Reflection for 10/22/2015
As one of the assignments for the Becoming Globally Engaged class, students are expected to respond to reflection prompts on a weekly basis. Here is the prompt and my response for the week of Oct 22, 2015.
What do you think of Peter Singer’s arguments? Do you feel obligated to help those in need? Why or why not? If so, what are you going to do about it? If not, how would you support your reasoning to someone who sided with Singer?
At face value, Peter Singer presents a very convincing argument filled with ethos-based and yet extremely pragmatic rhetoric. He hits on the sympathetic aspect of things, asking, “If you would save a baby right in front of you, why not save a baby in another country?” Then he asks, “Why provide 1 seeingeye dog, when you could save thousands of blind people? He then goes on to say and promote the idea that “All Lives are Equal”. and this is where I begin to disagree with his arguments. Inherently in the string of belief that one ought to be utilitarian in their approach to charity, lives become unequal. The lives that are essentially cheaper and more efficient to save become the more valuable ones. Suddenly 10,000 lives in a country overseas become more valuable than 5,000 lives in the United States, and if one only follows this logic, they will end up totally avoiding a group of people who, in that case, have had the misfortune of being born in the country with a currency equal to or more valuable than the American dollar. Essentially, taking a utilitarian point of view on things means that the ends completely outweigh the means, and when human lives are at hand, this becomes intrinsically immoral, no matter how pragmatic.
With that said, I do feel obligated to help those in need in that I feel that people ought to give back to the societies in which they were raised. When I could buy a six dollar coffee from Starbucks, I could also buy a t shirt for a child wearing rags, or a dinner for someone less fortunate. Because of my religious beliefs, also, I feel that helping those in need is the right thing to do and I do have a moral obligation to spread love and attempt to make the world a better place.
I like the idea that it is possibly more beneficial to physically volunteer in one’s own society while giving actual money to foreign ones, and that is the road I’ll take in my charity efforts.