Friday, August 2, 2019
Our Moral Responsibility to Provide Monetary Aid to Pakistani Villagers Essay
In this essay, I will argue that the theory of Utilitarianism presents resilient, compelling arguments that exemplifies why we have a moral obligation to donate money to help the Pakistani villagers affected by recent floods. Though the argument put forth by Ethical Egoists in favor of donating money to the Pakistanis is convincing, it lacks the quantitative validation that Utilitarianism provides. The Perspective of an Ethical Egoist Ethical Egoism is a consequentialist moral theory that says each person ought to pursue his or her own self-interest exclusively (EMP 69). A personÃ¢â¬â¢s only moral duty is to do what is best for him or herself, and he or she helps others only if the act [of helping] benefits the individual in some way (EMP 63). On the surface, it appears that it is not in a personÃ¢â¬â¢s best self-interests to donate money to help villagers in Pakistan. The giver experiences monetary loss and the diminution of personal financial wealth, and expends time, energy, and effort in the donation-transaction process. He or she receives neither public acknowledgement nor donor recognition. There are, however, intangible benefits that the giver may reap as a result of his or her deed, such as the satisfaction that he or she receives from giving monetary aid to the Pakistanis or the happiness that he or she experiences for acting in accordance with his or her values. It is in the giverÃ¢â¬â¢s self-interest and, therefore, his or her moral duty to give monetary aid to those plagued by the Pakistan floods. The facts that an Ethical Egoist would consider to be important are the consequences to him or herself because Ethical Egoism is a consequentialist moral theory that revolves around the self. Consequentialism contends that the right thing to do is determined by the consequences brought about from it (Class Notes, 10/05/2010). In this case, the morally relevant facts that the Ethical Egoist is primarily concerned with are the intangible benefits and advantages that he or she would receive from giving. The Ethical Egoist would also consider the actual and implicit costs of giving aid, as they are consequences brought about from helping the Pakistani villagers. The argument put forth by Ethical Egoism is good because it is compatible with commonsense morality. To reiterate, Ethical Egoism says that Ã¢â¬Å"all duties are ultimately derived from the one fundamental principle of self-interestÃ¢â¬ (EMP 73). According to Hobbes, this theory leads to the Golden Rule, which states that Ã¢â¬Å"we should Ã¢â¬Ëdo unto othersÃ¢â¬â¢ because if we do, others will be more likely to Ã¢â¬Ëdo unto usÃ¢â¬â¢Ã¢â¬ (EMP 74). In this case, if we do not give to others, other people will not give to us. Thus, it is to our advantage to give to others. The Utilitarian Argument Classical, or Act, Utilitarianism maintains that the morally right act is the one that yields maximum happiness for all sentient beings impartially. Utilitarianism requires us to consider the general welfare of society and the interests of other people. Giving money to help the villagers in Pakistan generates positive consequences and diminishes the negative effects of the floods. Specifically, donations for disaster relief results in the availability of medicines to treat sicknesses, the provision and distribution of cooked meals, hygiene kits, and clothing, and the reconstruction and restoration of homes and schools. In short, giving money relieves great suffering of the flood-affected Pakistanis, enhances the balance of happiness over misery, and endorses the maximum and greater good of society. Therefore, the morally right thing to do is to donate money to help the Pakistani villagers. Similar to Ethical Egoism, Utilitarianism is a consequentialist moral theory, though this theory is concerned with the greater good of society. Therefore, the morally relevant facts for a Utilitarian are the consequences to all people impartially. In this case, they include the circulation of food, clothing, medicines, and the restoration of villages. Providing monetary aid ultimately produces the greatest balance of happiness over unhappiness for society. The Utilitarian argument for donating money is good because it provides calculable validation. In other words, the utility of the receivers is quantifiable and tangible (number of meals, hygiene kits, water tanks provided, number of homes rebuilt, etc. ). This tangibility clearly illustrates that the utility of the receiver exceeds the marginal cost to the giver and produces the greatest amount of happiness over unhappiness. Why the Utilitarian Argument is Stronger There is an epistemic problem that weakens the argument given by the Ethical Egoist. We do not know precisely what the consequences will be. We expect that the intangible benefits include self-satisfaction, enjoyment of giving, and happiness from providing financial aid, and we estimate that the costs consist of the actual donation payment and all related opportunity costs; however, we do not know exactly what the consequences will be and the extent of the results. It is, thus, difficult to gauge whether donating to charity is actually in the giverÃ¢â¬â¢s best self-interest exclusively because the associated costs may be very great (the giver may end up poorer or the donation-transaction process may be stressful; both situations would not be to his or her advantage). The immeasurability and intangibility of the benefits also weakens the argument. Ayn Rand, an Ethical Egoist, responds to this objection and asserts that it is completely moral and permissible to offer aid to others even when one does not anticipate any tangible return; Ã¢â¬Å"personal reasons for offering aidÃ¢â¬âreasons consistent with oneÃ¢â¬â¢s values and oneÃ¢â¬â¢s pursuit of oneÃ¢â¬â¢s own lifeÃ¢â¬âare sufficient to justify the actÃ¢â¬ (Gordon Shannon, 10/16/2010). Rand says that personal reasons, such as values and pursuit of a flourishing life, are adequate to justify the act. We run, however, into a problem: just because we have a moral justification to give aid, does it mean we are morally required to give aid? Rand provides a moral justification, but not a moral mandate; this makes the argument put forth by Ethical Egoism weak. While Ethical Egoism provides a convincing argument and response to the objection, the Utilitarian argument is stronger because it buffers against the epistemic problem and provides quantitative, calculable validation. The problem of epistemology does not apply to or weaken the Utilitarian argument because we know what the consequences will be, based on present initiatives. Plan UK has provided cooked meals to over 250,000 people, shelter for 230,000, water tanks, hygiene kits, and medicines for thousands of families (Plan UK). We know how the money will benefit the Pakistani villagers and we can quantify the amount of happiness and good that entails the act of giving aid to others. To summarize: Ethical Egoism says that we ought to pursue our own self-interests exclusively. The morally right act is the one that benefits the self. There is, however, an epistemic problem. We do not know what the consequences will be or the extent of these outcomes. Donating to charity may not benefit the self. Utilitarianism, however, avoids the problem of epistemology and immeasurability. Therefore, Utilitarianism is the stronger argument. Conclusion In this paper, I have presented the theories of Ethical Egoism and Utilitarianism, delved into the morally relevant facts, and reflected on why each argument is good. I illustrated why Utilitarianism is stronger by appealing to a weakness of Ethical Egoism. Thus, the Utilitarian perspective that we have a moral duty to donate money to help Pakistani villagers is a better argument.
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