What is your personal response to what Singer has to say in his article, "Famine, Affluence and Morality? Are you for his arguments, against, or somewhere in between?

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I think that Singer puts forth some viable points in his article.  The basic premise is that more can be done to help individuals who are in dire need.  Singer's argument is as compelling in 1971 as it is today.  As some nations and individuals have generated more wealth than can be spent in a life time, and others are redefining "poverty," there should be a moral recalibration in what can be done:

The suffering and death that are occurring there [East Pakistan, now Bangladesh] now are not inevitable, not unavoidable in any fatalistic sense of the term.  Constant poverty, a cyclone, and a civil war have turned at least nine million people into destitute refugees; nevertheless, it is not beyond the capacity of the richer nations to give enough assistance to rescue any further suffering to very small proportions.  The decisions and actions of human beings can prevent this kind of suffering.

This is not an unrealistic position to take.  As long as individuals have the power to do something, Singer asks that in the name of morality, they do so.  The notion of morality as something that demands more out of individuals, holding them to a higher standard, is where Singer's argument is persuasive.  In this, I find his argument to be compelling in a world that is more globalized and one in which one nation's success can help others move on the path to achieving this same notion.  Singer is not suggesting that affluent nations give all of their Gross Domestic Product towards another nation that is suffering.  Yet, he suggests that more can be done.  If it does not cause tremendous practical upheaval, it can and should be done.  Morality should demand more out of us and I think Singer is persuasive on this point.