Are we obligated to help someone? Essay

The question that I have proposed in my research paper is “why does Peter Singer think that we are obligated to help random people, as long as it is in our power to prevent something bad from happening point one, and second as long as we aren't sacrificing or causing bodily harm to ourselves in summary. Peter Singer states; “If it is in our power to prevent something bad from happening, without thereby sacrificing anything of comparable moral importance, we ought, morally, to do it” (Famine, Affluence, and Morality). The moral compulsion to help others is our natural instinct as humans, even if they might be strangers. Whatever type of aid that we are giving to help is “just” or “right” as long as it’s helping the situation obviously.

For instance, it was a rainy day in the cold streets of Portland Maine, I had been walking home after I just got of the gym. I stopped at the local gas station to pick up something to eat as I was hungry, I grabbed a sandwich, healthy choice of chips, and a drink. While I was strolling down the street toward my house I saw a man walking in the rain with no coat, and who looked a little grungy, almost homeless. I knew as soon as I saw him that I was definitely better of than him as I had a place to rest my head and food etc. I walked over to him and gave the man my jacket, chips, drink, and lastly sandwich all in that order. I am no means rich but I knew from the instant that I took a glance at the man I was better off than him. I felt obligated to help him as he was in a much worse situation than myself. There was only little that I could possibly do for the man but sharing and giving him the goods that I had, was one of the best options I could have done in that situation. I helped that man for the time being on that day, and it was a a good short term soulton.

Howard Zinn said it best; “Small acts when multiplied by millions can transform the world” (Quotes Ville). This quote by Howard Zinn from the way I interpreted was suggesting that as long as the human race stays on this earth, that all we have to do is “try” within our own power and help situations we see that we can actually help. This would definitely make the world a better place for the human population. On a micro-scale the small instances that we see in our everyday life where we don’t take action and we probably could of would make a huge difference. The macro-level if everyone did this then every small action would be multiplied and then the total of actions will be therefore greater in the end and a more significant impact would have been made. It’s the ripple effect once the snowball get rolling then everyone starts to buy in then it compounds. The picture that is being portrayed, is that as long as our life isn't being put into devastating situations such as harming, or threatening, we have a “moral” obligation to help out others. With this helpful mindest, rest assured that we as humans, we should be morally be bound to aid fellow human beings.

The main question presented by Peter Singer contains “morality”; which is defined by the Merriam-Webster Dictionary as “of or relating to principles of right and wrong in behavior”. Morals are based on someone's perspective and how that person sees the world, so if this statement is true then a person can argue that their morals or upbringing doesn’t really lineup or conform to those of others, thus seeing no moral obligation to genuinely help others. To rebuttal this argument so many threatening things are in this world that we live in everyday. It is of the utmost importance that our assistance is required. Therefore, we cannot just sit back and be a bystander to all of the things that are happening around us and just let everything unfold by itself and not have any influence on some outcomes that we can control.

As a good example would be poverty in America as a whole. Multiple families, and people who don’t coexist with a family have no shelter, no food, or any needs that a human needs to survive. We “must” consider it to be a moral obligation to assist those whom are less fortunate, especially if they are in the same country as us and less about people who are further away. I would say the majority of people nowadays do not deem it to be a responsibility to help others unless immediate family, or the law makes them because of the consequence of persecution. To this objection I reply; “morality” is the act or acts that is conforming to what must be done because it is right, and in the eyes of the public it’s common knowledge that if you help someone in need it is not wrong or immoral. This is a just act. This is basically giving us the guidelines of what it means to be moral or have morals.

In the United States we live in a union where we get to enjoy free will, individual freedom, and liberty. Although this is true there are situations in which we have to act fast, and need our full action as it could cause someone to get hurt or lose their life. A classical example is; I am in a room with someone who happens to faint and needs emergency help. By law, I have no obligation to aid this person at all, but due to me not helping them I would have a moral conscience. I have this moral or gut feeling that I will at least try to whatever it is I can do to aid this person. If i just call the police I would definitely be helping but would it really help the victim at the moment? Committing this act of bravery has helped this person in the long run, as I could be saving them from suffering effects of passing out, or in extremes death. Most laws had to have some obligation to doing something moral or in-moral. Morality, is the building stronghold that governs the way our laws have been made in the past as well as today. In our government system, laws that make it illegal lie under oath, murder, steal, and rape all draw to the conclusion from the fact that morality defends that such actions are wrong or immoral.

There is a large community of philosophers with the values and views as stated above such as Charlie Dunbar Broad, Emmanuel Levinas, and W. G. Maclagan; as they all agree that we must help people in need. We are in a social network and society of U.S. citizens, by which means we are constantly interacting with one another so it seems only right that we feel the moral obligation to assist one another. Charlie Dunbar Broad suggested that we as humans, the tenets of altruism allow us to perform functions that mitigate agony and sufferings, and endorse the happiness and contentment of our fellow human beings. This altruistic principle suggests that one ought to markdown in general his or her own satisfaction when pursuing the interest of others.

Immanuel Kant one of the philosophers that we learned and read about in class suggest that some altruistic behaviors are not truly altruistic because of motives that actually are behind the action. For instance, Kant may argue that my deed of giving to the poor was not really an altruistic behavior because I had a motive to seek praise or any other award. On the other hand if I had done this action because I felt a moral duty based on how my conscience would feel if I had not acted, but wanted no praise and still helped them even in Kant’s value, it was a kind action with no true moral merit because I had received an intrinsic feeling of happiness and satisfaction.

Nonetheless, I truly believe that regardless of whatever feeling I might have from the experience I still had given the poor food. It does not matter as compared to what the outcome of the duty was performed. By saying that altruistic behaviors are only truly perform in instances where there are no rewards gained is like saying indirectly that altruism is quite impossible to morally accomplish. This is because altruism is linked to morality but it also usually involves emotions from behaviors or actions so the attempt of trying to separate compassion and other emotional sentiments from altruism may in fact be futile. By seeing that we have a moral obligation to help human beings wherverv, whomever, we are improving the living conditions for all.

Morality can be based on consciousness and various perspectives but morals, regardless of distinct cultures, have a core fundamental of comprehending what is right and wrong. By this, we are held to an obligation to assist those in need. This means that we should feel obligated to do whatever it is within our might to aid situations that need assistance.

How to cite this essay: