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Global Economic Justice


L Miller

on 4 May 2010

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Transcript of Global Economic Justice

Famine, Affluence, and Morality Peter Singer 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 November 1971: People were dying in East Bengal, India as the result of a hurricane, a civil war, and poverty. Yet people around the world could have prevented this if individuals or countries sacrificed some of their wealth and resources Britain spent 14,750,00 pounds on aid to help those 9 million people in East Bengal, but they spent 440,000,000 pounds on a transportation project This is a paradigm example of nations assigning higher importance to their own projects than to human life Can this type of behavior be justified? NO Singer believes that we have a moral obligation to those who are in need. Reactions of affluent nations to catastrophes such as this show that our moral conceptual scheme needs to be altered It is not enough to simply praise those who give to charity while pardoning those who do not.
Giving to those in need is NOT going above and beyond what is morally required.
It is a moral obligation. It is a duty. How can we possibly believe that spending money on Dunkin Donuts coffee, an Xbox 360, your 3rd pair of high heels or sneakers, alcohol, or any luxury is justified when others lack the food, clothes, and medicine necessary to sustain life? Singer believes that we should sacrifice to the point of marginal utility- as much as possible without causing ourselves harm- in order to provide relief to those in extreme need. Opposition: John Arthur "World Hunger and Moral Obligation" Arthur claims that people have an inherent right to their property, money, posessions, etc. To illustrate this, he uses an example of a hardworking farmer who yields a large crop and a lazy farmer who is starving. This example is in no way analogous to people who are starving as the result of natural disasters, poverty stricken areas, or destruction by civil wars. Furthermore, if the family of a lazy farmer is starving should we really believe that we are exempt from a moral obligation to help? Is it the fault of the farmers children that they were born to a lazy father and are now starving? According to Arthur, we have a right to our wealth and any form of redistribution is unacceptable. which means:
no taxes
no welfare
no unemployment insurance
no free public education
no health benefits from work Arthur's criticism of Singer's argument is that it is absurd to expect people to live up to those moral obligations, however, Arthur's argument is equally if not more absurd because he claims that we are very rarely REQUIRED to help at all Arthur discusses moral obligation in terms of contracts. For example, he claims that if there are many people in a pool while a child is drowning they are not obligated to help the child, in fact only the life gaurd is obligated to help because he has entered a contract to do so. So, it is morally acceptable, according to Arthur, to watch a child drown and do nothing. Following this logic, one is more or less never required to help anyone if it interferes with even the most trvial and fleeting sources of happiness Furthermore, Arthur claims that people are selfish and subjective so we should not expect them to act otherwise.
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