The Philosophy Department is pleased to
announce that Mathew Snow (University of Pittsburgh) will give a
talk titled “Famine, Affluence, and Bourgeois Morality” on Friday,
November 13, at 3:30 p.m. in McElhaney 101.
Peter Singer and proponents of a growing social
he has inspired (“Effective Altruism”) argue that affluent individuals
give significant portions of their income to cost-effective charities
benefit those living in extreme poverty. As innocuous—or even
this might appear in the abstract, their actual arguments belie a
morality so caught up in individual economic choices that it promises an
all-too-easy solution to the ills of global poverty.
Poverty and its
consequences are treated as natural maladies afflicting an unlucky lot
social cause aside, perhaps, from isolated bouts of unchecked greed and
corruption. Affluence is treated similarly as individuals’ more or less
deserts naturally apportioned by the impartial, free market. Such
undermine what might otherwise be a welcome movement and perniciously
two related points: (1) the moral values Effective Altruists endorse
an important ground for critiquing capitalism as such and (2) those
values can find expression in capitalist society only in adulterated
ways that cut against
their adequate realization.
Department of Philosophy