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Debate Info

13
18
Yes No
Debate Score:31
Arguments:21
Total Votes:37
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Argument Ratio

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 Yes (8)
 
 No (12)

Debate Creator

peterc(39) pic



Do those in affluent countries have a MORAL OBLIGATION to help those suffering in poverty?

To what extent must our conception of the good life be responsive to the needs and claims of others individually, locally, nationally and globally?

In his 1972 paper, Famine, Affluence and Morality, Peter Singer argues that if it is in our power to prevent something bad from happening (like death and suffering from lack of food, shelter and medical care) without sacrificing something of comparable moral importance, then we ought to do it.

This principle entails that we give to the point of 'marginal utility' - that is, to the point that by 'giving more I would cause as much suffering to myself or my dependents as I would relieve by my gift.'  This means reducing oneself to very near the material circumstances of a refugee.

For Singer, we can't say that we are living good lives if we are not responding to this need.

Yes

Side Score: 13
VS.

No

Side Score: 18
2 points

Like for a tbh..........................................................

Side: Yes
1 point

I would support any act of giving aid to others as a humanitarian action if to do so is to help people to sustain and develop their independence.

However if such an action created future dependence upon the giver then that would not be worthy.

Side: Yes
peterc(39) Disputed
1 point

Considering Singer's ideas, it seems that this moral obligation would be imposed on us so long as there is suffering going on in the world - which, we can safely assume, will always be the case. To what extent would that constrain a person to continue giving for the rest of their lives?

Often when I contribute to organisations like Oxfam or World Vision I continue to receive emails and letters asking me to contribute more and more.

I guess my question is; when is this obligation satisfied? If I give $100 a year, have I satisfied my moral obligation? Or, every time I go to the movies or buy an ice cream am I acting immorally because I could be donating that money to famine relief?

Side: No
DKCairns(869) Clarified
1 point

The obligation will never be satisfied because demand will never cease.

There will always be a conundrum about giving and how much is enough especially when the giving has the potential to be manipulated by playing upon our emotions

At the end of the day we have to sleep at night comfortable in whatever decision we make

Side: Yes
1 point

I do believe that we have somewhat of a moral obligation to those suffering in poverty. I find it impossible to overlook the deaths of thousands of children from preventable illnesses, and thus believe we are obliged to contribute in someway. But it is still the case that people in affluent countries work hard for their money and have the right to use it for themselves.

Side: Yes
1 point

Singer supports his view with the case of the drowning child; surely you have an obligation to jump into a shallow pond you are passing by if you see a small child fall into it (even if it meant ruining your expensive shoes). To simply walk on would be abhorrent. Equally, we have an obligation to jump online and give money using our credit cards to relieve death and suffering from poverty - you could save a life for the same cost as a pair of shoes. It doesn't matter that the dying child in Bangladesh is further away.

Side: Yes
-2 points
emilgrun(2) Disputed
2 points

Is it really in human nature for those who have more to give to others that are poor? Aren't we inherently selfish? Perhaps it would be more accurate to say that those who have more receive increased social pressure to donate to charities and such. If it really was in human nature then these billionaires, and even millionaires, would be giving away much more than they actually are - instead some even choose to amass so much wealth that it is impossible for them to spend that amount in their lifetime.

I think that those who have less might actually be more likely to donate - they are the ones who understand what it's like to just get by, or to lack the basics. People who have heaps may, at times, be somewhat detached from the rest of humanity - it's harder to empathise with those that you cannot relate to.

Side: No
Viv12(1) Disputed
1 point

Is it really? If this is the case and it is human nature why do we have selfish people and starving people?

Side: No
RileyN(9) Disputed
1 point

On the contrary I believe it is in human nature to be selfish and to only be concerned with ourselves or family. We only have to look at the current state of third world countries compared to affluent nations to see that those who have more don't give to those who are poor.

