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Old 9th February 2019, 09:39 AM   #24
angrysoba's Avatar
Join Date: Dec 2009
Location: Osaka, Japan
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Originally Posted by Thermal View Post
The drowning child presents an immediacy of choice, though. Sending money to abstract, endless children is Sisyphean in magnitude.
And yet people do send money for various charitable causes around the world such as digging wells, providing vaccinations, building educational facilities etc... The value this provides could also be considered abstract, and certainly Sisyphean. In fact, what isn't Sisyphean? Ultimately, we are all going to die in the end, right, and we'll never completely conquer disease and death, so why bother doing anything at all? Why even bother making moral choices that don't affect me?

Originally Posted by Thermal View Post
The argument would come down to valuing any abstract child over your own life, to the point of sacrificing yourself wholesale. The immediacy of the drowning child outweighs the worth of the shoes. To sacrifice yourself wholesale for the benefit of unknown others us not comparable
Whenever I have heard Singer and some others in the Effective Altruism movement, they don't say "You must sacrifice your whole life!" or that you should wear sackcloth and give all your money away. They tend to say that they give a small proportion of their earnings, and if they find they can live comfortably like that, they tend to increase their donation of the proportion of money they earn.
"The thief and the murderer follow nature just as much as the philanthropist. Cosmic evolution may teach us how the good and the evil tendencies of man may have come about; but, in itself, it is incompetent to furnish any better reason why what we call good is preferable to what we call evil than we had before."

"Evolution and Ethics" T.H. Huxley (1893)
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