Friday, February 17, 2012

Answering Singer's Call

After some discussion of Peter Singer's work, students in my Philosophy and Public Issues class have expressed a desire to donate money to a charity. I mentioned two charities that I think are fairly effective/are engaging in admirable work: Heifer International and OXFAM. I'm sure readers of this blog have other suggestions for deserving charities. I'm hoping to get a list of charities over the next week or two. I'll then post a poll to see which gets the most votes. The winner will receive the funds that we're able to collect this semester. I'm hoping to cast a fairly wide net. We might consider setting up a table in the University Center to get donations from students not enrolled in the class, faculty/staff, etc. But first things first. Where should we send the money?

MOVED UP FROM 2/9: I've moved this post up in the hopes that I'll get a few more suggestions...

11 comments:

Adam Lerner said...

Hi Jesse,

Have you visited www.givewell.org?

Best,
Adam

Jesse Steinberg said...

Adam, Thanks for the pointer! I've seen a couple of websites like this one, but givewell.org does look like a great resource. Do you recommend any particular charities?
cheers,
Jesse

Anonymous said...

The UN World Food Programme does excellent work.

Anonymous said...

Palestinian Children's Relief Fund.

Jesse Steinberg said...

We might also think about micro-lending (givewell.org has a few organizations listed). For example, the folks at kiva.org seem to be doing some great work. Another organization to consider is accion.org.

Sherry Troutman said...

The Red Cross does really good work as well. I really like that Charity.

Anonymous said...

I know little about Peter Singer, and I am not in your class. It appears to me that most of your charities are international rather than local. It appears (from my shallow research) that Singer has suggested that we should not to favor those closest to us (I don't know if that is a direct quote from Singer). (My question: is closest emotional or spatial or both?) Just tossing this out there: what are the philosophical (or perhaps efficiency) arguments for or against local versus not local giving & would someone be able to suggest one local charity to add to the poll? (or perhaps some of the charities suggested actually are local?)

Sherry Troutman said...

We have a local red cross in our area. =)Part of the reason why I suggested it.

Shannell Wise said...

globalgiving.org is another good one. They have all different categories we can choose from. We talked in class about how "knowledge is power" so we can even give to a charity that helps with education in third world countries! but i do really like the heiferinternational idea to do as a class. If we WERE talking local organizations I've heard nothing but good things about Make-A-Wish Foundation and St. Judes Childrens Hospital. However, I don't believe Singer would agree that these people are in enough poverty that they would need our charity as much as starving people in third world countries.

Jesse Steinberg said...

Anon 2/18: You're right to point out that Singer argues for helping those in dire need. Of course, those that suffering most (from famine, lack of clean water, etc.) do not live near me. They probably don't live near anyone reading this blog. It does make sense to help those that are most in need and Singer's arguments about why proximity is a morally irrelevant feature when debating about whom one ought to help are rather powerful. (But there's an interesting discussion to be had about the comparative merits of helping one's kin or neighbors over helping those in far off lands.) I'll certainly add the local charities onto the poll that I'll soon post. As I said, we'll just go with the one that gets the most votes.

Thanks for bringing this up!

Audrey Wenger said...

Thinking over this topic, I must say that I think morally we should give to the third world country before our friend Kent. I think we often help our friends and family before people we do not know because we are wrapped up in our own world. We are looking at our actions and choosing the one that has a positive impact on us. If we give money to third world countries we don’t get any reward for this (other than happiness), but if we help our friend or family, they are around us to thank us, or repay the favor, and so forth.

To Joe Burns comment, I think he made some great points. Why do we get to decide who deserves help versus someone else? (But I only agree with this in some situations) If you are comparing water to someone’s medical bills, a person needs water to survive, so they would deserve our help more. However, if you are comparing, someone who just lost a job to someone who has medical bills, they are pretty equal. The person, who just lost their job, probably has some savings to hold them over till they find another job, and with medical bills there are ways to possibly get loans or consolidate the bills.

Therefore when making decisions about who to help, we must not only look at total aggregated happiness (Utilitarianism) but also our motives. Both of these theories I feel point towards the fact that morally we should give to third world countries before family and friends.