Side: No
3 points

If it becomes an obligation to help others, this seems to take away from people's agency. Surely if we must always choose the act that helps others rather than a selfish one, you could justify never eating full meals when you could use the money to buy meals for others, or never getting an education when you could be building a shelter in another country. Thus, if everyone was obliged to help others all the time, no one could be justified in furthering themselves, and advancing society. If sacrifices should be made for the long term, surely it is better to sacrifice the hopeless poverty stricken people to advance science and other fields of society, rather than always sacrificing the modern lifestyle we've created and regressing to help poor people who will always exist no matter what we do (homelessness from natural disasters is unavoidable for example).

Side: No
emilgrun(2) Disputed
2 points

Perhaps if you help the poorer nations, and the poverty-stricken individuals, then we would advance, not regress. Consider how many individuals there are in 3rd world countries whose potential remains unexhausted. Consider the good they could do for humanity, and in turn for our society, if they were only given the opportunity?

Side: Yes
1 point

'Moral obligation' is pretty strong...this implies that we are acting immorally if we don't give. I don't think not giving is the same as harming someone or stealing from them. It's a great good to give yes and people who do should be applauded, but i'm not sure i'm comfortable with saying that it's wrong or immoral not to give.

Side: No
1 point

I hold morality in little esteem, but particularly where it is so impractically detached from reality as this notion. Nations and individuals have practical obligations towards themselves which I would contend are perfectly legitimate to place first. From whence does one derive this moral obligation when it is so evidently out of line with our evolutionary reality?

P.S. I notice as well that Singer does not appear to have lived a life of near poverty in accordance with his own moral philosophy; what might we make of that, I wonder?

Side: No
1 point

None whatsoever. All the so called affluent countries have large numbers of their own citizens living in squalor and extreme poverty. It is the responsibility of all governments to assist the needy of their respective countries and let other nations look after their own poor. All too often the countries which create homelessness and poverty among their populations have sufficient funds to finance expensive sophisticated weapons of war. For instance, when do we call a halt to the influx of Muslim immigrants? Would it be 10 million? 50 million? 100 million. Have the sanctimonious ''do-gooders'' even given any thought at all to the permanent damage the so called refugees are going to cause to the countries which they infest?

Side: No
JemiDunh(1) Disputed
3 points

According to recent studies made by the World Health Organisation (WHO) nearly 870 million people in the world are suffering from extreme hunger. However, of those people, 98 percent are living in developing countries. This suggests that our efforts to help those suffering in poverty in our own affluent countries are wasted, or at least would be far more significant in the developing world.

Though, I do agree with you that it is the flaw of many governments that they pour too much of their finances into weaponry and war, this is not limited to countries in the developing world. Indeed, the affluent countries may be criticised for this same problem, pouring money in to generate military resources, when they could be donating this money to relieve famine and poverty across the globe.

Side: Yes
teahisabella(1) Disputed
2 points

I think those in affluent countries do have a moral obligation to helping those in poverty. Whilst we do have our own citizens to worry about, and perhaps take care of first, I still think that we should help those who are suffering. As Singer has argued, if we see a drowning child we should save them without a second thought, I don't see how this changes if another child simply lives further away from us. If we give a little, like 5% or 10% of our income, this could make a huge change in someone else's life while it does not affect us very heavily.

Side: Yes
1 point

I believe we all prefer to spend money on other things or things we see more. Instant gratification makes everyone less inclined to help as although a situation may be urgent the may end up not seeing anything for weeks amd that will often make the process less gratifying as we all desire that instant reaction to an event we have done in order to feel good about it

Side: No
1 point

What we're seeing is nature's ''natural selection'' process whereby the lower orders of a species, i.e. those who are incapable of fending for themselves perish so the strong will survive and flourish, thus producing a generically superior strain of the species. This evolutionary process exists throughout the animal kingdom. When nature's grand plan is thwarted by mankind's, so called, superior intelligence the result is the suffering of millions of people who didn't develop sufficient intellect to master the environment in which they live suffering a slow miserable lingering and painful death. The money sponge which is Africa is a good example of untold £ billions being wasted just to keep people barely alive in a state of ill health, bewilderment and humiliation.

Side: No