Ethics & International Affairs

Debate: Global Poverty Relief

Achieving the Best Outcome

Peter Singer

The one central point in all my writing on this topic, from “Famine, Affluence and Morality” onward, has been that the failure of people in the rich nations to make any significant sacrifices in order to assist people who are dying from poverty related causes is ethically indefensible. It is not simply the absence of charity, let alone of moral saintliness: It is wrong, and one cannot claim to be a morally decent person unless one is doing far more than the typical comfortably-off person does.

Peter Singer is Ira W.DeCamp Professor of Bioethics at Princeton University. His books include Animal Liberation (1975); Practical Ethics (1979); How Are We to Live? (1993);and Writings on an Ethical Life (2000).His most recent work, One World: Ethics and Globalization, will be published by Yale University Press in the fall of 2002.