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“The Singer Solution to World Poverty” is an essay addressing how to reduce poverty, by Peter Singer, a modern moral philosopher. Singer suggests that Americans should give away majority of their income to help others in need. Singer thinks that, to solve poverty, it is ethically right to give up luxuries and excess to use for ending world hunger and withholding that excess financial good for oneself is basically the same as letting a child starve.
Singer uses “Central Station,” a Brazilian movie, as an example of his thoughts in action. In “Central Station,” a former schoolteacher is promised $1,000 if she convinces a homeless child to come with her to an address, where she doesn’t know what his fate will be. After Dora has already spent some of the money on a new TV, she is just too troubled by the fact the child will likely be killed and his organs sold, and thus decides to take the boy back to resolve her moral conflict. Singer likens this to how Americans spend in excess on luxuries instead of using their money to save children in live or death situations. Singer points out that these situations are very similar, it’s just a difference of ignoring situations that you’re around or that you’re not.
Singer gives another example in “Bob” and his expensive Bugatti, which is his pride and joy. He is parked at a railway and sees a runaway train down a way, but he also sees a young child on the tracks. He can change the switch on the train tracks to divert the train’s path away from the child, but that would direct the train towards his prized Bugatti. Bob chooses not to switch the car and allows it to kill the child, thinking of his own financial investment in the car as more valuable than the child’s life. Singer uses this example to suggest that Americans do have the choice to give up their luxuries to improve a child’s life, but it is a choice they do have to make.
Personally, I do agree with Singer. While his examples are a touch outlandish and extreme, the point is clear and important. People have the opportunity to improve the lives of others, but that would require people to stop acting selfishly and stop turning a blind eye on the challenges others face. My views do often lean socialist, so the views expressed by Singer don’t seem unusual or new to me. Singer does seem to lose sight of his goal; does he want his audience to just be conscious to give up a few dollars, or does he want them to give up every luxury? He does mean well, though, and I feel that is clear and overarching enough to maintain my agreement.
Singer is not asking too much of his audience, as he is only asking them to do the morally right thing. In all the philosophies studied this semester, I’ve most agreed with anyone who calls for doing the right thing regardless of personal sacrifice, and those who speak of ethical decisions being the source of happiness and pleasure. Similar to how I believe the actions of the Chambonnaise were obligatory, I feel that using one’s excess to benefit those in need is obligatory. It’s like tithing to a church, a regular donation of a substantial portion of one’s income to benefit the community, charities, and others in need.

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