The reading from Matt Ridley provides some insight into the origins of our ethical feelings,
but scientific knowledge does not provide for us how we should live. The philosophy
of ethics attempts to address these issues and one of the most prominent ethicists of the day
is Peter Singer. Read the following essay by Singer and answer the following questions
in 600 words:
1. Summarize the argument Singer makes for charitable giving in the essay.
2. Is he right or are their flaws in his line of thought?
3. We probably all want to be good people, but exactly how good should you be?
How can you draw a line between what is good enough and what is not? Where
is that line and how is it determined?
4. Many people are fond of saying that "right and wrong are only opinions" and
"what some may consider right, others may consider wrong". But suppose someone
steals your car and when you inform the police of this, they respond with, "Well,
you know, maybe the thief really needed the car, so they thought stealing it was all
right. We all have our own opinions about right and wrong, you know." I don't
think you would be happy with this response. You would probably argue that
some acts are definitely wrong and should not be done while other acts are
definitely right and should be done. But what are they? What are some examples,
some principles that we can nearly all agree upon when it comes to right and wrong?
As a post script, I will mention that several previous students have claimed significant
charitable contributions would threaten the health of the economy, but this is not a
carefully considered argument. Whether personal income is spent on luxury items
or on charitable goods, it is still being spent, it is still being circulated within the
national or global economy.