The Drowning Child

This activity looks at some of the issues raised by two articles written by philosopher Peter Singer: the first, the seminal, "Famine, Affluence, and Morality"; the second, a somewhat shorter article called, "The Drowning Child and the Expanding Circle" (it's probably best if you read these articles after, rather than before, you undertake this activity).

It is necessary to make a couple of things clear before we get going. The first is that if you're a moral nihilist - i.e., if you think there's no such thing as right and wrong - then this activity probably isn't for you. (Try out one of our logic exercises instead, such as Elementary, My Dear Wason?).

The second has to do with the nature of the scenarios you're going to be asked about. These are variations on a single baseline scenario (which was first introduced by Professor Singer). The important point is that you should treat each variation on its own terms. In particular, the changes introduced in a particular variation don't carry over to the next variation - all variations are a modification of the original baseline scenario.

Okay, that's it really. You're ready to go.

Really Deep Thought

Is it so bad, then, to be misunderstood? Pythagoras was misunderstood, and Socrates, and Jesus, and Luther, and Copernicus, and Galileo, and Newton, and every pure and wise spirit that ever took flesh. To be great is to be misunderstood.
   --Ralph Waldo Emerson.


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