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Old 9th February 2019, 06:21 AM   #1
Robin
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The "drowning child" moral argument

There is an argument in moral philosophy, that sets out a scenario that I am out walking in an expensive pair of shoes and I see a child drowning, but in order to save him I will ruin my expensive shoes. The argument goes that I would not hesitate to sacrifice those shoes in order to save the child, so I am being inconsistent if I would not forgo buying the shoes in the first place in order to send the money overseas to save the life of a child.

My first reaction to this is "Hey, he's right, next time I see a child drowning and I am wearing an expensive pair of shoes then I should just let the child drown, because I wouldn't sacrifice the shoes to save a child overseas so if I save this child I am being inconsistent and being inconsistent is wrong".

Yes, I know the philosophers in question have in mind that I fix the inconsistency problem by forgoing the shoes and sending the money overseas to save a child there.

But my way fixes the inconsistency problem just as well and also gets me the shoes.

And, yes, I am being facetious. The problem is not inconsistency. The problem is children (or anyone) dying when they could be saved.

But is it even inconsistent in the first place?

I would sacrifice the shoes to save the drowning child because a child dying right in front of me would make me feel absolutely terrible and I would feel terrible not saving him.

But, in common with pretty much every other human being, children dying far away has a lot less emotional impact on me. That is just they way we are built.

So I am being perfectly consistent if I would sacrifice the shoes to save the child in front of my eyes but not the child overseas, because the reason I make the sacrifice is the emotional impact and I am proportioning the sacrifice I would make to that emotional impact of the death on me.

In fact I would be inconsistent if I were to make a greater sacrifice proportional to the emotional impact for the child overseas.

And, again, if inconsistency is the problem we are trying to address (rather than children dying needlessly) then I should continue to consistently apportion my sacrifice to the emotional impact of the death on me.

I guess the philosophers in question might say that I ought to feel as strongly about deaths far away as I do about deaths right in front of me.

But then that would entail moral realism, and I suspect philosophers who make this argument are attempting to get the moral realist results out of a Naturalist outlook.
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Last edited by Robin; 9th February 2019 at 06:35 AM.
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Old 9th February 2019, 06:40 AM   #2
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You could, I suppose, keep only the bare minimum of resources you need to survive, and “sell all you have to give to the poor”.... Sort of the ultimate expression of altruism.

Bill Gates recently was quoted that he felt he was mistakenly labeled a “great philanthropist” as he’d given hundreds of millions to charity. Gates said that those millions didn’t affect his overall wealth in any way, and that he felt the people working in the front lines, in combat areas, in disaster areas and disease outbreak areas were much more deserving of the title than he.....
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Old 9th February 2019, 07:05 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by Robin View Post
There is an argument in moral philosophy, that sets out a scenario that I am out walking in an expensive pair of shoes and I see a child drowning, but in order to save him I will ruin my expensive shoes. The argument goes that I would not hesitate to sacrifice those shoes in order to save the child, so I am being inconsistent if I would not forgo buying the shoes in the first place in order to send the money overseas to save the life of a child.

My first reaction to this is "Hey, he's right, next time I see a child drowning and I am wearing an expensive pair of shoes then I should just let the child drown, because I wouldn't sacrifice the shoes to save a child overseas so if I save this child I am being inconsistent and being inconsistent is wrong".

Yes, I know the philosophers in question have in mind that I fix the inconsistency problem by forgoing the shoes and sending the money overseas to save a child there.

But my way fixes the inconsistency problem just as well and also gets me the shoes.

And, yes, I am being facetious. The problem is not inconsistency. The problem is children (or anyone) dying when they could be saved.

But is it even inconsistent in the first place?

I would sacrifice the shoes to save the drowning child because a child dying right in front of me would make me feel absolutely terrible and I would feel terrible not saving him.

But, in common with pretty much every other human being, children dying far away has a lot less emotional impact on me. That is just they way we are built.

So I am being perfectly consistent if I would sacrifice the shoes to save the child in front of my eyes but not the child overseas, because the reason I make the sacrifice is the emotional impact and I am proportioning the sacrifice I would make to that emotional impact of the death on me.

