Is it a Developed Country's Moral Duty to Assist Poorer Nations? Essay

Submitted By khann3r
Words: 1696
Pages: 7

PHIL 226 Biomedical Ethics Section 001, Winter 2015, Prof. Lowry
Essay number 2, Question number 1
1600 words

Hunger and diseases related to malnutrition, subsequently direct consequences of poverty, have caused 45% of deaths in children under five; 3.1 million children each year, and around 8,500 children per day (The Hunger Project, 2014). Peter Singer would argue that morally, it is vital that residents of developed countries provide their services to benefit the poor. If it is in the power of a nation to provide services towards remedying poverty and hunger, such as charity or other kinds of help (monetary support), then that nation must be morally obligated to do so. The points that I will be arguing are in line with the above statement due to the fact that firstly, if a rich nation can prevent the negative outcomes associated with hunger and poverty from happening without sacrificing anything in return that holds comparable moral value, then that nation should take cause towards it simply because they have the power to do so. Secondly, the legal system an affluent nation has should influence the morality of the citizens residing in it by making it mandatory to pay some sort of extra tax or fee towards humanitarian aid to end hunger and poverty; have the rich give to the poor. Having a beneficial tax similar to environmental fees found on new products would give an incentive for citizens to provide monetary support to people in need – yet another reason for rich countries to provide support. Finally, we can prevent many people from dying of hunger by foregoing our own luxuries, which are less important than the wellbeing of thousands of people in need. This is due to the fact that citizens of a nation can easily sacrifice things of comparable moral significance towards a good cause – such as not buying new phones, cars, etc. Thus, what I and Singer would believe in would be that we ought to prevent people from dying of poverty and hunger by sacrificing our own luxuries living in an affluent society because it is morally indefensible if we have people living in abundance whilst others starve.

Singer's utilitarian approach would be the best way to argue that rich countries have a duty to help with hunger and poverty as it is a theory that deals with the belief that moral actions maximize utility, and that utility includes things such as pleasure, well-being, and the absence of suffering (Wikipedia, n.d. para 1). Applying Singer's approach would maximize effectiveness towards ending world hunger and poverty as the affluent nation would be morally obligated to do so. Rich people acting in a moral manner towards the betterment of citizens suffering in this case pays off as if something is morally correct, then we can prevent a negative outcome and have a good outcome, in this case, reducing and eventually eradicating hunger and poverty. This form of utilitarianism incorporates consequentialism seen in Singer's article, 'Rich and Poor' where if something is morally right it will produce a good consequence, if not, the action is immoral (Singer, 2013). As long as we as a nation is not sacrificing something of equal value, such as cutting funding towards other humanitarian aid to help out towards this cause, it is morally baseless that a nation have their citizens suffer whilst other live prosperously. Through this, Singer would state that it is vital for citizens of developed, affluent countries to give more to causes that help the poor. A mix of consequentialism and utilitarianism, affluent people would essentially be coerced into donating to charitable causes because it would be the right thing to do and would maximize utility in ending suffering. Although some criticizers of Singer might say that a consequentialist outlook coupled with utilitarianism would essentially just be guilting rich people into donating – tarnishing any moral aspect; Singer states that “the injunction to prevent what is bad applies only