SEGL in London Academics

Pre-semester reading: Peter Singer’s “The Singer Solution to World Poverty” and Garrett Hardin’s “Lifeboat Ethics” (click the link to download!)

Some questions to consider (and journal about, if you’d like) as you read: What, if anything, do we owe those in need?  We see pictures of starving children in magazines, stories about struggling refugees on the evening news, and envelopes filled with requests for aid in our mailboxes.  But is it really our obligation to help the destitute?  Do you (or, more broadly, does the United States) have an obligation to reach out to those in need, or is that so-called moral imperative ineffective, unfair, and dangerous knee-jerk liberalism?

These two articles—among the most philosophically intriguing that you will ever read—assert each side of this issue persuasively.  In the first reading, Princeton University’s Peter Singer (arguably the most controversial philosopher alive) suggests that we are obligated to help others.  In the second reading, Garrett Hardin (a famous bio-ethicist who taught at The University of California at Santa Barbara) argues against helping poorer nations. Though Hardin’s article is from 1974, his arguments are still tough to defeat.  Why is this?  Why are you reading these articles as examples of logos?  What can you take from this as you craft your own political communication?

What does all this have to do with who you are and how you want to live your life?