Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Paper 3:

Are you morally obligated to donate 25 cents a day to help people living in absolute poverty?

4-5 pages, typed, double-spaced, 12 pt. font, name, email, class time.

Due at the time of the final exam. 12 pm class:_________________; 1 pm class _______________________

This is a group paper: you can write this paper in a group of up to 3 people, if you’d like. For a variety of reasons, I think this approach will help you better address the issue. Each person’s name should be on the paper; each person should contribute equally to the thinking behind the paper, the writing and the proofreading.

Some information:

How many people in the world live in extreme poverty?
According to NetAid, over a billion people, or roughly one in six, live in extreme poverty. Extreme poverty is defined as living on less than US$1 a day.
The World Bank goes on to define moderate poverty as basic subsistence living, on $1 to $2 a day. All told, nearly half the world's population lives in poverty -- that's 2.8 billion people living on less than two dollars a day. Some other facts to keep in mind:
• Each year over 8 million people die because they are simply too poor to stay alive.
• More than 800 million people go hungry every day.
• The gross domestic product of the poorest 48 nations is less than the wealth of the world's three richest people.
• Thirty-thousand children die every day due to hunger and treatable illnesses.
• 6 million children die every year before their fifth birthday, as a result of malnutrition.

First, see these web pages:

Then review our readings and meet to discuss and start work on the paper:

In this paper, you should present and critically discuss Peter Singer’s arguments regarding world poverty (Engel and Rachels prove some useful information and arguments also). You should make the discussion personal – i.e., think about what you personally should do. Start small and consider whether Peter Singer gives a sound argument for the conclusion that you (perhaps with some of your friends or family or members of your paper group!) are morally obligated donate a quarter a day (= $10 a month) to help people living in absolute poverty. So your thesis should either be this:

  • “I will argue that I am morally obligated to donate $.25 a day to help the world’s poor,” or
  • “I will argue that I am not morally obligated to donate $.25 to help the world’s poor.”

Your thesis must be carefully and rigorously defended. Your papers should have an introduction that culminates in a thesis, e.g., “I (or we) will argue that ______.” Your introduction should introduce the issue or topic to the reader. Assume your reader does not know anything about the topic or the article. You need to explain things so they will understand: see things from their point of view and write accordingly!

You need a section where you carefully and fully explain Singer’s argument, i.e., his conclusion [what exactly is his conclusion? What conclusion have we been considering, for purposes of discussion?] and the reasoning he gives for his conclusion. Singer uses the examples of the Pond, Dora and Bob Explain what role these kinds of examples play in his argument.
Carefully explain at least three of what you think are the best objections to Singer’s argument. Present these objections as valid arguments. Explain whether any of the objections are sound arguments against his argument. Explain whether Singer’s argument is sound, and why, and whether it is not sound. That is, is Singer right, or are the objectors? Should you do something (if yes, what?) to help people living in absolute poverty? Why or why not? DEFEND YOUR VIEW WITH REASONS. Defend your view from objections: e.g., does your response imply that it would not be wrong for you to let a child drown in a pond, even if you could easily save the child?! Your paper should have a conclusion. See the Vaughn book for a review on writing philosophy.