Published on April 24, 2008
WORLD HUNGER: WORLD HUNGER “Famine, Affluence, and Morality”: “Famine, Affluence, and Morality” Peter Singer (1946-) IMPARTIALITY AND STARVATION: IMPARTIALITY AND STARVATION We saw earlier with Thomas Nagel that it is hard for a person to care about others as much as she cares about herself, her family, and friends, but that a question for ethics is how impartial we ought to be towards others, and how much we owe to other people, even ones we don’t know. Singer’s paper is concerned with what each of us owes morally to other people, and with what our moral obligation is to prevent world hunger. PRACTICAL AND MORAL ISSUES CONCERNING STARVATION: PRACTICAL AND MORAL ISSUES CONCERNING STARVATION Singer says that mass starvation is preventable. But Singer says that neither individuals nor governments have responded in any significant way to the problem of world hunger. For Singer, the behavior of affluent individuals and wealthy countries regarding this issue cannot be ethically justified, and those who are capable of helping starving people should help. CHANGING OUR MORALITY AND OUR LIFESTYLE: CHANGING OUR MORALITY AND OUR LIFESTYLE Singer says that “the whole way in which we look at moral issues - our moral conceptual scheme - needs to be altered, and with it, the way of life that has come to be taken for granted in our society.” Thus, according to Singer, our morality is not the correct one, and our lifestyle must change in order to reflect a correct morality. That our morality needs to change, and that we can no longer take for granted what we take for granted in our lifestyle, are things which Singer hopes to prove in this paper. PRELIMINARY POINTS: PRELIMINARY POINTS The first point Singer makes in defense of his position that we need to do everything possible to eliminate world hunger is that “suffering and death from lack of food, shelter, and medical care are bad.” He thinks that most people will agree with this, and he will take it that this point is accepted. Point number two is that we ought to prevent something bad from happening which it is in our power to prevent if we do not have to sacrifice something of comparable moral importance in order to prevent it from happening. Thus if I can help prevent someone’s starving without making it the case that my own family starves then I ought to do it. The health and welfare of others then is of “comparable moral importance” to my own family’s health and welfare. THE MORALITY OF PREVENTION: THE MORALITY OF PREVENTION This second point Singer thinks is almost as uncontroversial as the first one, since the principle just asks us to prevent what is bad from happening to other people if we can prevent it without causing something else bad to happen which is of similar moral importance But the principle is really stronger than that, since it goes beyond asking us to prevent what we can and says that we ought to prevent what it is in our power to prevent if we can do so without sacrificing something of equal or like moral importance. Thus, to use Singer’s own example, I ought to save a drowning child if I have the power to do so. This might make me wet, muddy, and uncomfortable, but that is a small price to pay for the life of a child. THE PRINCIPLE OF PREVENTION I: THE PRINCIPLE OF PREVENTION I This moral principle: we ought to prevent something bad from happening which we can prevent if we can prevent it without sacrificing anything morally significant, Singer calls “the principle of preventing bad occurrences,” and I will call ‘the principle of prevention’ for short. And Singer says that, if this principle were acted upon by everyone, our lives, our society, and the world would change radically. This is because the principle of prevention, the principle that we ought to prevent something bad from happening which we can prevent if we can prevent the bad thing without sacrificing anything morally significant, does a couple of important things. THE PRINCIPLE OF PREVENTION II: THE PRINCIPLE OF PREVENTION II 1. The principle takes no account of proximity or distance. Thus it does not matter if the thing which I can help prevent is near or far. 2. It does not matter if I am the only person who can help, or if I am one of millions who can help. For instance, I might be the only one to happen by when a child is drowning, but I may be one of millions who could afford to send a little money to prevent starvation. PREVENTION AND IMPARTIALITY: PREVENTION AND IMPARTIALITY It may be a fact of human psychology that we tend to help those who are closer to us, but, according to Singer, that does not show that we ought to help someone closer to us rather than someone who is