Critical Acclaim Philosophy

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Critical Acclaim Philosophy

Critical Acclaim Philosophy


The argument of Peter Singer is that if we are saw a child drowning in a pond, we will be morally obliged to save that child even though it will mean that our cloths will become muddy. The reason for this is that the cost incurred for the act of saving a life is insignificant. This argument holds true if the child is in a similar life threatening danger in some other country and we can help him by incurring the same amount of cost. We can do this by contributing money to relief agencies to help such people in distress instead of indulging in unnecessary luxuries.

In this regard, a person who chooses to buy unnecessary luxury items instead of giving that money to a reliable relief agency is similar to a person who lets a child drown because he does not want to ruin his suit.

In this paper, the argument of Peter Singer will be explained and discussed in detail. In addition, a morally relevant feature will be contrasted against a solely psychological one, along with an in depth discussion on proximity being a morally relevant factor.


According to Singer (1972), if it is possible for us to reasonably prevent a bad thing from happening, without making a major sacrifice, then it is our moral obligation to do that thing. It should be clear that our actions should not be wrong or cause something else that is comparably bad. It is not about ends justifying the means. It is not permissible to justify a wrong activity with the positive outcomes that it creates. Singer is strictly talking about the fact that it is possible to put a stop to a bad thing without sacrificing anything of comparable moral importance, then we should by all means do it.

He explained this with the example of a drowning child. If you are walking past a shallow pond and you see a child drowning in the water, you will know that it is your duty to save that child. However, this act will result in your cloths to get drenched and muddy but this will be an insignificant price, which you will be willing to pay in order to do something of high moral importance. This is pretty much straightforward the that the importance of saving a child will greatly outweigh the cost of getting your cloths muddy.

In Singer (1997), he expanded the argument by stating that suppose that we see other people that are passing by and not doing anything to save the children from drowning. Should this stop us from saving the child? Of course not, as we are still obliged to do what is morally right irrespective of what the others are doing.

He asks us to consider that if the child was far away in some other country under a similar danger of death. If we can save him with the same amount of effort with no extra cost, will it make any difference? It ...
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