Are We Responsible For The Lives Of Others

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In his article "The Singer Solution to World Poverty," Peter Singers view on world poverty is seen simple in his eyes, but through the eyes of the readers his logic seems unrealistic. This is supported by Lichtenberg’s argument against Singer through examples of impossible logical reasoning, whereas Arneson uses philosophical reasoning. Even though his solution to child poverty is simplistic in that people are forced to give part of their income to the needy do not fit in the ideal world. Therefore, his arguments in solving world poverty leaves loop holes that need to be filled with logic and sense in understanding through eyes of Arneson, Lichtenberg , and the readers.
Singer’s view on child poverty is a bit unrealistic. The fact Singer is asking the people to sacrifice 70% of their income to the homeless children is unfair to the middle class and the people who live pay check to pay check. For example, for a household with a family income of $50,000, Singer suggests the poor should receive $20,000. I feel the family should not be forced to make that financial adjustment, especially a family of five because how will their own kids have food and education if half the income is going to the homeless children? For example, “Running a mile in four minutes is impossible for all but a small number of people in the world.” This statement by Lichtenberg implies that it is possible to run a mile in two minutes logically, but it is humanly (physically) impossible to do so. Even though, some people can in theory run a mile in two minutes, not everyone is capable of that strenuous exercise. Therefore, it is logically possible for people to give 70% of their income to the poor, but it is humanly impossible for them to accept that idea and be financially stable. I agree with Lichtenberg’s philosophy, which is that Singer demands abundant of financial sacrifice from Americans. Also, Singer’s statistics are foolish; if half family gives half their income then they will end up becoming homeless and their children will starve. However, I do believe people should give $200 or even $50 to the less fortunate to help those who had no choice of becoming homeless, like children.
Singer argues that people should continuously provide part of their income for global poverty. His solution would not decrease poverty, but make those in need to become dependent on the help of donations. Also, it will make them become accustomed to receiving help, and not allow the needy to elevate their economic status. “Suppose a well-off person, Wealthy, has only two choices: she can either pursue her own projects, which would yield one unit of moral value, or she can contribute some resources to a needy stranger.” Arneson thus gives an example of what the wealthy person’s opportunities are. He or she can supply money continuously for years to the poor or they can make resources for the poor like jobs, build schools, and so forth, that will allow the needy to maintain their own lives without depending on other countries for help.
His utilitarian, right-and-wrong philosophy can be too judgmental and categorizes one part of the consequences, such as poverty. For example, the way Singer asks everyone to give half of their income is too demanding, and each year the families’ conditions change. One year the family’s income might be one hundred thousand dollars, and the next year one of the parents loses a job that can tie a strain on the financial stability. What has happened in the past “may affect the costs and benefits that alternative current courses of action would achieve” (Arneson pg.42). Arneson outlines that an individual who has given a great deal of contribution to the well-being of the poor in the past has already done enough, and he should not be always obligated to donate money to the poor every year of his life. Some years a man is not able to fund for the less fortunate because it asks an abundant stake of self-sacrifice. Therefore, I agree with Arneson’s statement that people should not be coerced into being a Good Samaritan because it does not allow a lot of room for moral value. For example, a person being commanded to fund organizations aiding the poor would diminish her selfless actions because she is being forced into doing it; it is not voluntary and has nothing to do with charity. Also, people who are asked to give may become resentful, and it contradicts ethical conduct because they are not giving the money willingly, but through force.
Throughout the essay, Singer argues for just one cause -- child poverty -- to ignite sympathy with the people because everyone feels pain for children who are in a desperate situation. Singer does so to ignite an emotion within his readers to pick up the phone and make a change. There I do agree with his philosophy because no matter how we feel it is not our duty to help those children, it is up to the people on this earth to watch over each other and make sure injustice and cruelty does not dictate our society. However, if Singer had chosen AIDS research, people would be hesitant to even read the rest of the article and might have biased feelings towards the victims. When AIDS comes to mind, people feel it is the person’s fault for not taking better care of themselves and religious ties are attached. Also, AIDS is associated with HIV (sexually transmitted disease), where sympathy has no room, but blame. Therefore, Singer was careful to describe helping others with innocent children to give himself a chance to convince citizens to provide money to orphans and his point.
Lichtenberg questions the morality, “where to set the bar of moral requirement: how to distinguish what is obligatory.” Sometimes people feel obligated to save someone because they were taught as a small child through religious scripture or being thought to help the poor by parents. However, individuals have free will to decide what the right thing to do is based on their logical reasoning. On the other hand, Singer disagrees with the idea of our own determination of morality, but stands by his opinion. At one point he identifies himself as a “utilitarian philosopher,” I do believe there are limitations within this manner of evaluating right and wrong. Sometimes what we think is right always tends to have consequences that turn out to affect us wrongly. For example, when Singer mentions the man who saves his car instead of the boy, if it were the other way around, and the man saved the boy’s life, there would be the possibility that having his car pushed in front of the train could cause a life changing accident. The passengers on the train could be either seriously injured or killed through collision, the car could explode and the boy might be killed. Therefore, every choice has a connection to the outcome of the consequence for the society of mankind. Saving a woman from getting robbed could place one in the line of fire, saving a young boy could allow him to grow up and murder other people, and providing money to the homeless could give him a chance to buy more drugs. In the end every good act is either destructive or helpful or selfish, and people even donate to charities for tax benefits.
In the eyes of Singer he considers TV and other forms of comfortable life luxury. This is not fully supported because nowadays, people see necessity and luxury differently. People are used to receiving their news from digital or electronically, it is how society keeps up with the daily life around them. Nowadays everyone knows what is happening in the world and makes their own judgment. Furthermore, needs and luxuries have varied meanings depending on what another country, group of people, or class feels. In the United States toothpaste, shampoo, and deodorant is seen as a necessity, but a third world country like India would consider it to be a luxury that prosperous countries like America use to keep up their image. Therefore, Singer’s view on people using their money on luxuries is an unsupported statement because the meaning of necessity and luxury has changed since the last century. Moreover, it is unrealistic for Singer to suggest that Americans give half their money to poor nations because Americans would never stand for it politically. Americans as a whole complain about the high taxes they have to pay for; therefore, how can Singer suggest they give half their money away? Additionally, the United States economy is run on luxury: for instance, the automobile industry, malls, and electronics stores. Thus, United States would fall into the same category of being a third world country.
In Singer’s idea world everyone would be equal, and the needy would be taken care of by money. However, his plan overlooks important details regarding the long term effect on those being helped, how it will affect the family being forced to sacrifice their pay check, and the overall American view politically. As a result, his solution would place a grim shadow on the lives of American.





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