farther away. The principle of prevention, the principle which says: prevent something bad from happening which you can if you don’t have to sacrifice anything morally significant, is a principle of impartiality. It means that we ought to treat everyone equally, that we cannot discriminate against a person simply because she is far away. PROXIMITY, DISTANCE, AND MORAL JUDGEMENT I: PROXIMITY, DISTANCE, AND MORAL JUDGEMENT I Singer admits that, if we are in a better position to judge what those people who are close to us need, then this would be a good reason to help those who are closest to us first. But he also notes that mass communication has changed the relation of modern man to the rest of the world. Now it is easy to get the sounds and pictures of mass starvation in foreign countries from newspapers, television, and the Internet. Kinds of mass communication have made the world into Marshall McLuhan’s “global village,” and so have changed our moral relation to the rest of the world. PROXIMITY, DISTANCE, AND MORAL JUDGEMENT II: PROXIMITY, DISTANCE, AND MORAL JUDGEMENT II Famine relief agencies can get help to the people abroad who need it almost as easily as we could get help to someone on our own block. And, for Singer, that means that we have no excuse not to help those far removed from us. Accordingly, he says that “There would seem, therefore, to be no possible justification for discriminating on geographical grounds.” NUMBERS, PSYCHOLOGICAL DIFFERENCES, AND MORAL OBLIGATION: NUMBERS, PSYCHOLOGICAL DIFFERENCES, AND MORAL OBLIGATION Singer says that, although there is a psychological difference between being the only person who can prevent something bad from happening, and being one of a million who can prevent something bad from happening, there is no moral difference between these cases. Should I feel less obligated to help the drowning child if other people are as close to her as I am? Singer says of course not, and this he thinks shows “the absurdity of the view that numbers lessen [moral] obligation.” Singer says that “most of the major evils [in the world] - poverty, overpopulation, and pollution - are problems in which everyone is almost equally involved.” DUTY AND CHARITY I: DUTY AND CHARITY I The outcome of the principle of prevention, the principle that we ought to prevent something bad from happening which we can prevent if we can prevent the bad thing without sacrificing anything morally significant, is that we lose the traditional distinction between duty and charity. Thus, traditionally we think of giving as charitable, and, as charitable, we do not think that there is anything wrong with not giving. DUTY AND CHARITY II: DUTY AND CHARITY II But on Singer’s principle of prevention there is something wrong with not giving, and giving is now a duty and not an instance of charity. A person’s spending money on things which she does not need rather than giving it to help prevent something bad from happening cannot be justified, and is immoral on Singer’s principle. We have a duty to give money away for a good cause when we do not need it for ourselves or our family. CHALLENGES TO SINGER: CHALLENGES TO SINGER Some people might object to Singer’s point of view by saying that it is too radical, that we do not think about morality the way he maintains that we should. For instance, we do not condemn those people who do not give money to help prevent something bad. But Singer says that whether we do or do not judge people in this way has nothing to do with the legitimacy of his moral principle that we ought to prevent something bad from happening which we can prevent without sacrificing something of comparable moral importance, and so is not really an objection to it. Someone else might object that, since we are all self-interested to some degree, very few people will be doing all that they ought to do to prevent bad things from happening to others. But Singer says, even if this is true, that this is not an argument against his principle. APPLICATION OF THE PRINCIPLE OF PREVENTION I: APPLICATION OF THE PRINCIPLE OF PREVENTION I Just how much money should we all be giving away to prevent bad things from happening? For Singer, we ought to give away as much as we can before we would begin to suffer ourselves, or before we cause the bad condition for ourselves through our giving that our giving is designed to eliminate for others. Thus we do not want to cause in ourselves and our dependents the suffering which we are trying to help others avoid. APPLICATION OF THE PRINCIPLE OF PREVENTION II: APPLICATION OF THE PRINCIPLE OF PREVENTION II Singer says that each person should give until she reaches the point of marginal utility. This is