The Life You Can Save

by Luke Muehlhauser on June 7, 2010 in Ethics,Video

Here’s a 3-minute video version of Peter Singer’s famous article, which was mirrored in Greg Boyd’s Godless Sermon:

The Life You Can Save.

Also: Bloggingheads discussion on the book.

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{ 18 comments… read them below or add one }

Josh June 7, 2010 at 9:57 pm

Man I am an asshole.

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lukeprog June 7, 2010 at 10:13 pm

Yeah, very hard to not take this as a guilt trip. :)

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Atheist.pig June 8, 2010 at 4:45 am

Peter Singer discussing The Life You Can Save with an economist.

http://bloggingheads.tv/diavlogs/24804

Good discussion.

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Haukur June 8, 2010 at 5:17 am

No, unlike Jesus, I don’t think poverty is infinite and eternal but I do worry whether aid is effective or wasted, whether it breeds dependence and so on. The ‘short answer’ given here doesn’t really address those questions at all.

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mitero June 8, 2010 at 5:25 am

“It will not bother me in the hour of death to reflect that I have been ‘had for a sucker’ by any number of imposters; but it would be a torment to know that one had refused even one person in need.”

C. S. Lewis

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Haukur June 8, 2010 at 5:51 am

“It will not bother me in the hour of death to reflect that I have been ‘had for a sucker’ by any number of imposters; but it would be a torment to know that one had refused even one person in need.”

William James put it like this:

Moral questions immediately present themselves as questions whose solution cannot wait for sensible proof.

And I do pay for the education of a child in Africa. That doesn’t mean I’m not skeptical about the whole enterprise.

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Haukur June 8, 2010 at 8:15 am

Peter Singer discussing The Life You Can Save with an economist.

http://bloggingheads.tv/diavlogs/24804

Good discussion.

Indeed, this was excellent. Thanks for the link!

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Erika June 8, 2010 at 9:17 am

And if you’re skeptical about what is being done with your money when you send it to far away lands, find something local to support. Even in the US there is real death and suffering happening due to poverty and homelessness (although nowhere near as widespread). If you help a local organization you can see what they do, and maybe even participate.

(Note: I personally think international aid is also important and personally do both, but local aid is good for those who want to see where their money is going.)

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lukeprog June 8, 2010 at 9:30 am

I’ll add that to the post.

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Razm June 8, 2010 at 2:59 pm

Atheist.pig, is there a script of that conversation @ blogging heads?

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Mazen Abdallah June 8, 2010 at 11:16 pm

Pete singer believes in a lot of ‘unconventional’ stuff. No end to the criticism that man receives

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Atheist.pig June 9, 2010 at 4:17 am

Atheist.pig, is there a script of that conversation @ blogging heads?

No Razm, there’s an mp3 but no script available:
http://download.bloggingheads.tv/completed/bhtv-2009-12-16-ps-we.mp3

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Eneasz June 9, 2010 at 7:04 am

mitero, I’m pretty sure C. S. Lewis didn’t die in crushing poverty. Make of that what you will.

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Almost Chris June 9, 2010 at 4:07 pm

The question of the effectiveness of aid is a big question. The video raised the question, then dropped it in favor of the simplistically easy “drop in the bucket” question, which is so easy to answer, I doubt few people legitimately ask it. While many ask the effectiveness question. Often, blanketing a country in aid is ineffective and counter-productive. And the jury is out regarding micro-financing such as Kiva, but seems to be leaning in its favor.

See:

http://www.givewell.org

http://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/408/island-time?bypass=true

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Razm June 9, 2010 at 4:54 pm

@ Atheist.pig,

Kk. Thanks.

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Jeff H June 9, 2010 at 4:57 pm

Indeed. I’d echo the concerns of the people above. Certainly there are plenty of people who want to help, but they want to make sure that the way in which they help is actually providing real results. Real change. I know for myself, I tend to shy away from disaster relief efforts and food aid that offer short-term solutions. (Certainly I have nothing against people who do donate to these.) I prefer to look for longer-term solutions that produce self-sufficiency.

I also think it’s drastically important that we modify the larger societal structure so that poverty can be reduced long-term. When thinking about a lot of potential solutions, I find that a lot of them likely end up pulling one person out of poverty while another gets pushed down. And that’s not a solution. That’s just a way for middle class white people to feel good. What it’s going to take (in my opinion) is a shift away from consumerism in the Western world, along with a greater push toward worker co-operatives as a valid form of business structure, rather than corporate hierarchies. This, of course, needs to be coupled with a strong push for more education and better health care to produce a society that knows how to run an economy and can live long enough to do it.

My two cents on the matter. Certainly a great video for examining the moral reasoning behind charitable giving.

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Evelyn Reed July 19, 2010 at 3:02 am

food aids are badly needed by third world countries and we really need to give something to the poor.;,;

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Welder work December 12, 2010 at 9:43 pm

we can always give food aid to the african countries if we just save some pennies and donate it to them *’~

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