In The Life You Can Save, philosopher Peter Singer, named one of "The 100 Most Influential People in the World" by Time magazine, uses ethical arguments, provocative thought experiments, illuminating examples, and case studies of charitable giving to show that our current minimal response to world poverty is ethically indefensible.
He argues that for the first time in history we're in a position to end extreme poverty throughout the world -- both because of our unprecedented wealth and our advances in technology.
Offering some unconventional thoughts about the ordinary Americans' obligations to the world's poor, Singer presents not only a plan on how much to give, but how to give, and to which organizations. He makes an irrefutable argument that will make a huge difference in the lives of others, without diminishing the quality of our own lives, and concludes there are no valid excuses left for not giving (or giving more).
His book is an urgent call to action and a hopeful primer on the power of compassion, when mixed with rigorous investigation and careful reasoning, to lift others out of despair.
Peter Singer is the Ira W. DeCamp Professor of Bioethics in the University Center for Human Values at Princeton University. He specializes in applied ethics and approaches ethical issues from a secular, preference utilitarian perspective. Singer is well-known for his book, Animal Liberation, a canonical text in animal rights/liberation theory. From 2005 on, Singer has also held the part-time position of Laureate Professor at the University of Melbourne, in the Centre for Applied Philosophy and Public Ethics.
A study shows most Americans think the U.S. government gives too much, between 10-20% of the annual US budget, to foreign aid and should only be giving 5-10%. The truth is, says philosopher Peter Singer, the U.S. allots less than 1% of the budget for foreign aid.
Singer makes a specific, implementable proposal and a strong ethical argument as to why we should give money to make the extreme poverty of the most poor less miserable. And you counter that you have a different solution, which is to do away with money, and if the world is not going to do that, then, well, you are going to do nothing? Can't you do better than that? Even if I agreed with you about doing away with money, really, does it seem like something likely to happen any time soon?
Proposing an impossible-to-implement alternative solution is not a refutation.
I agree, i think there will always be inequality within the economic system of society today. However, if the world was to exist without money, humans would simply make things to make others happy and power in this sense would work through self criticism. Therefore in this type of world, generally for the poor, humans would notice how it is unfair that some have more opportunity etc than others. We would then decide what to do collectively as a society and act on that. I have no doubt that the living standards of a poor place would increase slightly by giving or donating tiny amounts of money, however i belive you are missing an important point also. If we are to take this belief on board,. we are accepting the fact that there are inequalities to start with in the first place. There are reasons why there is poverty and poor countires etc, and i believe the reason to be because the higher your status, the more money you are rewarded and therefore the more power you have. An example of this would quite simply be the Western world. We can relate to charities here, as i believe the reason a charity existed was to help those individuals less 'well off'. Havent we questioned why these charities still exist today?Why there is still poverty today?Why there is children in need programmes etc?The reason is because in a capitalistic system controlling and structuring todays world, inequalities and unequal power relations are the result. Therefore, giving money to charities, or giving money to poorer areas of the world will not work. A world without money is the answer.
gemma: I think you are dramatically missing the point of what Mr. Singer is talking about. Will there always be inequality? One could argue that that will be true, that there will always be an economic structure where more powerful nations build their economic growth on the backs of the exploitation of cheap labour in poorer nations. But there is a distinction between focussing on the existence of rich and poor, and focussing on the level of poverty in which the poor live. Mr. Singer mentions the statistic of 1 billion people living on less than a dollar-per-day in local purchasing power. If the living standards of these people were raised to 2 dollars-per-day, they would still be by all objective measures on the 'poor' side of the rich-vs-poor divide, so it wouldn't change your comment about there always being rich and poor individuals -- but that increase would likely make an enormous distinction in their day-to-day lives.
When the world economically is based on inequalities and unequal power, it results in individuals being at polar opposites of rich and poor. Therefore, to give money towards saving a child will not solve the problem. With the economic system in place today, there will always be extremely rich and extremely poor people. Have you ever questioned why we have to use money to save people's lives?Shouldn't we (as intelligent human beings) beable to be humane and want to simply save people's lives? Im sure, if the world was to be a world without money, ALL children would be saved.