Peter Singer’s Understanding of Moral Philosophy

Peter Singer’s Understanding of Moral Philosophy

June 27, 2021 Off By Felso

You are in a garden where you know there is a pond. All of a sudden you heard a splash and a scream. You realize that a small child has fallen into the water and is about to drown. What would you do?

Would you just walk away? Even if you have promised a friend to meet up and stopping will delay you, a child’s life will be more important to you than being there on time. The pond is quite shallow, but very muddy. Your best shoe will be ruined if you help, but if you don’t jump into the water, don’t expect other people’s sympathy. It’s about being human and valuing life. A child’s life is worth more than a pair of shoes, or even a very expensive pair of shoes. He is a kind of monster who thinks otherwise. You would jump into the water wouldn’t you? Of course you would jump.

On the other hand, you are probably rich enough to prevent a child in Africa from dying of starvation or curable tropical diseases. That’s probably not much more than the price of the shoes you’re ready to ruin to save the boy in the pond. Why didn’t you help the other kids? A small donation to the right charity can save at least one life. Many childhood diseases can be easily prevented with relatively inexpensive vaccines and other drugs. However, why not feel for a dying child in Africa what you feel for the drowning child in front of you? If you feel the same, you are an extraordinary person. While most of us are troubled by the African reality, we still don’t feel the same for the two of them.

The Australian philosopher Peter Singer (1946) argues that there is not much difference between the drowning child in front of you and the starving child in Africa. We should care more about the people we can save around the world than we do now. If we do not do so, a child who can live will undoubtedly die young. This is not a guess. We know it’s true. We know that thousands of children die every year due to poverty-related causes. Some of us in developed countries are starving as we throw rotting food out of the refrigerator before we can eat it. Some cannot even find clean water to drink. So in order to help people who are unfortunate about their birthplace, we should give up a luxury or two that we don’t really need. Singer’s philosophy is a difficult philosophy to implement. But that doesn’t mean he’s wrong about what we should do.

You can say that even if I don’t donate to the charity, someone else will be found. The danger here is that each of us watches what happens, assuming there is someone else to do what is necessary. There are so many people in the world who live in extreme poverty and go to bed hungry every day that it is very difficult to meet their needs by leaving it to a handful. In the case of the drowning child in front of you, it’s easy to see if someone else has come to the child’s aid, it’s true. When it comes to people suffering in distant lands, it can be more difficult to know the effects of what we do and the actions of other people. But that doesn’t mean that doing nothing is the best solution.

There is a fear associated with this point. It is feared that helping poor people overseas will make them dependent on the rich so that they will stop finding a way to produce their own food, to build their own wells and places to live. Over time, this can make the situation worse than giving nothing. There are countries in the world that have become completely dependent on foreign aid. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t contribute to charities. It means that we need to think carefully about the forms of help these institutions offer. It should not be thought that there is no need for us to try and help. Some basic forms of medical aid can give poor people the opportunity to not depend on foreign aid. There are charities that are very successful in educating local people to take care of themselves, build wells that provide clean drinking water, or provide health education. Singer’s argument is not that we should only contribute financially to others. It says that we should contribute to institutions that are likely to help the people living in the worst conditions in the world in a way that gives them the strength to live independently. His message is clear: You can and should almost certainly have a tangible impact on other people’s lives.

Singer is one of the best-known philosophers alive. One reason for this is that Singer has challenged several common prevailing views. Some of Singer’s arguments are highly controversial. Many believe in the absolute sanctity of human life, that it is always wrong to kill another person. Singer doesn’t believe it. For example, if it has irreversibly entered a permanent vegetative state, i.e., it lacks a meaningful state of consciousness, then the body alone has no chance or hope of salvation in the future.