In fact I would be inconsistent if I were to make a greater sacrifice proportional to the emotional impact for the child overseas.

And, again, if inconsistency is the problem we are trying to address (rather than children dying needlessly) then I should continue to consistently apportion my sacrifice to the emotional impact of the death on me.

I guess the philosophers in question might say that I ought to feel as strongly about deaths far away as I do about deaths right in front of me.

But then that would entail moral realism, and I suspect philosophers who make this argument are attempting to get the moral realist results out of a Naturalist outlook.
Why can't you kick off the shoes? Wouldn't the shoes make it much harder to swim anyway? I would probably kick off my shoes and take off my shirt whilst running towards the water to try and save the child. Overall I would probably get to the child quicker, and increase the odds of me making it back to shore with the added weight of the child, thereby increasing the odds of a successful rescue.

I can also go and buy a pair of shoes AND donate money to a trustworthy charity where I am confident the money or the supplies purchased by the money have a reasonably high chance of reaching the intended children instead of being sucked up by "Admin" costs, dictators, warlords and other criminal elements.
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Old 9th February 2019, 07:09 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by Hungry81 View Post
Why can't you kick off the shoes? Wouldn't the shoes make it much harder to swim anyway? I would probably kick off my shoes and take off my shirt whilst running towards the water to try and save the child. Overall I would probably get to the child quicker, and increase the odds of me making it back to shore with the added weight of the child, thereby increasing the odds of a successful rescue.

I can also go and buy a pair of shoes AND donate money to a trustworthy charity where I am confident the money or the supplies purchased by the money have a reasonably high chance of reaching the intended children instead of being sucked up by "Admin" costs, dictators, warlords and other criminal elements.
Well, OK, I didn't make up that argument. You are supposed to stipulate that there is some reason that you can't just kick off the shoes, ie the child will drown in the next few seconds and you can wade in and save or something.

Or you can replace it with the person bleeding on the roadside and needs to be taken to hospital and you have this expensive upholstery and no tarpaulin.
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Old 9th February 2019, 07:11 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by Hungry81 View Post
I can also go and buy a pair of shoes AND donate money to a trustworthy charity where I am confident the money or the supplies purchased by the money have a reasonably high chance of reaching the intended children instead of being sucked up by "Admin" costs, dictators, warlords and other criminal elements.
But you would save even more children by buying cheap shoes and sending that money as well.
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Old 9th February 2019, 07:13 AM   #6
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My point is that there is no inconsistency if you would sacrifice an amount of money to save a child in front of you, but would not sacrifice that same amount of money to save a child overseas.
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Old 9th February 2019, 07:14 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by Robin View Post
There is an argument in moral philosophy, ...

The argument implies that you are the only one around to save the child. It also implies that you're unable to take off your shoes. With an apparent disability like that, I don't see how you should be able to save a drowning child in the first place ...
Never mind. That the child is drowning is probably accidental. Third-World children dying of starvation or lack of health care is systemic: Letter to the Editors: Why are many people in developing countries poor? The Simple Answer … and a commentary on the question
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Old 9th February 2019, 07:19 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by Robin View Post
But you would save even more children by buying cheap shoes and sending that money as well.
But if enough people do that then the children who make my expensive shoes might be put out of a job, and would provide unnecessary and unfair competition to the children who make the cheap shoes.

Also if I buy NO shoes and donate all my worldly posessions, and shamble down the street flagellating my bare torso with a branch, I would have achieved a grand total of not very much at all. The poor children would still be poor, and so would I.
If however those poor children did somehow miraculously become rich, they could uselessly navel gaze about buying a cheaper pair of earmuffs so they could save my life or something.

