According to Peter Singer, a professor of Bioethics at Princeton University, the ordinary American has an obligation to the world’s poor. He suggests that for the first time in history we, as individuals, are in a position to end extreme poverty. He spoke here at the Council last week on this, and, as Tactical Philanthropy points out today, on Colbert Nation last night!
In his new book, The Life You Can Save, Singer argues that our current minimal response to poverty is ethically indefensible. Quoting a NY Times article from Tuesday, Singer lays out his argument as such:
“First premise: Suffering and death from lack of food, shelter and medical care are bad.
Second premise: If it is in your power to prevent something bad from happening, without sacrificing anything nearly as important, it is wrong not to do so.
Third premise: By donating to aid agencies, you can prevent suffering and death from lack of food, shelter and medical care, without sacrificing anything nearly as important.
Conclusion: Therefore, if you do not donate to aid agencies, you are doing something wrong.”
To reject this argument, Mr. Singer writes, “you need to find a flaw in the reasoning.” He goes on to offer practical ways to tackle global poverty through philanthropy, local activism and political awareness. To listen to his talk at the Council last week, click here.
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