Peter Singer: Famine, Affluence, and Morality Essay

1399 WordsFeb 12, 20136 Pages
Lauren Formulak Professor Mrozinski 10/22/12 Human Rights: Consequential or Deontological View? Consequential ethics and deontological ethics (DE) mutually maintain that there is a right action that we morally ought to do. However, these normative ethical theories differ in the derivation of what is valued. In the case of human rights, both accounts are supportive of human rights, but for different reasons. Deontological ethics has as its basic thrust, the concept of a duty to do what is right. For one’s actions to be in accordance with DE, those actions must be realized out of a “notion of right (that) is not derived from a prior notion of good”, as explained by Illies (Illies, 2011, p. 107). A…show more content…
In this light, one who holds to the DE concept of human rights has at his imperative the treatment of all individuals with equal respect, and the duty to promote their freedom with an “active pro-attitude”. Why does one do this? One does because this action, an “active pro-attitude” is good and the action of good is inherently good. As opposed to the deontological account, the consequentialist believes in the prior conception of the good. If something is good then it is right to promote something good according to consequentialism (Lillehammer, 2011, p. 90). Moreover, the actions with the best end results or consequences are what are to be evaluated as good. It must be clear that good intentions are not, at all, of value to consequentialists. Further, it is important to note that in decision-making, a consequentialist must hold to the demands of impartiality. Consequentialism upholds the idea that no one person is worth more than another (Lillehammer, 2011, p. 90). As we read in “Famine, Affluence and Morality,” Singer asserts that suffering from lack of food, shelter and medical care are bad. If we accept this assumption, and if we can, by our actions, prevent this bad from occurring, we are morally obligated to do so unless in so doing we sacrifice something that is of “comparable moral importance” (Singer, 1972, p. 500). Not all consequentialists agree
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