted with, say, a group or individual who made it a practise to skin live seal pups for their fur, the exchange could only go something like this:


Singer: I and my culture believe it's wrong to skin living seal pups.

Seal pup skinner: Thanks for sharing. The opinions of you or your group carry no weight with me or my group, and constitute no imperative on, or injunction against, any of our behaviour. Now beat it, I've got coats to make.
evolve629
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I think Singer would want to make sure that the seals are dead before they are skined. It's of human interest to avoid pain and also to eliminate pain of other beings.
It asserts that preference-satisfaction utilitarianism would mean that baby seals are replaceable — their painless death is permissible as long as they are replaced.

Everyone has his or her own self interest to protect. Personally, with regards to seal pup skinner, I will expouse "the paradox of hedonism."
One hundred percent of the shots you don't take don't go in - Wayne Gretzky
My favorite part is putting the gaffs in the spectators hands...it gives you that warm fuzzy feeling inside! - Bob Kohler
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