the point at which giving away more money would result in the same kind of suffering for you and your dependents that the giving is designed to prevent in others. Singer’s principle of prevention - the principle which says that we ought to prevent from happening something bad which we can prevent unless we would sacrifice something of a comparable moral significance - seems to require our giving to help others until we reach the level of marginal utility. QUESTIONS FOR SINGER: QUESTIONS FOR SINGER If we balk at this, what might be the reasons? Egoism? Partiality for some people over others? If we feel no duty to hold to Singer’s principle why might that be? Could we feel that, by investing money in ourselves and our dependents, we might be better improving the world than by giving our money away? Should we give until we reach the level of marginal utility if our musically gifted daughter wants a new piano? If our athletic son wants to go to summer basketball camp? If my wife is dying of cancer and wants to take a last trip to Europe? A MORE MODERATE VERSION OF THE PRINCIPLE OF PREVENTION: A MORE MODERATE VERSION OF THE PRINCIPLE OF PREVENTION Singer also has a more moderate version of his principle, and that is that we give away money to help others, but only if in doing so we sacrifice nothing of moral significance, and so need not give until we reach the level of marginal utility. Some people might think that the more moderate version is preferable, since they might think that it is bad for a person to reduce himself and his family to the level of marginal utility. Singer prefers the strong version, but he says that even the moderate version would radically change things, and might cause a consumer society like ours to be radically affected, and perhaps even to disappear. CONSUMER SOCIETIES: CONSUMER SOCIETIES The effect of even the moderate version of the principle of prevention would have a great impact on consumer societies such as ours. This effect would cause the consumer society to “slow down and perhaps disappear entirely.” The disappearance of a consumer society, which includes spending money “on trivia rather than giving to famine relief” would be a good thing, according to Singer. It would be good because the values of a consumer society - buy yourself a life - “have had a distorting effect on the goals and purposes of its members.” PRUDENCE IN GIVING: PRUDENCE IN GIVING Having said what he says about consumer societies, Singer nevertheless recognizes that we would have to consider carefully how much it would be intelligent to give away as a percentage of our Gross National Product (the total output of a nation’s goods and services for a period of time, usually a year). This is because, if we gave away too great a percentage of the GNP, then it might slow down the economy so much that we end up giving away less than we would have if we had given a smaller percentage. THE IMPACT OF PHILOSOPHERS ON LIFE: THE IMPACT OF PHILOSOPHERS ON LIFE Ending starvation is something important which Singer thinks philosophers can help to do. And their assistance can come in the form of showing, as Singer himself attempts to show in this article, that we have an obligation to prevent misery and to help others when it is within our power to do so. Accordingly Singer says that people ought to give money to help others that they themselves do not need in order to live decent lives. “World Hunger and Moral Obligation: the Case Against Singer”: “World Hunger and Moral Obligation: the Case Against Singer” John Arthur NORMAL ASSUMPTIONS ABOUT OUR MORAL OBLIGATIONS: NORMAL ASSUMPTIONS ABOUT OUR MORAL OBLIGATIONS Arthur writes from the perspective of those of us who live in wealthy industrial nations and have more than many others in other parts of the world. And he says that such people normally think that our money is ours to do with what we please. This is because we earned it, and so feel that we are under no obligation to give whatever we do not need to someone else, especially to someone we have never met in some other part of the world. SINGER’S DISAGREEMENT WITH THIS: SINGER’S DISAGREEMENT WITH THIS This is what Singer thinks is wrong. Singer thinks that we are being immoral if we do not help those who could benefit from our help by simply doing without things which we and our family do not need. For Singer, it is morally wrong for us not to prevent an evil like starvation if we have the means to do it. SINGER’S BASIC PRINCIPLES: SINGER’S BASIC PRINCIPLES Recall that Singer says that we have a moral obligation to help others who are suffering due to two basic principles: 1. Suffering and dying from lack of food, shelter and medical care are