Last edited by Hungry81; 9th February 2019 at 07:29 AM.
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Old 9th February 2019, 07:51 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by Robin View Post
My point is that there is no inconsistency if you would sacrifice an amount of money to save a child in front of you, but would not sacrifice that same amount of money to save a child overseas.
None at all. Whichever philosopher came up with that 'dilemma' should think about a change of job.
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Old 9th February 2019, 08:08 AM   #10
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Paraphrasing Matthew 26:11
Quote:
For ye have the poor always with you; but shoes ye have not always.
I don't see a problem with being inconsistent, if such is the case. Although I tend to agree with OP that it is not. The two situations being compared are not all that alike. Treating them differently is thus not an inconsistency.
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Old 9th February 2019, 08:36 AM   #11
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If you're going to talk about the argument, it would be best to base discussion on the actual argument.

At the least, we can sidestep questions about the mechanics of removing shoes.

https://www.utilitarian.net/singer/by/199704--.htm
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Old 9th February 2019, 08:42 AM   #12
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I would throw off the shoes and then throw them at the childs head. The resulting stunning effect of being hit with the shoes will make the last moments easier.

That's what the child deserves for making me ruin my shoes.
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Old 9th February 2019, 08:52 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by Cavemonster View Post
If you're going to talk about the argument, it would be best to base discussion on the actual argument.

At the least, we can sidestep questions about the mechanics if removing shoes.

https://www.utilitarian.net/singer/by/199704--.htm
Even without the shoes it's barely worthy of consideration.
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Old 9th February 2019, 09:03 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by baron View Post
Even without the shoes it's barely worthy of consideration.
Powerful argument there.
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Old 9th February 2019, 09:10 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by Robin View Post
I would sacrifice the shoes to save the drowning child because a child dying right in front of me would make me feel absolutely terrible and I would feel terrible not saving him.

But, in common with pretty much every other human being, children dying far away has a lot less emotional impact on me. That is just they way we are built.

So I am being perfectly consistent if I would sacrifice the shoes to save the child in front of my eyes but not the child overseas, because the reason I make the sacrifice is the emotional impact and I am proportioning the sacrifice I would make to that emotional impact of the death on me.

In fact I would be inconsistent if I were to make a greater sacrifice proportional to the emotional impact for the child overseas.

And, again, if inconsistency is the problem we are trying to address (rather than children dying needlessly) then I should continue to consistently apportion my sacrifice to the emotional impact of the death on me.

I guess the philosophers in question might say that I ought to feel as strongly about deaths far away as I do about deaths right in front of me.

But then that would entail moral realism, and I suspect philosophers who make this argument are attempting to get the moral realist results out of a Naturalist outlook.
No, Peter Singer is not arguing that you ought to do what makes a favourable emotional impact on you, he's merely saying that if you start with the premise that you ought to save a child's life at the expense of a pair of shoes, and that you would willingly sacrifice a pair of shoes in a situation in which a child can demonstrably be saved, then you ought to send money to save a child's life if you can do it.

He first sets up the moral dilemma by asking if the person feels a moral obligation in each situation (i.e. whether or not other people can help, whether or not they are helping) etc...

So if he asked you, Robin, whether you think you should help the child and you said, "No!" then indeed, it doesn't follow that you have a moral obligation to send money abroad. If you argue that you have no moral obligation, but you just don't want to feel bad, then also you have no moral obligation to people who are out of sight, out of mind. If you answer that you would happily drown the child yourself, or eat the child or rape the child, then clearly you are a psychopath and there is no point going any further.
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Old 9th February 2019, 09:16 AM   #16
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Anything which slows human population growth is much better for every non-human organism (minus human specific pathogens) on the planet.
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Old 9th February 2019, 09:19 AM   #17
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Originally Posted by autumn1971 View Post
Anything which slows human population growth is much better for every non-human organism (minus human specific pathogens) on the planet.
If you start with the premise that slowing human population growth is a good idea, then sending money to charity is likely to be some, small, contribution to that, because birth rates slow or decrease in more prosperous countries.
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"Evolution and Ethics" T.H. Huxley (1893)
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Old 9th February 2019, 09:19 AM   #18
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Originally Posted by autumn1971 View Post
Anything which slows human population growth is much better for every non-human organism (minus human specific pathogens) on the planet.
It tends to be better for humans too.
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Old 9th February 2019, 09:21 AM   #19
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There's no moral upside to any variation on any argument that boils down to "You can't maintain a Bob-esque level of 100% moral and ideological purity and consistency at all times."

