The essence Singer’s argument on the article “Famine, Affluence, and Morality” is basically how morality (or the very idea of it at least) requires people to give aid for those who are less fortunate; in this case, the famine in Bengal. The question that I would like to raise is “in what sense does morality require us to give aid, given that it does not breach the person’s right to choose under his or her own accord minus the coercion by others?” People have very different concepts of right and wrong.
Yes, it is right to give aid. However, like what Singer mentioned, it is not wrong not to give aid. So, how can that entail any relation with morality? Since it is not morally wrong not to give aid, therefore morality does not require people to give aid to alleviate famine. It also negates the person’s freedom to choose if morality does require people to give aid, regardless of the amount of sacrifice that they will commit in order to give a significant amount of aid to the starving population.
On the other hand, Singer could defend his claim against my claim by restating the facts on morality. The thought of famine attacks the person’s conscience; if he or she could not help, then suffering will be prolonged. It is unimaginable that there will be some who are not bothered by their conscience. They are most likely pretending to be unbothered by it. The human conscience is somewhat related to morality—the values that people learn from social institutions. In that sense, in order to stop the conscience from bothering us, we should do something good to alleviate the bad thoughts. Hence, people are required to give aid in order to stop suffering from conscience attacks brought about by the thought of famine, since giving aid is the right thing to do.
Singer, P. (2005, July 28). Famine, Affluence, and Morality. Utilitarian.net. Retrieved May 7, 2009.