bad. 2. We should prevent bad things from happening to others which it is in our power to prevent when doing so will not cause us to sacrifice anything of comparable moral significance. This second principle I have called ‘the principle of prevention,’ and Arthur calls the greater moral evil rule. APPLICATION OF THE SECOND PRINCIPLE I: APPLICATION OF THE SECOND PRINCIPLE I The second principle applied to world hunger means that we ought to give away money until we reach the level of marginal utility, or until we reach the level at which further giving will, or could, cause a comparable evil to happen to us or to those who depend on us. To give beyond the point of marginal utility would mean that we would sacrifice something of comparable moral significance, such as our own health, or the health of those, such as our children, who depend on us, in order to help the people we are trying to help. APPLICATION OF THE SECOND PRINCIPLE II: APPLICATION OF THE SECOND PRINCIPLE II Arthur says that Singer’s greater moral evil rule means that “people are entitled to keep their [surplus] earnings if there is no way for them to prevent a greater evil by giving them away.” Although he does not say so, the world being full of problems which money can be used to solve, it must be recognized that people would also be morally entitled to all of their earnings if no malady existed which could be removed by giving their surplus earnings to aid in its removal. APPLICATION OF THE SECOND PRINCIPLE III: APPLICATION OF THE SECOND PRINCIPLE III Arthur says that the greater moral evil rule would suggest that, if we spend money on ourselves for something which we do not need, then we are treating our own special interests as being more important than a person’s life. And most people would think that a person’s life is more important than a trip to Cancun or a new car if the old one still runs. MORAL EQUALITY I: MORAL EQUALITY I Arthur points out that we have a sense of moral equality as part of our moral code. Thus if I am in pain and you are in pain, our moral equality means that my pain is not more important to remove than yours. It further indicates that, if I am happy and you are happy, then it is not more important that my happiness continue than yours. The principle of moral equality means then that “like amounts of suffering (or happiness) are of equal significance, no matter who is experiencing them.” MORAL EQUALITY II: MORAL EQUALITY II Moral equality is taken by many to be an objective principle which is true for all. Accordingly, no one has a unique status in this regard, and so your pain is just as evil as the president’s and your happiness just as important as his. Arthur also recognizes that our sense of moral equality means that we ought to give equal consideration to needs which are equally serious. And this means that removing your hunger is as important as removing mine. This then seems to lead to Singer’s greater moral evil rule that we ought to help eliminate those bad things from happening to people when it would not cause us to experience something of similar badness. MORAL EQUALITY III: MORAL EQUALITY III Arthur: “Equality, in the sense of giving equal consideration to equally serious needs, is part of our moral code.” Arthur: “And so we are led, quite rightly I think, to the conclusion that we should prevent harm to others if in doing so we do not sacrifice anything of comparable moral importance.” However, Arthur says “there is also another side to the coin [which is of moral significance], one which Singer ignores” . . . “the notion of entitlements.” ENTITLEMENTS AND THE GREATER MORAL EVIL RULE I: ENTITLEMENTS AND THE GREATER MORAL EVIL RULE I Generally, an entitlement is something to which we are entitled, and to say that a person is entitled to something means that he or she has a right or claim to that thing. For instance, we are entitled to our eyes, our ears, our legs, our organs, and so forth. Entitlements are divided into rights and desert, and where a right may or may not be a natural right, and desert is just reward or punishment. For Arthur, a problem with Singer’s greater moral evil - prevent what evil it is in your power to prevent without your sacrificing anything of comparable moral significance - is that it would seem to demand that we do things like give an eye or a kidney to a stranger. ENTITLEMENTS AND THE GREATER MORAL EVIL RULE II: ENTITLEMENTS AND THE GREATER MORAL EVIL RULE II A person can live with one kidney or one eye, and he would only be sacrificing something of comparable moral significance - his life - if he gave both of his kidneys to someone who has none, and he would only be sacrificing something of