Why give – part 6

Give, because it’s morally right!

You might not want to hear this, but I think you should. Peter Singer, a world renowned philosopher wrote in 1972 a seminal essay Famine, Affluence, and Morality. In it he points out that most of us would not hesitate to rescue a drowning child from a shallow pond, even if our expensive shoes would be ruined. This seems to be an example of a general principle that “if it is in our power to prevent something bad from happening, without thereby sacrificing anything of comparable moral importance, we ought, morally, to do it.” It’s a sensible claim, and few would disagree. The punch-line of course is that you ought, rather than buy a bigger TV, donate your money to charity, thereby preventing an immense amount of bad from happening (every $0.50 donated toSchistosomiasis Control Initiative cures a person of parasitic worms for a full year).

You might resist the argument as I summarized it, but you ought to read the original essay before you disagree. As you can see, the decision whether to give or not give matters: for the recipient of your help, it is a year of pain or a year without it; for you, it is just fifty cents. Can two quarters more in your pocket be as important as the absence of pain for someone else?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *