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World Hunger and Our Responsibilities

            At this moment, many people around the world are starving to death. Should we help them? Do we have a moral obligation to provide aid? People have very different views on this topic. An examination of essays by Peter Singer and by John Arthur gives insight into two of the many different opinions concerning the responsibility the affluent people have to the much less fortunate people. Also, these philosophers give explanations of the moral responsibility of society.
             In "Famine, Affluence and Morality," Peter Singer persuades people to help the people in need around the world. He explains that the wealthy people spend a great amount of money on trivial possessions, and this money could help to save lives. Singer explains, "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 (Singer 836)." Consequently, John Arthur argues that we have rights in "World Hunger and Moral Obligation." Arthur explains, "It seems to me, then, that a reasonable code would require people to help when there is no substantial cost to themselves, that is, when what they are sacrificing would not mean significant reduction in their own of their families" level of happiness (Arthur 852)." The difference in the two arguments is the extent to which we should give of ourselves. Singer believes that we should give until we reach the level of marginal utility, the level at which by giving more, we would cause more suffering than we would be relieving by the gift. Since we are extremely wealthy people compared to the poorest people of the world, much aid would be given before the level of marginal utility is reached. On the other hand, Arthur believes that we should only when doing so has no significant effect on our family or us. Consequently, giving until the level of marginal utility is reached would greatly impact any family.

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