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Global Poverty And Effective Altruism

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Peter Singer provides a variety of resources and insights into the question of charity and giving aid to foreign infinities and people in poverty. He clearly asserts that he doesn’t believe people do as much as they should, and thus should follow their moral obligation to give a percentage of their wealth. I think one of the arguments with this question is the concept of nations helping others, even though they may feel a special obligation to help their own citizens that could be in lesser need. As singer states in his paper Famine, Affluence, and Mortality, “The fact that a person is physically near to us… may make it more likely that we shall assist him, but this does not show that we ought to help him rather than another who happens to be further away.” (Singer, 1972). This assertion suggests often people focus on the ones near them or in their nation while really their obligation is to the people that need it most. This is a volatile issue today, especially in the political world we live in where some countries are in conflict and deny the cries of the most impoverished while building their own country greater.

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The negative arguments against this theory and to this question do not so much revolve around the concept of others, but rather on the ways and resources to help with. One issue that Singer addresses in his above-mentioned paper is that sometimes the charities that receive the “morally obligated” donations use them to do what they think is helpful to an impoverished country without asking. In the example in the reading of the water well play pump case study, millions were spent on a supposed more efficient solution to pumping water that the locals ending up detesting and stating were less effective and hurt the supply. Money being used for things like this were proposed to bring about the most happiness, but ultimately wasted money and left a community with nothing (Wisor, 2017). Situations like these and the global issue of “voluntourism” can come from a feeling of moral obligation to help but not be for the right reasons and ultimately not help.

The basis of this ethical dilemma is if people with the means to give are obligated to do so and assist with poverty, and I believe that answer is yes. Maybe not always in the exact thoughts of percentages given and requiring people who see others not giving to cover for them, but giving to the point of marginal utility makes sense. I think along with the obligation to give comes the responsibility to be sure the NGO or other agency you give to is valid and uses the money appropriately and with altruism in mind to ensure the greatest benefit for the impoverished. However, I think that the bottom line is that Peter Singer’s philosophy on effective altruism raises a lot of valid points that solidify peoples moral duty to help those less fortunate when they have the means to do so.

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Global Poverty And Effective Altruism. (2021, September 29). Edubirdie. Retrieved December 10, 2023, from
“Global Poverty And Effective Altruism.” Edubirdie, 29 Sept. 2021,
Global Poverty And Effective Altruism. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 10 Dec. 2023].
Global Poverty And Effective Altruism [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2021 Sept 29 [cited 2023 Dec 10]. Available from:
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