Peter Singer

Peter Singer

In Peter Singer’s essay “The Singer Solution to World Poverty,” he explores the possibilities of each and every American giving up about 2/3 of his/her income. However, rather than simply talking of his own solution as another theory, he tells the reader in so many words (literally) that he/she is wrong. A large chunk of the essay is basically a big middle finger to everyone reading it. It is almost as though Singer wanted to invoke anger out of the reader so that he/she would then go and donate money to charity, so as to say something along the lines of “You lookie here, Singer, I’m not who you say I am.” Some people might think that Singer is just out of his mind, but I think he was angering the reader by making harsh accusations on purpose.
Singer opens his essay with a ridiculous story from a film about a fictional woman named Dora. In the story, Dora is a “retired schoolteacher who makes ends meet by sitting at the station writing letters for illiterate people.” First off, how could anyone make enough money to live comfortably like that? She ends up selling a homeless boy to what she is told to be a “wealthy family.” Her neighbor somehow knows that this is not the case, that the boy will be put to death and his organs sold. Second of all, how does the neighbor know this? This accusation is not explained. Dora then goes home with her brand new television, feels guilty, and takes the boy back. Why would Dora do this without further research? She has no proof other than passing words of her neighbor that he will be killed. Perhaps in the film, this is explained, but Singer does not elaborate further on this subject. He just assumes that this is the case, that the boy will be killed, and that Dora is a fool for not knowing this sooner. He then compares the unspeakable: “what is the ethical distinction,” he begins, “between a Brazilian who sells a homeless child to organ peddlers and an American who already has a TV and upgrades to a better one—knowing that the...

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