comparable moral significance - his sight - if he gave both of his eyes to a blind person. Since we can live with one kidney and see with one eye, it looks to Arthur that, according to Singer’s principle of prevention, we are obligated to give an eye or a kidney to someone who needs them if we will be no worse off than when we had two of each. NATURAL RIGHTS I: NATURAL RIGHTS I Singer might respond here that each of us has a natural right to our organs, and that a second organ is not to be viewed as a surplus item to be given away like additional money. A natural right is a moral right which is said to belong to humans by nature, or to the kind of being called ‘human being’ in virtue of being a human being, and so does not rest on custom or convention, but on self-evident principles or fundamental laws of reason. Thus, for Thomas Hobbes, man has a natural right to life; for John Locke, life, liberty, and property are natural rights; and, in the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson names life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness as natural rights. NATURAL RIGHTS II: NATURAL RIGHTS II Jeremy Bentham was opposed to the notion of natural rights and called them “nonsense on stilts.” There are no rights as such within nature or guaranteed by nature as opposed to rights which are created by men in the form of laws. Thus there is nothing but custom and convention. The notion of self-evidence (mentioned above in relation to the notion of natural rights) is difficult to evaluate and is subject to change. Also, as what is reasonable to one thinker may not be reasonable to another, there may be a problem in resting a natural right on reason. NATURAL RIGHTS III: NATURAL RIGHTS III Still, it may be hard not to think of some rights as natural, like the Kantian right to be treated as an end in oneself. That is, this would be considered to be a natural right since it is either self-evident or a fundamental law of reason, and that it is not merely arrived at by convention. Singer might say that each of us has a natural right to our organs, and that a second organ is not to be viewed as a surplus item to be given away like additional money. In addition, it might be noted that money and organs are not quite the same. What if we lose the second eye or kidney? We do not have the power to make another, but we do have the power usually to make more money as we have in the past. NATURAL RIGHTS IV: NATURAL RIGHTS IV Singer might also say that we have an obligation in dying to give our undamaged organs to anyone who needs them, but not while we are alive. Arthur recognizes that a basic right to our own body parts is part of our moral code. Thus it is our body rather than someone else’s, and we are not obligated to give up a second organ while living, although we may if we choose. Arthur: “To sacrifice a kidney for a stranger is to do more than is required, it’s heroic.” NEGATIVE RIGHTS: NEGATIVE RIGHTS Arthur notes that moral rights are normally divided into negative rights and positive rights. Negative rights are rights of noninterference. We have the right not to be interfered with in certain ways, and since we are talking about the right not to be interfered with, the right is called ‘negative.’ For instance, we have the negative right not to be harmed or killed by another, not to have our property taken, not to have our privacy breached, etc. POSITIVE RIGHTS: POSITIVE RIGHTS Whereas negative rights are rights of noninterference, positive rights are rights of recipience. For instance, you have a positive right to be paid by your employer - to receive money - since he has agreed to pay you for work performed. And you have a positive right to receive a degree from the university for completing you degree requirements, since this is what the school promises to give you in exchange for money and academic work. POSITIVE AND NEGATIVE RIGHTS I: POSITIVE AND NEGATIVE RIGHTS I Negative rights are natural. What natural rights you have depends on what kind of being you are. Thus human beings have a natural right to their bodies but cows do not, at least in our culture. This is an example of how biology makes a difference to morality, which is an important issues in such topics in applied ethics as abortion and animal rights. Positive rights are not natural. Instead, they depend on non-natural things like agreements made in good faith between people. POSITIVE AND NEGATIVE RIGHTS II: POSITIVE AND NEGATIVE RIGHTS II Does a stranger in need typically have either a positive (contractual or agreed to by different people) or negative right (natural, depending on what kind of being you are) to be helped by another? Arthur says no. Such a