Xander Byng Peter Singer argues that most of us have very extensive obligations to the world's poor.
Environmentalists use the metaphor of the earth as a "spaceship" in trying to persuade countries, industries and people to stop wasting and polluting our natural resources. Since we all share life on this planet, they argue, no single person or institution has the right to destroy, waste, or use more than a fair share of its resources.
But does everyone on earth have an equal right to an equal share of its resources? The spaceship metaphor can be dangerous when used by misguided idealists to justify suicidal policies for sharing our resources through uncontrolled immigration and foreign aid. In their enthusiastic but unrealistic generosity, they confuse the ethics of a spaceship with those of a lifeboat.
A true spaceship would have to be under the control of a captain, since no ship could possibly survive if its course were determined by committee. Spaceship Earth certainly has no captain; the United Nations is merely a toothless tiger, with little power to enforce any policy upon its bickering members.
If we divide the world crudely into rich nations and poor nations, two thirds of them are desperately poor, and only one third comparatively rich, with the United States the wealthiest of all.
Metaphorically each rich nation can be seen as a lifeboat full of comparatively rich people.
In the ocean outside each lifeboat swim the poor of the world, who would like to get in, or at least to share some of the wealth. What should the lifeboat passengers do? First, we must recognize the limited capacity of any lifeboat. For example, a nation's land has a limited capacity to support a population and as the current energy crisis has shown us, in some ways we have already exceeded the carrying capacity of our land.
Adrift in a Moral Sea So here we sit, say 50 people in our lifeboat. To be generous, let us assume it has room for 10 more, making a total capacity of Suppose the 50 of us in the lifeboat see others swimming in the water outside, begging for admission to our boat or for handouts.
We have several options: The boat swamps, everyone drowns. Complete justice, complete catastrophe. Since the boat has an unused excess capacity of 10 more passengers, we could admit just 10 more to it. But which 10 do we let in? How do we choose? Do we pick the best 10, "first come, first served"?
And what do we say to the 90 we exclude? If we do let an extra 10 into our lifeboat, we will have lost our "safety factor," an engineering principle of critical importance. For example, if we don't leave room for excess capacity as a safety factor in our country's agriculture, a new plant disease or a bad change in the weather could have disastrous consequences.
Suppose we decide to preserve our small safety factor and admit no more to the lifeboat. Our survival is then possible although we shall have to be constantly on guard against boarding parties.
While this last solution clearly offers the only means of our survival, it is morally abhorrent to many people. Some say they feel guilty about their good luck. My reply is simple: The needy person to whom the guilt-ridden person yields his place will not himself feel guilty about his good luck.September 5, The Singer Solution to World Poverty By PETER SINGER Illustrations by ROSS MacDONALD.
The Australian philosopher Peter Singer, who later this month begins teaching at Princeton University, is perhaps the world's most controversial ethicist.
Because of the higher rate of population growth in the poor countries of the world, 88 percent of today's children are born poor, and only 12 percent rich.
Year by year the ratio becomes worse, as the fast-reproducing poor outnumber the slow-reproducing rich. Poor countries increase by % each year while rich increase only by.8%. If well meaning rich countries continue to feed and assist poor countries with no population control they will eventually run out of resources to the demise of all.
G. Hardin - "Living on a Lifeboat" (in James E. White text) If we give them access instead of a share, we must assume some of those people will be more selfish than we are.
since the rich deposit and the poor take. It's a TRANSFER system. Result: WE will pay, and enrich agri-business and shipping companies, to benefit people when it's.
The poorer countries seem to have higher birthrates, their populations would double before the richer countries so there would be an imbalance and the rich wouldn't be able to keep up. Ruin in the Commons The commons metaphor is basically the end result of shared space.
Unformatted text preview: The Singer Solution to World Poverty, he believes that the rich are obligated to aid the kaja-net.com argues that instead of going out for dinner, the money “spend at the restaurant could also help save the lives of children overseas”%(3).