Singer 2006 essay nyt

T he fair share theorists would say that if we each

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Unformatted text preview: g child in the shallow pond. I magine it is not 1 small child who has fallen in, but 5 0 children. We are among 5 0 adults, unrelated to the children, picnicking on the lawn around the pond. We can easily wade into the pond and rescue the children, and the fact that we would find it cold and unpleasant sloshing around in the knee- deep muddy water is no justification for failing to do so. T he “fair share” theorists would say that if we each rescue one child, all the children will be sav ed, and so none of us hav e an obligation to sav e more than one. But what if half the picnickers prefer stay ing clean and dry to rescuing any children at all? I s it acceptable if the rest of us stop after we hav e rescued just one child, knowing that we hav e done our fair share, but that half the children will drown? We might justifiably be furious with those who are not doing their fair share, but our anger with them is not a reason for letting the children die. I n terms of praise and blame, we are clearly right to condemn, in the strongest terms, those who do nothing. I n contrast, we may withhold such condemnation from those who stop when they hav e done their fair share. Ev en so, they hav e let children drown when they could easily hav e sav ed them, and that is wrong. Similarly , in the real world, it should be seen as a serious moral failure when those with ample income do not do their fair share toward reliev ing global pov erty . I t isn’t so easy , howev er, to decide on the proper approach to take to those who limit their contribution to their fair share when they could easily do more and when, because others are not play ing their part, a further donation would assist many in desperate need. I n the priv acy of our own judgment, we should believ e that it is wrong not to do more. But whether we should actually criticize people who are doing their fair share, but no more than that, depends on the psy chological impact that such criticism will hav e on them, and on others. T his in turn may depend on social practices. I f the majority are doing little or nothing, setting a standard higher than the fair- share lev el may seem so demanding that it discourages people who are willing to make an equitable contribution from doing ev en w w w .ny times .c om/2006/12/17/magaz ine/17c har ity .t.html?_r =0&pagew anted=pr int 9/10 Sho1/l14a1Billionair e Giv e – and What Should You? - New Yor k Times ud / 3 that. So it may be best to refrain from criticizing those who achiev e the fair- share lev el. I n mov ing our society ’s standards forward, we may hav e to progress one step at a time. For more than 30 y ears, I ’v e been reading, writing and teaching about the ethical issue posed by the jux taposition, on our planet, of great abundance and life- threatening pov erty . Y et it was not until, in preparing this article, I calculated how much America’s T op 1 0 percent of income earners actually make that I fully understood how easy it would be for the world’s rich to eliminate, or v irtually eliminate, global pov erty . (I t has actually become much easier ov er the last 30 y ears, as the rich hav e grown significantly richer.) I found the result astonishing. I double- checked the figures and asked a research assistant to check them as well. But they were right. Measured against our capacity , the Millennium Dev elopment Goals are indecently , shockingly modest. I f we fail to achiev e them — as on present indications we well might — we hav e no ex cuses. T he target we should be setting for ourselv es is not halv ing the proportion of people liv ing in ex treme pov erty , and without enough to eat, but ensuring that no one, or v irtually no one, needs to liv e in such degrading conditions. T hat is a worthy goal, and it is well within our reach. Peter S inger is the I ra W. DeCamp professor of bioethic s at the Center for Human Values at Princ eton University. He is the author of many book s, inc luding most rec ently “T he Way We Eat: Why Our Food Choic es Matter.” Co p yri g h t 2 0 0 6 T h e Ne w Y o rk T i m e s Co m p a n y P ri va cy P o l i cy S e a rch Co rre cti o n s RSS Fi rst L o o k w w w .ny times .c om/2006/12/17/magaz ine/17c har ity .t.html?_r =0&pagew anted=pr int He l p Co n ta ct Us Wo rk fo r Us S i te M a p 10/10...
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This homework help was uploaded on 03/04/2014 for the course PPOL 4770 taught by Professor Martin during the Spring '11 term at UVA.

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