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 Starvation is widespread in majority of third world countries and overpopulation has been proved to be the chief factor accounting for this observation. Through charity, large sums of money and food have been donated to help the starving population. The donors are mostly developed countries and non-governmental organizations.

In his essay, Peter Singer presents a famine situation in Bengal and postulates some premises or arguments. The first part of this assignment will give a summary of the essay. Additionally, an examination of counter arguments opposing Singers position will be presented.

Summary of Peter Singers Essay

 There is an introduction to a famine in Bengal setting and this is what marks the beginning of Peter Singers argument. The first premise that is set by Peter Singer is that starvation is bad and hence, he makes a suggestion that if there is a possibility of stopping the occurrence of something bad, everything possible should be done provided it does not result to something bad happening again.

The other argument presented by Peter singer is that there are fallacies associated with human thinking, in that there is less motivation to give aid to those people that are far away, even when those people are in dire need of assistance. Hence, helping people who are close to us physically is the socially acceptable standard and Singer thinks this is unacceptable.

For this reason, he comes up with the premise that the world is full of suffering. According to Singer, the people suffering in Bengal could be relieved of starvation if everyone decided to take action (Singer, 1972). Moreover, there is need to change people’s way of thinking regarding the supererogatory nature of charity. He adds that a person who doest not assist those in need but instead indulges in money and luxury should be termed blameworthy.

People fail to help those in need due to the belief that it is the governments responsibility to do so. Additionally, some believe that the needy could become dependent on aid once they are assisted. On the amount of donation to give, Singer thinks that a reasonable amount should be given since giving too much aid could result to detrimental effects on the economy. The key to controlling starvation is placing population control measures. Finally Singer states that donating is not charity but rather a duty (Singer, 1972).


 Singers arguments have limitations as practical guide though they are morally strong and logically sound. The picture presented by singer is inaccurate with regard to the global situation. It is not convincing enough that giving charity is the most effective way to solving starvation problem. Following Singers principle is more like every person jumping into water and slightly drowning in it.

Buying fair trade goods for instance would have a positive impact due to the current economical structure. Moreover, it is not possible to continually give charity to an ever increasing population since the relief aid would finally get exhausted. The ethical action to do is to stop assisting more people (Wood, 2002).

According to Singer, people need to re-think about helping people far away. The counter argument for this is that individuals need to have special duties and obligation to their countrymen, family and other people with special relation. It is therefore logical to assist the people who are at close proximity rather than those who are very far away. After all, it was said that charity begins at home(Singer, 1972).

Moreover, giving aid to those who are far way would result to sacrificing something that is of equal importance that is, the plight of fellow countrymen. Singers arguments are extremely demanding and tend to conflict with individual preferences. He thinks that people need to be devoted to helping the needy since it is a morally acceptable thing to do. His thinking may discourage individuals from doing other activities that are not related to helping the needy.

This in turn may results to lack of individual satisfaction and happiness since it will make them feel obliged to help the needy. Even when such people assist the needy, they would do so out of obligation rather than freewill. Singers argument is more like denying people their right to autonomy and freewill. It is logically appropriate to give people the right to make their own decisions and do what their hearts desire (Griffin, 2008).

Singer thinks that  person indulging in money and luxury without assisting the needy should be considered blameworthy(Singer, 1972). Those living luxuriously are not to blame because most of them have worked extremely hard to earn what they have. Corruption, war, poverty and mismanagement are the main causes of famine.

Therefore it is presumable that the famine-stricken countries are to blame for their situations. If only, the governments worked harder to ensure that there was no corruption, war and mismanagement of public funds, there would be no famine. Moreover, such countries have numerous resources that are underutilized (Hall, 2007).

According to singer, there is need to give direct relief now as well as promoting population control measures. The objection is that direct relief is just a short term answer since it simply postpones more problems. When there is pouring of too much developmental assistance in an area, it becomes almost impossible to absorb and this may result to farmers depending on such aid instead of utilizing the available resources.

Moreover, conflicting ideas and jealous rivalries result when there are too many helpers. This is contrary to singer who argues that each and every individual should take action or donate to help those who are suffering. It is clear that following Singers ideas would affect the economy. This is due to the fact that everyone would be working and putting efforts towards assisting the needy instead of taking part in developmental activities that would help improve the economical standards (Marah, 2006).

Inadequate information, inadequate planning, government pride, slow response, undirected aid, ignorance, politics and incompetence are what define famine. This is contrary to Singer who seems to imply that a condition of lack of food is what defines famine. Famine is a key problem that results to shaking of the economical, social and political foundation. This in turn affects the stability or future of a country.

There is unpopularity concerning large scale efforts aimed at controlling population. It is therefore unreal for Singer to denote that promoting population control is hat easy. It has been virtually impossible to enforce such measures. Involving the unified efforts of many agricultural experts and large amount of funds and materials support from different world leaders is the only possible way through which the issue of famine can be solved (Simon and Bowie, 2007).

Developing new ways to grow food on a worldwide scale is one way through which the world hunger problem can be solved. Majority of people live in areas that are incapable of producing enough subsistence crops. There are a lot or arable farms that are underused due to the fact that they are owned by governments or States and hence can not be used for farming purposes.

Inhabitants can grow adequate food to cater for their needs by coming up with novel ways for growing crops maximally. Improving food distribution infrastructure is the other way to solve famine (Marah, 2006). As long as the world population increases continually and remains higher than the food that can be produced by farmers, world hunger would always prevail. There have been large scale efforts aimed at controlling population growth though most of them have been almost impossible to enforce in addition to being unpopular.

There is a link between population growth, degradation of local resources and poverty. The consequent of the mentioned states is famine. There is less constraint of the food amount in world trade by the resource base rather than wealth misdistribution (Hall, 2007). All these show that Peter Singers arguments regarding famine and the solutions are not persuasive enough.


 Since the cause of famine is inadequate planning, government pride, incompetence, ignorance and many other factors, giving charity can never be a permanent solution to the problem. Governments need to take action to ensure that there is utilization of the available resources to cater for the population needs. As long as the world population continues to grow, world hunger would also continue.


Griffin, J. On human rights. Oxford University Press, 2008

Hall, L. E. Starvation in Africa. The Rosen Publishing Group, 2007

Marah, J. K. Famine, Starvation and Hunger in Africa. Challenge to World and African leaders. AuthorHouse, 2006

Simon, R., & Bowie, N. Individual and the political order. The introduction to social and political philosophy, Rowman and Littlefield, 2007

Singer, P. Famine, Affluence, and Morality, Philosophy of Public Affairs 1(1). (Spring 1972), 229-243

Wood, D. F. International logistics. AMACOM Div American Mgmt Assn, 2002

James Peter is the author and is associated with meldaresearch.com which is a global custom thesis writing  provider. If you would like help in essays, research papers, term papers and dissertations, you can visit BestEssaySite.Com

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