Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Paper 4 Extra Credit




in class and through the Turnitin system


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


First, examine the webpages of these organizations:

·        The $10 Club (

·        AfricaCare:

·        The Children’s Defense Fund:


In this paper, you should present and critically discuss Peter Singer’s arguments regarding world poverty (Mylan Engel and James 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) 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.


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

Your papers should have these sections:

Title: ________.

1. Introduction
An introduction, culminating in a thesis, e.g., “I 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!

2. Singer’s Argument
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 ofthe Pond, Dora and Bob Explain what role these kinds of examples play in his argument.

3. Objections
Carefully explain at least three of what you think are the best objections to Singer’s argument. Present these objections as valid arguments.


4. Evaluation of these objections and Singer’s argument
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?!


5. Conclusion
Explain things in your own words: do not take exact words from the book or any handouts. NO PLAGIARISM. Think for yourself!


If start supporting some worthy cause (e.g., the $10 Club), then not only will you have helped better the lives of people living in absolute poverty, you will get a free poster that says, “I took Philosophical Ethics and all I did was save a child’s life!


I know of no better place to start – in terms of efficiently making a direct, concrete difference in people’s lives – than The $10 Club (


Other excellent suggestions for organizations that you could support are found in this book at:


Also, see Might you be morally obligated to visit each day to click so that more food is purchased to feed people in absolute poverty?

Dr. Franklin’s Convocation speech also has some relevant discussion of these issues, “Facing the Rising Sun: A New Day Begun”

Here were some of the notes and worksheets we used:

A powerpoint :

Video clip:


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 richestpeople.
• 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.