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Analyzing The Rich And Poor Philosophy Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Philosophy
Wordcount: 2130 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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Choosing the topic of the Moral duties to the poor, I agree with some of Peter Singer “Rich and Poor” arguments but choose to point out several factors which should be taken into account; the misconception that a large majority of “the absolute Affluent” have excessive amounts of money and blows it on what he considers as pointless indulgence and finally being naive to the political working of poor countries.

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To interpret what going on in Peter Singers “Rich and Poor” he talks about two terms absolute poverty, Absolute affluence, discusses the moral equivalent of murder, the obligation to assist, and some objections to his argument. Singer defines absolute poverty as being the means of which people fall below the status quo of being poor, they in simpler term are poorer than your average poor which is the case in most third world countries. Peter states that Absolute poverty countries suffer from several issues being of an infant mortality rate eight times higher, a life expectancy one-third lower, an adult literacy rate 60 per cent less, Mal-nutrition and also suffer from lack of protein to develop infancy brain development. Singer then defines “Absolute Affluence” as, “meaning people who have more income and excessive amounts of food than they need to provide for themselves adequately with all the basic necessities of life (Singer 141:1993).” Singer talks about the wealthy aspects and how it ultimately affects poor people, stating that individuals within Absolute Affluence, after taking care of their bare necessities spend their resources on pointless luxuries to indulge in their pleasures. “the Absolute affluence buy new clothes to look good, not to keep warm; they move house to be in a better neighborhood or have a playroom for their children, not to keep out of the rain; and after all this there is still money to spend on stereo systems, video-cameras, and overseas holidays(Singer 141:1993).” Singer then explains how developed countries are morally wrong because developed countries develop or produce more food than poor countries and use some of the excess of products produced to feed animals to have a more variety in food like meat and dairy products, He states “if we stopped feeding animals on grain and soybeans, the amount of food saved would-if distributed to those who need it-be more than enough to end hunger throughout the world (Singer 140:1993).” Ultimately the world’s problems of hunger are distribution rather than production of food. Singer comes up with the solution that poor people could do better if they could improve agricultural techniques but can’t afford to buy the product to help them improve agricultural production so they should be given the wealth to improve their agriculture. Singer discusses the moral equivalent of murder and states that to stand by and let people starve to death is the equivalent of murder. Peter singer uses an analogy of a doctor who refuses to operate on a dying patient resulting in his/her death, to a doctor who uses lethal injection to put his patient out of their misery. Singer concluded “that there is no intrinsic difference between killing and allowing to die. They are extrinsic differences, that is, differences normally but not necessarily associated with the distinction between killing and allowing to die (Singer 142:1993).” He then argues that it is every individual’s obligation to assist in the least fortunate no matter what. He gave an example that an individual had a date but on the way saw a person drowning, how it is that individual’s moral responsibility to assist that person drowning and save that person even though the individual would ruin his appearance for their date. “Nevertheless the uncontroversial appearance of the principle that we ought to prevent what is bad when we can do so without sacrificing anything of comparable moral significance is deceptive (Singer 144:1993).” It is deceptive because people are in dire need of food but people don’t follow the moral responsibility to assist and sacrifice by giving up money. Peter singer then sets out his own personal guidelines of obligation to assist first if we can prevent something bad without sacrificing anything of comparable significance; we ought to do it (singer). Second absolute poverty is bad. Third is some absolute poverty we can prevent without sacrificing anything of comparable moral significance (singer). Coming to the conclusion that people ought to prevent some absolute poverty (singer). Lastly discusses several counter arguments to his arguments which are the “taking care of our own”, property rights if people have the right to hoard resources privately, population and the ethic of triage cutting of one group to possible save the other who has less of requirement for resources to its population size and finally leave it up to the government to handle the issue of global hunger.

Focusing mainly around the issues of absolute affluence and the Obligation to assist, I will critically analyze Peter singer ideas towards the two and bring up points that he forgot to consider in his arguments. I generally agree with everything he said about all the topics except for absolute affluence and the Obligation to assist above. I agree with his Ideas that moral equivalent of murder is to stand by and let people die of starvation or die period is the equivalent of murder, by not providing the necessary assistance they require. Especially, when they have the means to help it is morally and ethically wrong. I also agree with the arguments that he made against the counterarguments. When it came to absolute affluence I thought of several questions when reading, is it safe to assume that individuals within the category of Absolute affluence are really wealthy with an overabundance of resources of money and food. Or maybe they merely surviving to maintain an overextended lifestyle which they fight to maintain but keep up a false image to compete in societies standards of success. Can poor countries actually be similar in needs? The obligation to assist if they have the means to assist they should by all means assist but what if they don’t have the means because they are so tied up of taking care of their own and when their done they have nothing left are they still required to assist. Also is it still the obligation to assist individuals in need who doesn’t want to be help or have ulterior motives with the aid you choose to provide.

