Essay on Singer’s Argument on Famine Relief

Published: 2021/12/17
Number of words: 654

The primary thesis considered by Peter Singer describes the obligation of societies in relation to famine relief. The scholar adopts the premise that it is immoral for the affluent in the society not to provide help by not donating to human aid organizations. The need for famine relief in different communities arises from the advent of factors such as constant poverty, civil war, and other disasters such as cyclones. The nations and individuals that are in a position to provide help to the suffering groups need to take such steps since the affected groups are small compared to the other communities. However, a large part of the population that is in a position to help fails to take the decisive action that would alleviate human suffering.

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In most situations where individuals are suffering due to lack of food, governments and individuals cannot claim to be unaware of the situation. In this situation, the groups that are in a position to help are not willing to provide the needed help. In most cases, they are not willing to help since the relief programs are seen as not offering returns. However, the perception adopts a limited view since the affected groups are likely to grow into the future and might have adverse effects on community structures (Singer, 2009). The fact that people are not willing to help communities affected by drought can be tied to the eccentric view where they might view death by starvation as not being bad. Singer states that individuals and communities ought to consider the benefits accrued by helping the afflicted against the harm it might cause if such steps are not taken. In a society where systems and individuals are concerned with helping those affected by famine or war, the move will likely in a changed community. In offering help, issues such as distance should not be taken into account (Singer, 2009). The world is turning into a global village, and the existing logistical networks would ensure relief reaches the needed groups. Individuals are encouraged to help without considering the help coming from other quarters. Each case where individuals require assistance needs to appeal to humanity and result in individuals providing help without considering issues such as proximity and individual contribution in relation to others (Singer, 2009). One ought to understand that not each person in the community is in a position to provide the same type of help. Each person should provide the much they can, and it would go a long way to helping.

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Singer adopts a line of thought where charity should be such that societies think of giving toward worthy causes before spending on luxuries. The affluent sectors of the community have to strive to make other people happy, and such measures cannot be termed as being wrong. The measures proposed by Singer can be termed as noble but might be opposed by various groups. The measures to alleviate human suffering might be seen as drastic since it seeks to revise the moral scheme (Singer, 2009). The affluent groups might feel they are being condemned for being well-off, and they are expected to offer help to the less fortunate. They might feel that they are unfairly targeted and their current measures towards helping the less fortunate are not taken into account. The groups expected also feel that they are being asked to sacrifice their resources to help other sectors of the community and it might result in depletion of wealth. They might be pulled back into poverty, and they would be part of the burden they strived to deal with. The society ought to come up with comprehensive structures to deal with afflicted groups and also prevent activities that may result in need for relief.


Singer, P. (2009). The Life You Can Save. In M. Timmons, Disputed Moral Issues: A Reader 4th Edition (4th ed., pp. 648-660). Oxford University Press.

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