peter singer

Peter Singer’s Ted Talk

For the most part, I am in agreement with Peter Singer. I think that it is very important that we are vigilant in deciding how we should serve others, and take into consideration the positives of donating money over donating time. I also really liked his points about being careful about which charities we donate to, as many of them are more efficient and thus beneficial than others.

However, I did take issue with a few of his points. I felt that he severely overused statistics – to a point that his presentation seemed almost insensitive. I don’t believe that we should give to charities out of obligation but rather out of love. I think that a big part of the reason that people donate is because they are passionate about an issue, and just because it isn’t the biggest or most severe issue doesn’t make it any less important than other, larger issues. I think that we are all called to give, but we are certainly not all called to donate to the same cause.

I also disliked his example about saving a child at the expense of material goods. For one, I don’t believe that the two examples that he gave were even remotely similar. And secondly, I think that the way he presented the example really minimalized the lives of those living in the United States. I felt that this contradicted everything that he claims to stand for – that each life is equal. I feel that if someone is called to give to organizations that help those living in the US as opposed to India then they should, and should not need be looked down upon for their choice.

Another issue that I took with his reasoning was the idea that we should just make monetary donations and should not actually volunteer. I think that many people are called to volunteerism – I know that I feel called to the Peace Corps – and I think that it is perfectly okay to volunteer as opposed to donating money. I have always been taught not to just throw money at a problem and not to make monetary donations with the expectation of receiving a pat on the back, I worry that this could be a potential problem with Singers theory. I think that people should be encouraged to give intelligently and do their research prior to making a donation to or volunteering with a charity, but I cannot support the idea that individuals have an obligation to give on another person’s terms.

the video can be found here:
http://www.ted.com/talks/peter_singer_the_why_and_how_of_effective_altruism

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