Famine, Affluence And Morality By Peter Singer

1658 Words7 Pages
“It makes no moral difference whether the person I can help is a neighbour’s child ten yards from me or a Bengali whose name I shall never know, ten thousand miles away” (Singer, Peter). This was the main thesis of Peter Singer’s renowned 1971 essay, “Famine, Affluence, and Morality”. During that period, the world was becoming increasingly globalized and international. As a result, this essay sparked widespread debate, which subsequently led to a breakthrough in the study of ethics. However, 43 years after the inception of this essay, is this quote still applicable today? I believe that it is, and hence, I take the stand of Peter Singer’s - that richer countries should indeed help poorer countries in need, in terms of humanitarian and development…show more content…
For example, in the USA, the government provides federal aid through programs such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, which provides food-purchasing assistance for low or no income people living in the USA ("Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)."). In addition, all these people living in such richer countries are provided with basic infrastructure, basic sanitation and basic healthcare, satisfying their fundamental needs to survive. In comparison, people in poorer countries are unable to even fulfill their most primitive necessities and have no other means to do so. This is particularly evident in Cambodia, where economic gains from rapid industrialization are so unevenly distributed that it left an extreme number of rural Cambodians living the poverty line ("Cambodia: Bearing Scars & Beauty."). However, unlike richer countries, the Cambodian government lacks financial resources to provide the people with aid and infrastructure as they continue to slowly recover from the crippling civil war in the 1970s. This almost total lack of resources also brings rise to extremely poor sanitation and healthcare conditions, resulting in 60,000 Cambodians dying each year due to waterborne illnesses, which could be avoided if they were provided with clean…show more content…
All of these richer countries are part of the United Nations (UN), an international community “committed to promoting social progress, better living standards and human rights”, as stated by Chapter 1 of the UN Charter ("Charter, United Nations, Chapter I”). Thus, richer countries are obligated to promote human rights and better living standards across the international community - to benefit not only themselves, but also people in LEDCs. In addition, it has been stated in The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 28 that “Everyone is entitled to a social and international order in which the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration can be fully realized” (“The Universal Declaration of Human Rights”). As such, when their rights cannot be realized through national means, people in poorer countries are entitled to international help, where advanced technology and a surplus of resources is available to warrant substantial and significant aid to these poorer countries. As human beings are moral agents, they are “entitled to universal protection regardless of proximity, ethnicity, nationality, or citizenship” (Amstutz 211). When people suffer from hunger, disease, malnutrition, and other calamities that infringe their rights, their fundamental worth as moral agents is compromised (Amstutz 212). In Colombia, where poverty still plagues many of its people, street crime is
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