I'll never understand the desire to place "consistency" so far above "Useful or end good" whenever we talk morality and philosophy.
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Old 9th February 2019, 09:22 AM   #20
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I suppose we could argue that if the child is from a developed country that they will cost more to feed and raise and that the money spent rearing the child would be better spent on mosquito nets in Africa.*


*that way, millions of mosquitoes won't get AIDS.
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"Evolution and Ethics" T.H. Huxley (1893)
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Old 9th February 2019, 09:25 AM   #21
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Originally Posted by JoeMorgue View Post
There's no moral upside to any variation on any argument that boils down to "You can't maintain a Bob-esque level of 100% moral and ideological purity and consistency at all times."

I'll never understand the desire to place "consistency" so far above "Useful or end good" whenever we talk morality and philosophy.
It isn't. Certainly not if you are utilitarian, as Peter Singer is. Singer is all about the end results.
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"Evolution and Ethics" T.H. Huxley (1893)
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Old 9th February 2019, 09:30 AM   #22
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The drowning child presents an immediacy of choice, though. Sending money to abstract, endless children is Sisyphean in magnitude.

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
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Old 9th February 2019, 09:33 AM   #23
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There's also the.... errr I guess you'd call it "The size of the system" to take into account.

Our hypothetical "Drowning child in front of me" is not part of some complex societal level system of interconnect social, political, economic, and so forth forces working with and against each other in an amazing complex way.

Morality that tries to reduce itself down to essentially just straight asking "Are you a psychopath or not?" has no value beyond a simple thought experiment.
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Old 9th February 2019, 09:39 AM   #24
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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.
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"Evolution and Ethics" T.H. Huxley (1893)
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Old 9th February 2019, 09:43 AM   #25
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Originally Posted by JoeMorgue View Post
There's also the.... errr I guess you'd call it "The size of the system" to take into account.
Sure. That could be part of it, too. And?

Originally Posted by JoeMorgue View Post
Our hypothetical "Drowning child in front of me" is not part of some complex societal level system of interconnect social, political, economic, and so forth forces working with and against each other in an amazing complex way.
No, it isn't. Obviously the distancing effect explains why we feel that the situations are different. But it doesn't mean that we can't apply reason as well as feels.

That is the point of Singer's thought experiment - to get people to think, and to reason. Though it usually results in people rationalizing, which is a very different thing.

Originally Posted by JoeMorgue View Post
Morality that tries to reduce itself down to essentially just straight asking "Are you a psychopath or not?" has no value beyond a simple thought experiment.
Yeah, and absolutely nobody has tried to do anything like that. I hope you are not assuming that is what I said. If you do, then you really didn't read what I said carefully.
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"Evolution and Ethics" T.H. Huxley (1893)
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Old 9th February 2019, 10:13 AM   #26
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Originally Posted by angrysoba View Post
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?
Yes, but the triviality of a pair of shoes is a morally easy sacrifice. It cannot logically extrapolate to all the worlds children. The logical extension is impossible in magnitude.



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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.
That's the Christian thing, giving a tenth. But it would not morally allow you to sashay on by the drowning child. Triviality trumps, I think. The cutoff is entirely arbitrary. But just like telling the last soldier that he was dying for nothing, how do you tell the next starving kid that you gave your percentage at the office?

This is a little too heavy to do on a cel phone, I note.
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Old 9th February 2019, 10:13 AM   #27
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Originally Posted by angrysoba View Post
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?
It would be strange - and arguably highly immoral - for someone to help a stranger's child in preference to their own, or the children of a friend or even the children of their wider community.
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Old 9th February 2019, 10:22 AM   #28
angrysoba
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Originally Posted by Thermal View Post
Yes, but the triviality of a pair of shoes is a morally easy sacrifice. It cannot logically extrapolate to all the worlds children. The logical extension is impossible in magnitude.
Nobody says it has to extrapolate to the whole of the world's children.

The context in which Singer wrote this was the Bangladeshi famine, when people were dying of starvation. A donation of any kind would probably have been preferable to nothing.

