Singer Vs. Narveson Solution to World Poverty

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Updated: Apr 07, 2023
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To state the obvious, I believe that the majority of us can agree that we love and desire luxuries, whether it be vacations, clothing, accessories, remodeling our homes, going out to eat, etc. We are accustomed to wanting these luxuries rather than needing them. Singer and Narveson both present very arguable yet heavily opinionated views on the idea and solutions to poverty and hunger. They both have completely different views on donations and the way we should spend our own money.

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Singer has prompted that we should cut out the “unnecessary luxuries” of our daily lives and donate the money we would have spent on those things to those who are in dire need of them. Naverson presents to us a completely opposite aspect and believes that we are not obligated to give such a large sum of a donation, or any donation at all, really. With further research and discussion, I would have to agree to comply with the idea that Naverson expresses to his readers; we do not owe anything to those who are in need. It is simply not one’s job to supply for others, especially in the way Singer believes that we should. In the Singer Solution To World Poverty analysis, the approach he insists that people should take on poverty and hunger just seems immensely unrealistic.

In this summary essay on Singer’s Solution To World Poverty, I would like to point out that Singer’s approach to poverty and hunger is definitely an interesting one. As I continued to read, I could honestly say this was not something I would believe to even be possible for anyone of any socioeconomic class, really. In his reading, he attempts to persuade his readers that they are to cut out absolutely every luxury that they desire to spend their hard-worked and earned money on and to take on this obligation of donating more than half of their salaries to save people around the world. In this section of “The Singer Solution of World Poverty,” he uses examples to try and get the reader to empathize and come to terms with the fact that we have the ability to save someone’s life, but we fail to do so.

In this case, we have Bob, who is the owner of a luxurious Bugatti, invests so much money into it, and will be tremendously valuable in the future; he parks it along train tracks, decides to take a stroll along the tracks as well as a little boy who seems to be playing, though he is oblivious to what is around him, as a runaway train is coming his way. Bob has the option to save his car or this innocent boy by simply pulling the lever to switch the tracks. Using this example, Singer is trying to focus on our own selfishness; Bob has to choose between changing the tracks so that the train hits his luxurious car or hitting and killing this little boy. He bribes us with the idea that if we believe that Bob was wrong not to pull the lever to save the boy, then he does not understand why we would not donate money to save lives.

Along with the proposal of “not spending money on luxuries and donating instead,” Singer is very defensive on the belief that spending money on ourselves is immoral. He does not agree that we should spend money on anything we want rather than what we need. In this case, he initiates the impractical example of us not purchasing luxuries. He strictly admits that the average person with an earning income of $50,000 a year, let’s say, spends $30,000 on luxurious items, vacations, etc., so instead of spending that $30,000 on the things you want, you should donate every single penny of that to those in poverty. Personally, I am unable to agree with this statement, and I do not see this as even being possible. Although I disagree with this donable sum of money, I do not discourage people to donate. I believe a reasonable amount of money can still go a long way.

On the other hand, Narveson elaborates on the idea that we are not obligated in any way to donate or help those who are starving and in poverty. As used in the section “Feeding The Hungry” by Narveson, he shares an example of how a wealthy man is not obligated to pay for the medical operation of a poor man, but just because we are not obligated does not mean we cannot do so. With this being said, this proposes the argument of justice vs. charity. Justice is simply something that is forced to do, while charity is something that is more genuine and from the heart. We can say that if a wealthy man did go and pay the expenses of a poor man’s operation because he simply wanted to do so, then that would be considered charitable because it was something he wanted to do rather than something that he was forced to do.

Narveson expresses many differences in arguments when it comes to the topic of being “obligated to donate.” For one, we have the difference between starving and allowing to starve; he expresses that as long as you are not physically doing the killing, or starving someone, then you are in no form held accountable for that other person. Starvation is personally not one person’s problem, which leads them to the fact that they are, in no case, obligated to send any donation at all if they choose not to. Donating should and never be a forcibly imposed duty on anyone. The only way that we can ever be obligated to lend a helping hand to others is if we have put them in such a circumstance where they would need it; it is a form of simple human morals and consideration.

In conclusion, I would strictly have to agree with Narveson. Singer’s approach is very unrealistic to me, and I am unable to side with him, let alone try to see any justifiable sense to his proposal. I strongly believe that by no means is anyone ever obligated to donate, especially more than half of their salary. Though we are not obligated to do such a kind act, it does not mean we should never do so, as long as the deed is not forced. Donating is simply a choice, and any sum of money goes a long way; a few dollars are feeding one child for an entire month. Doing something charitable is a virtue. It is an act that is highly recommended but is still something that comes from a genuine, kind-hearted drive to help others who are in need of this act of kindness.

Though it is encouraged, you are not considered a bad person for not doing so. It is not to be considered selfish if you are not donating a large sum of money or even if you are not donating anything at all. Money is worked for and earned by people all around the world; it is only just that people have the right to spend their money as they please. By no means do I discourage donations? I just encourage realistic donations and charitable work. I am still going to be able to remodel my house, go on vacation, buy myself an entirely new wardrobe, buy the newest gadget, and spend the money, that I worked very hard for and earned. However, I would like to spend it while still being able to make a reasonable donation to those in need.

Frequently Asked Questions
What is the conclusion of the essay the Singer solution to world poverty?

The Singer Solution to Global Impoverishment outlines a plan to employ funds from affluent individuals and nations to alleviate the plight of those living in poverty. The blueprint advocates for directing charitable aid towards people grappling with indigence, as they are the ones most afflicted. Additionally, the scheme advocates for financial aid as the most potent approach to assist the impoverished, enabling them to fulfill their essential needs.

What is Singer's main argument for giving up luxuries to help the global poor?

Singer’s principal contention for relinquishing indulgences to assist the impoverished worldwide is that it is our ethical responsibility to do so. He contends that those of us blessed with the means to aid those in distress should not falter in our duty. Moreover, he posits that sacrificing some of our luxuries could ultimately render our lives more gratifying, instilling in us an enhanced appreciation for what we possess through effort.

What is the moral problem Singer addresses in his essay?

In his essay, Singer tackles the ethical quandary of the disparity between how humans perceive animals and how they perceive other members of their own species. Singer posits that individuals are swift to accord moral deliberation to fellow humans but not to animals, even when the latter are equally susceptible to anguish. According to Singer, this disconnect is unwarranted, and people ought to extend the same degree of ethical consideration to animals that they extend to other humans.

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Singer vs. Narveson Solution to World Poverty. (2021, Mar 26). Retrieved from