Please read the article Famine, Affluence, and Morality, by Peter Singer and complete the following tasks

Famine, Affluence, and MoralityStudents Name:

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Please read the article “Famine, Affluence, and Morality,” by Peter Singer and complete the following tasks:

Explain Singer’s goal in this article, and then present Singer’s argument that supports his position.

The goal of Singer’s article is to make people aware of their moral obligation and responsibility in the society. The society is not an alien concept out there, according to the article it is you and me. He uses the famine and starvation that was being experienced in India, Bangal. Children were dying because there was no food for them as a product of the drought.

Singer’s argument is based on the premise that food is a basic need for every individual in the world and before people think about investing in projects, all people should be fed. People have an obligation to help others when they are in need, but there are always some excuses that they will come up with in order not to do that. He states that governments send peanuts to help the dying people and want to be praised for it, while they invest ten times the same amount they sent into unfruitful ventures. The conclusion to his argument is that people in affluent states will always find a reason or excuse not to help others yet small sacrifices could mean a lot to those in need. Help knows no race, distance or skin colour.

Explain three counter-arguments to Singer’s position that he addresses in the article, and then summarize Singer’s responses to those counter-arguments.

According to Singer, there are three excuses that people come up with in order not to help. They include:

Proximity – people argue that when the problem is not close by then it is not possible to help the people. However Singer argues that it is possible to send the assistance to the people when we come together as a society no matter how far they are. This is made possible by technology that has turned the world into a global village.

One person only cannot make any change- this is also another counter argument people use. It is true that one person cannot make a change but it all starts with you as an individual before it becomes the entire society. The best way is to have the motivation and pass it onto others as well in doing the right thing.

Safety in numbers- it is based on the belief that numbers lessen obligation to the society. However how can we judge ourselves using others? We are different and we have different convictions, if others jump off the bridge one will not so it is best to make individual decisions based on our own convictions.

Define Singer’s concept of marginal utility, and explain how this concept relates to his argument.

Marginal utility in this case is based on the point at which giving even an extra unit of cash will lead to suffering of the giver or his dependants in the same extent as the other person in Bengal. Singer argues that we should give only to the point where giving will mean that we shall suffer as well. So if everyone is giving out £5, then one can give the same amount or more depending on his capability.

Compare how the ideas of duty and charity are different in Singer’s proposed world as opposed to how they are currently used in our society.

According to Singer, duty is responsibility. It is our responsibility to look out for each other especially in times of need. It is our duty to be our brother’s keeper. Charity is all about sacrifice, giving out to ensure someone else gets something more important than you would have, had you not given out. Currently duty is what one does so as to get paid or for benefits. For instance a person’s job is a duty but giving back to the society and helping people is not a duty, it is an act of philanthropy. Charity is all about helping people especially when there is publicity or when it aids in hiding something else. In a nutshell what duty and charity is in the contemporary society is far much different from what Singer describes it to be.

Finally, present your personal response to Singer (this should be no more than one page of the entire assignment). Develop an argument either in support of Singer’s position, against his position, or somewhere in the middle in relation to his position. Remember that when you present your own positions you need to support those positions with as much logical reasoning and factual evidence as possible. 

I completely agree with Singer, just as poverty and death knows no language, race or country, kindness should not as well. We live in a world where there is inter-dependence, today its one person who requires help and tomorrow it’s the other. It is our obligation to help each other especially in times of need. Helping does not simply mean feeding people it’s also about showing them how to fish to prevent the same situation from recurring.

A good example is during the time of Hurricane Katrina, very many countries in the world came out to help the victims in New Orleans, inclusive of China. Then the Tsunami hit China and it was time for the world to assist the victims. In a world of natural catastrophes, the last thing we need to say is that every man for himself. Responsibility is not to something or someone that helps you, responsibility is about acts of humanity, giving in to our convictions. This is something we need to teach children as they grow up and have it embedded into their conscience. That responsibility and charity is a priority in our interactions. Responsibility is all about giving back to the society, especially because we always have set expectations from the society and the government. Charity is all about making sacrifices for other people regardless of whether you know or do not know them. Charity is all about the greater good, it about, as Singer put it, allowing our clothes to get muddy in order to save a drowning child in a pool of water. It general it is about the greater good: saving people.


Singer, P. (1972). Famine, Affluence, and Morality: Journal of Philosophy and Public Affairs, Volume 1, no 1. Springer Publishers