right, if it existed, would be positive. However, positive rights depend on contracts or promises made between people, and no such agreement has been entered into between us and a stranger in need. POSITIVE AND NEGATIVE RIGHTS III: POSITIVE AND NEGATIVE RIGHTS III But while Arthur says that moral rights are factors to be considered in what we owe or do not owe to others, he also says that it is not the only thing which needs to be considered, and he recognizes that our moral code expects us to help someone in need in addition to respecting positive and negative rights. What Arthur wants to emphasize, against Singer, is that we are “entitled to invoke our own rights as justification for not giving to distant strangers or when the cost to us is substantial, as when we give up an eye or kidney.” POSITIVE AND NEGATIVE DESERT: POSITIVE AND NEGATIVE DESERT In addition to being entitled to positive and negative rights, humans are entitled to desert - just reward, which is positive, or just punishment, which is negative. An example of a positive desert - something which I deserve - is the money which I earn from working, some of which may be more than I need. I am entitled to the reward of my hard work, but are you? If I earn more than you do because I work hard and you do nothing, am I obligated to give some of my extra money to you when you have done nothing to earn it? Deserved punishment for a crime is an example of a negative desert. THE GREATER MORAL EVIL PRINCIPLE AND ENTITLEMENTS I: THE GREATER MORAL EVIL PRINCIPLE AND ENTITLEMENTS I Arthur says that our moral code considers both Singer’s greater moral evil principle and entitlements. The greater moral evil principle emphasizes human equality. This means that everyone’s suffering is equally bad, and everyone’s happiness is equally good. The importance of entitlements means that we are not just our brother’s keeper - where this extends perhaps to all humanity - but we are entitled to consider our own interests in certain respects. THE GREATER MORAL EVIL PRINCIPLE AND ENTITLEMENTS II: THE GREATER MORAL EVIL PRINCIPLE AND ENTITLEMENTS II The greater moral evil principle also emphasizes impartiality. It says to look objectively at the consequences of our actions, and in looking at the consequences of our actions looks to the future. When we look at our entitlements “our attention is directed to the past,” since whether we have a right to something depends on “how we came to possess them.” For instance, we came to the right to our eyes in the past since our negative natural right to them came with our birth, which occurred in the past, and our non-natural positive right to receive a degree is backward looking since we did the course work to earn it in the past. DESERT AND THE PAST: DESERT AND THE PAST Arthur points out that “desert, like rights, is also backward-looking.” A positive desert - like being given an Olympic medal - looks to the past for what we did to earn the medal - beating everyone in the 100 meter dash. A negative desert - like being sentenced to 10 years in jail - looks to the past for what we did to deserve this punishment - like robbing a bank PRINCIPLES OF COMMON MORALITY: PRINCIPLES OF COMMON MORALITY Arthur: “Our commonly shared morality requires that we ignore neither consequences nor entitlements, neither the future results of our actions nor relevant events in the past.” Arthur also says that our common moral code “encourages people to help others in need, especially when it’s a friend or someone we are close to geographically, and when the cost is not significant.” But Arthur also notes that our moral code “gives weight to rights and desert, so that we are not usually obligated to give to strangers.” PROXIMITY AND MORALITY: PROXIMITY AND MORALITY Arthur says that charity is encouraged by our common morality, especially helping our local needy before those in a distant country. Why do we tend to want to help those who are closest to us? Is it because, in the case of friendship, we act out of feelings which we do not have for strangers? And is it because, in the case of those nearest to us, that we can see the results of our help, and think that they would be more able to return the favor to us than a distant person? REFORMING COMMON MORALITY I: REFORMING COMMON MORALITY I Since this is how our moral code works, Singer can be seen to defend the idea of reforming our moral code, and making it so that we should feel obligated to help those in need, including strangers, and to give up the idea that we are entitled to money which we don’t need. Arthur recognizes that moral rules change, and that we have to allow for the possibility of moral change, especially replacing