Sunday, October 17, 2010

Interpretive Response: Singer Essay

Interpretive Response:

In the “Singer Solution to World Poverty,” Singer assumes and implies several attitudes toward the issue of donation. In his essay he describes two hypothetical situations. The first hypothetical situation is a woman, Dora, who is given the choice to make a thousand dollars. She persuades a homeless boy to go with her where he will be adopted by foreigners. After she does this she buys a new TV. When she finds out that the boy was too old for adoption and will be killed, Dora decides to take the boy back. The second hypothetical situation that Singer illustrates is a man, Bob, who owns a Bugatti, which he intensely enjoys. One day he parks his Bugatti by a railroad track. Then he sees a runaway train and a child who will get hit. He had a choice to flip a switch which would stop the train, but he decides to save his car instead. Singer manipulates these two situations to invoke a response from the reader. This is effective, as I felt very negative toward Bob. Singer seems to favor Dora because she chose to save the child. He assumes his audience feels similarly if she did not save the child as he notes, “She would then have become, in the eyes of the audience, a monster." Singer implies that Dora's actions are more acceptable than Bob's as he says, "Bob's conduct, most of us will immediately respond, was gravely wrong."
Throughout the rest of his essay he assumes that the American public is also like Bob in which they have the ability and opportunity to save the lives of children, but choose not to. He supports this argument by adding, “So, if we condemn Bob for not saving the child, how can we not condemn all of the people with surplus wealth who do not donate a dollar?” This persuades me to want to give to organizations which will help the needy. Singer at this point convicts me of being selfish. However, at the end of Singer's essay, he demands his readers that, “the formula is simple: whatever money you're spending on luxuries, not necessities, should be given away." At this point, my attitude toward the essay changes. Singer assumes, incorrectly, that everyone has extra money to spend. This demand is unreasonable because he asks people to give away ALL their money that they rightfully earned. In the beginning of his article he discussed giving $200 to save a child, a reasonable implication. In my opinion, Singer takes his essay too far, and therefore loses his intention to persuade.

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