If, as you say, the cost of a pair of shoes is a morally easy sacrifice, then is it not a morally easy sacrifice to donate the price of those shoes to Bangladesh?



Originally Posted by Thermal View Post
That's the Christian thing, giving a tenth. But it would not morally allow you to sashay on by the drowning child.
Nobody is arguing that it would. Where is this argument even coming from?


Originally Posted by Thermal View Post
Ttivialiyy trumps, I think.
Is this an acronym? I have no idea what it means.

Originally Posted by Thermal View Post
The cutoff is entirely arbitrary. But just like telling the last soldier that he was dying for nothing, how do you tell the next starving kid that you gave your percentage at the office?

This is a little too heavy to do on a cel phone, I note.
I don't get this argument either.

Yes, the cutoff is arbitrary. So what? Are you now arguing that if you cannot save everyone at the expense of yourself, then you shouldn't save anyone?

This sounds like a terrible argument.
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Old 9th February 2019, 10:27 AM   #29
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Originally Posted by baron View Post
It would be strange - and arguably highly immoral - for someone to help a stranger's child in preference to their own, or the children of a friend or even the children of their wider community.
I don't know who is saying this.

This isn't a question of "save the drowning kid nearby" OR "save someone abroad".

It's just a question of:

"Would you save kid A?"
"Yes, absolutely and to hell with the costs!"

"Would you save kid B?"
"No, because... ****** Like there have to be hundreds of reasons. Right, let me try Reason 1...no? Okay Reason 2...no? Reason 3...no, wait, I have got one here. You see, you shouldn't be consistent, yeah! That's it. Ermm, let me find something you said that I can twist out of recognition so we can avoid the argument..."
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Old 9th February 2019, 10:34 AM   #30
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Originally Posted by angrysoba View Post
Nobody says it has to extrapolate to the whole of the world's children.

The context in which Singer wrote this was the Bangladeshi famine, when people were dying of starvation. A donation of any kind would probably have been preferable to nothing.

If, as you say, the cost of a pair of shoes is a morally easy sacrifice, then is it not a morally easy sacrifice to donate the price of those shoes to Bangladesh?





Nobody is arguing that it would. Where is this argument even coming from?




Is this an acronym? I have no idea what it means.



I don't get this argument either.

Yes, the cutoff is arbitrary. So what? Are you now arguing that if you cannot save everyone at the expense of yourself, then you shouldn't save anyone?

This sounds like a terrible argument.
On a cel phone and its ******* freezing out here. The acronym word was a typo, has been corrected. With respond better when indoors.

Basicly, we are arguing on slightly different wavelengths. The OP asks about the drowning child. If we save him, why not donate to unseen others? The problem is the cutoff. When do you say 'enough', and say the next kid can die, because I really like my WiFi? And that is the logical conclusion to the drowning child, as I see it.
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Old 9th February 2019, 10:39 AM   #31
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Originally Posted by Thermal View Post
On a cel phone and its ******* freezing out here. The acronym word was a typo, has been corrected. With respond better when indoors.

Basicly, we are arguing on slightly different wavelengths. The OP asks about the drowning child. If we save him, why not donate to unseen others? The problem is the cutoff. When do you say 'enough', and say the next kid can die, because I really like my WiFi? And that is the logical conclusion to the drowning child, as I see it.
The question of the cutoff is a valid one, but as I read Singer, he's establishing a baseline and the exact level of reasonable contribution is another further discussion.

As a comparison off the top of my head which may or may not land- There is the discussion of whether or not taxes in general are reasonable and then the discussion of what amounts people should be taxed. The argument in the former case "But if people are taxed, where does it stop" is not a particularly powerful argument against the general idea of taxation. It's a question for that second debate.
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Old 9th February 2019, 10:46 AM   #32
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Originally Posted by Thermal View Post
On a cel phone and its ******* freezing out here. The acronym word was a typo, has been corrected. With respond better when indoors.