inferior moral laws with better ones. Should we then see that our notion of entitlements is an inferior part of our current moral code? REFORMING COMMON MORALITY II: REFORMING COMMON MORALITY II That is what Singer would say. But Arthur notes that the notion of entitlements is an important part of our moral code, and that entitlements have to do with fairness, justice, and respect. Thus we are entitled to a good grade if we earn it, and if we earn it but are not given it, then that is unfair. REFORMING COMMON MORALITY III: REFORMING COMMON MORALITY III We are entitled to punish a criminal for what he did - a negative desert - and not to punish someone for a wrongdoing would not be just. And we are entitled to the natural negative right of our bodies, and our privacy, and not to recognize these is not to respect persons. Arthur thinks these things should be recognized by morality as important as the equality of persons. REFORMING COMMON MORALITY IV: REFORMING COMMON MORALITY IV Arthur says that he may not be able to convince someone who does not think this way, someone who wonders why justice, fairness, and respect for persons, as they concern entitlements, are more important than equality and the obligation to help strangers. So he and Singer may have reached a point where they simply disagree with one another. MORALITY AND PRACTICALITY I: MORALITY AND PRACTICALITY I Arthur says that it is extremely important for ethicists to recognize that “the moral code it is rational for us to support must be practical; it must actually work.” Accordingly, all the ethical theory in the world is not worth a hill of beans unless it facilitates human interaction and helps to produce results which people want. Further, for a moral code to be practical most people must support it. MORALITY AND PRACTICALITY II: MORALITY AND PRACTICALITY II It is also important for moral theory to recognize the nature and limitations of human beings. Ethics should not assume, for instance, that people are less selfish than they are. It should instead be realistic about the degree of our self-interest. Arthur: “Rules that would work only for angels are not the ones it is rational to support for humans.” MORALITY, RATIONALITY, AND KNOWLEDGE: MORALITY, RATIONALITY, AND KNOWLEDGE A moral code should also not assume too much about our rationality - that we are more objective than in fact we are. We tend to lose the objectivity which we expect of others when we consider our own case and our own interests. Countries do this too, a nation’s diplomacy is often guided by what it is in the interests of that nation to pursue. And we have to recognize that we do not have all the facts about what would make for a better moral situation. We are not in the position of an ideal observer with ideal knowledge, but we often must work with only our limited knowledge from our limited perspective, and we make mistakes. ARTHUR’S CONCLUSIONS I: ARTHUR’S CONCLUSIONS I For Arthur as opposed to Singer, it is reasonable to expect a person to help others only when “there is no substantial cost to themselves, that is, when what they are sacrificing would not mean significant reduction in their own or their family’s level of happiness.” (His italics.) But someone such as Singer might maintain that we need some additional considerations here. For instance, what if losing a billion dollars would significantly reduce the happiness of Bill Gates at the same time that it could prevent the starvation of thousands? He still has 39 billion left. ARTHUR’S CONCLUSIONS II: ARTHUR’S CONCLUSIONS II For Arthur, a person’s entitlements can outweigh another person’s need. And this would be the case when sacrificing the entitlement, like earned money, for the welfare of another led to the person’s unhappiness. But Arthur also says that, if “what is at stake is trivial, . . . then an ideal moral code would not allow rights to override the greater evil which can be prevented.” Is Gates’ giving up a billion dollars trivial since he is still left with the majority of his net worth? ARTHUR’S CONCLUSIONS III: ARTHUR’S CONCLUSIONS III Arthur thinks that our current moral code reflects the thinking that it is reasonable to expect one person to help another only when there is no substantial cost to the person who is helping the other. In our common morality we tend to blame people who are selfish and do not help others when doing so would be a small inconvenience to them, at the same time that we do not expect people to make large sacrifices to help distant strangers. Accordingly, Arthur suggests that an ideal moral code may not be that much different from our own: an ideal code which recognized human nature and human intelligence.