In the view to some the Absolute affluence are really wealthy with an overabundance of resources of money and food, but too few who know all too well it can be a misconception a false belief. Singer states that affluent individuals can afford to have expensive dinners, take oversea holiday trips, buy Stylish clothes, a sophisticated stereo system, a (second) car, a larger house, and afford private schools for our children, and so on (singer). We have to ask ourselves at what cost is it to those who are absolute affluent, I would be naïve to say that not all the affluent have extra excessive amounts of cash because some have it and live elitist lifestyles. I what to shed light on the average upper middle class, and lower middle class families that are struggling and are merely surviving to maintain an overextended lifestyle which they fight to maintain but keep up a false image to compete in societies standards of success. . Just imagine if an affluent individual had a (second) car, a larger house, and sent their children to private schools. How much that would cost two car notes, large house means large mortgage. They won’t their children to learn something so they avoid public schools sending them to private. Private school mean tens of thousands of dollars and if you have more than one child its hundreds of thousands of dollars. Also take into consideration that affluent wealthy people have expensive dinners and buy Stylish clothes and nice cars just to show off and brag to their friends but really deep down they maybe struggling by living off credit cards and bust their asses by working 40 to 80 hrs a week. The society we live in is that we have to be show offs and pretend that we are successful really when were not. Just imagine some poor sap being dragged to a diner with his wife so she can brag and lie to her girlfriends its cost him money at the cost of his wife’s image. Final taking in account why affluent individual buy a sophisticated stereo system and take oversea holiday trips, it is to bring a momentary moment of happiness to relieve stress and prevent the individual from having psychotic breakdown shooting her /himself and their family. For my question of can poor countries actually be similar in needs because for the measure to be absolute, the line must be the same in different countries, cultures, and technological levels. The amount of wealth required for survival is not the same in all places and time periods. For example, a person living in far northern Scandinavia requires a source of heat during colder months, while a person living on a tropical island does not. Some people may have different requirement like so poor people in desert countries they may have food but need water because it’s scarce so how can every group be categories under absolute poverty. I conclude that all the people who do have the entire list of luxurious singer mention above, may have to work even harder to maintain their lifestyles so the definition or view of Absolute Affluent can be different because they might be putting on a show. The saying goes, “the more money you have the more problems”

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For the absolute affluent belief I took an economic approach but for the obligation to assist I took a political approach and the counterargument of taking care of our own approach to questioning singer’s argument. The absolute affluent with all their suppose obituary obligation to assist those of less fortune is okay but also forgets to take into consideration that the affluent might have so many other things to worry about like all the internal issues of their country they belong to forgetting about the external world issues. Like in the U.S people losing their jobs and homes nationwide how could they have time to stop and take concern over the poor when they themselves on the brink of poverty. This give valid consolidation to the counter argument of take care of our own that is it our moral obligation to care of needy in a timely manner when they come last. In an order when our families come first, second those near to us being our neighbor or the homeless person in our nation, and then finally the poverty in foreign countries. Singer states its every ones obligation to assist the poor that everyone should sacrifice everything, “saving every life we could, would mean cutting our standard of living down to the bare essentials needed to keep us alive (Singer 142:1993).” A response to the statement brings to question of does cutting our standard of living mean allowing an individual to let his/her child starve so he can feed the poor in a foreign country. Another approach to critically analyzing the obligation to assist is whether we can help the poor who sometimes don’t want to be helped or their country is so political unstable filled with violence and chaos people who are sent to assist can possible be harmed and killed. Do I want to be responsible for the individuals who go there to aid the poor because if I donate money in a way I am committing the equivalent to murder because I know that person could be killed. Stinger then states “Perhaps it is more important to be politically active in the interests of the poor than to give to them oneself (Singer 150).” So if the poor are to take part in some kind of dispute or use the aid wealthy Individuals pay for to fuel a civil war which will result in death and suffering is it then still an individual’s obligation to assist. Sometimes this assistance has resulted in tensions between organization like the United Nations Relief and Works Agency UNRWA and local absolute poverty groups who proceed in the theft of food and blankets and takeover of a supply convoy of the UNRWA (Stoddard, Harmer and DiDomenico). Those incidents are a result of some local absolute poverty groups who aim at the policy to strive to control the humanitarian aid brought into the respected countries and use it for their political and financial advantage is it still my obligation to assist (Stoddard, Harmer and DiDomenico).


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