Is It Immoral to Indulge in Luxuries?

Even if most people would say it is morally good to be charitable, it is still a commonly accepted position that it is not immoral to refrain from donating excess wealth to the relief of others. In his influential 1971 essay, “Famine, Affluence, and Morality,” Peter Singer lays out an argument for redefining our conception of the morality of charity. He argues that we now live in a vast, yet inextricably interconnected “global village.” Singer argues that through advances in technology and the work of international aid organizations, we are now in a position to alleviate the suffering of the global poor any time we choose to give away our wealth rather than indulge in a luxury. Should this shift in our ability to offer meaningful assistance to those in dire need cause us to reconsider the morality of indulging in luxuries? Dr. Thad Botham thinks so. Arguing in the affirmative, Dr. Botham suggests that is immoral to indulge in creaturely comforts that we do not actually need (such as expensive dinners or name brand clothing), when our funds could instead be donated to humanitarian organizations such as CARE, who need only a few dollars to save lives and alleviate suffering. Arguing in the negative, is undergraduate philosophy and political science major, Jared Iverson.

After watching the debate, should you feel inclined to donate or learn more about the work that CARE is doing around the world, you can visit their website here.

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