Basicly, we are arguing on slightly different wavelengths. The OP asks about the drowning child. If we save him, why not donate to unseen others? The problem is the cutoff. When do you say 'enough', and say the next kid can die, because I really like my WiFi? And that is the logical conclusion to the drowning child, as I see it.
The OP did a bad job of presenting the problem.

Anyway, I still don’t understand the objection.

You seem to be making a Nirvana fallacy - “if we save one kid in Bangladesh then they’ll all want saving so best save none!”

But the point of the thought experiment is to say there is no need to see the situations as radically different. Saving the kid in the pool and saving one other kid abroad could be the same cost to you. So if you would be happy enough to save one kid in a pool, why not save a kid in Bangladesh in the eventuality that you don’t have to save a drowning kid on your way to work today?
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"Evolution and Ethics" T.H. Huxley (1893)
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Old 9th February 2019, 10:51 AM   #33
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Originally Posted by angrysoba View Post
I don't know who is saying this.
I didn't claim anyone was saying it, I'm just stating an opinion based on that scenario.
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Old 9th February 2019, 10:54 AM   #34
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Originally Posted by angrysoba View Post
The OP did a bad job of presenting the problem.

Anyway, I still don’t understand the objection.

You seem to be making a Nirvana fallacy - “if we save one kid in Bangladesh then they’ll all want saving so best save none!”

But the point of the thought experiment is to say there is no need to see the situations as radically different.
There are radically different. In one case you either act and the kid lives, or you don't act and the kid dies. That scenario does not play out when donating to charity. What happens is you donate to a cause and, if you're lucky, some of your money will go to improving the lives of an unspecified number of people.
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Old 9th February 2019, 11:09 AM   #35
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Originally Posted by baron View Post
There are radically different. In one case you either act and the kid lives, or you don't act and the kid dies. That scenario does not play out when donating to charity. What happens is you donate to a cause and, if you're lucky, some of your money will go to improving the lives of an unspecified number of people.
That's what I meant about the immediacy, and the triviality of the sacrifice. The OP extending the cost/benefit analysis, if you will, is not analogous
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Old 9th February 2019, 11:14 AM   #36
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Originally Posted by Thermal View Post
That's what I meant about the immediacy, and the triviality of the sacrifice. The OP extending the cost/benefit analysis, if you will, is not analogous
Indeed, they're two separate concepts, which is why I brought up the issue of the either / or choice, as that would be a way of connecting them.
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Old 9th February 2019, 11:16 AM   #37
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the problem would be if the shoes were put on the child.
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Old 9th February 2019, 02:02 PM   #38
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Originally Posted by Cavemonster View Post
If you're going to talk about the argument, it would be best to base discussion on the actual argument.

At the least, we can sidestep questions about the mechanics of removing shoes.

https://www.utilitarian.net/singer/by/199704--.htm
There are a few versions out there. I will find the version I had in mind and link it.

The general idea of them all is that if we would sacrifice a certain amount to save a child in front of us then to be consistent we should sacrifice the same for children who live distant from us.

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Old 9th February 2019, 02:06 PM   #39
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Why does the moral philosopher get off scot-free in this scenario? Why is he sitting around in a cushy job asking stupid questions when he could be working in a soup kitchen or curing AIDS in Africa? If he was being consistent, we wouldn't have to deal with these kinds of questions in the first place...
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Old 9th February 2019, 02:16 PM   #40
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Originally Posted by angrysoba View Post
No, Peter Singer is not arguing that you ought to do what makes a favourable emotional impact on you
And I never suggested for a moment that he was arguing that.
Quote:
, he's merely saying that if you start with the premise that you ought to save a child's life at the expense of a pair of shoes, and that you would willingly sacrifice a pair of shoes in a situation in which a child can demonstrably be saved, then you ought to send money to save a child's life if you can do it.

[/quote]
And I am pointing out that it doesn't follow.

It all depends on why you think you ought to save the child in front of you.

If it because of some objectively existing moral standard then he could be right

But if it is instead based on our emotional reaction to the drowning child then it doesn't follow since, as human beings, we have different emotional reactions to people at greater separation from us.

You and. I are both psychopathic towards people sufficiently far away.

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