Evaluation of intentions and results

Famine, Affluence, and Morality by Peter Singer

1. What historical situation does Singer’s essay address?  What is he arguing should be done?

2. What two assumptions is Singer making?  What are the two implications of his second assumption?

3. What is a supererogatory act, and why does Singer mention this moral category?

4. What two objections to his position does Singer anticipate?

5. What role does Singer think philosophers can and should play in public affairs?


A Kantian Approach to Famine Relief by Onora O’Neill

1. What is the formula of the end in itself?

2. What is the difference between treating a person as a means and treating a person as a mere means? Construct a simple example that illustrates the difference.

3. Explain the difference between the requirements of justice and beneficence in Kantian ethics.

4. Discuss some of the specific requirements that Kantian duties of justice place on us in times of famine.  Explain why these requirements are clearer in the cases of those who live with or near famine than in the cases of those who live far from famine.

5. Why does a Kantian give famine relief “high standing” among our duties of beneficence?

6. What is the difference between Kantian theory and utilitarian theory regarding the evaluation of intentions and results?

7. Contrast utilitarian and Kantian views about the value of human life. Construct an example that illustrates the difference.

8. Contrast O’Neill’s views on famine relief with those of Peter Singer.  How do the differences reflect the differences in their respective ethical theories?

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