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Does morality create more suffering than it relieves? Show more Show less
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Morality can cause suffering, and can also relieve suffering. But where exactly is the balance? Does morality create more suffering than it relieves, or relieve more suffering than it creates?

No, morality relieves more suffering than it creates. Show more Show less

Morality relieves more suffering because morality allows others to depend on you and vice versa, it makes everyone feel needed in some way, as well as the fact that for religious people, having strong morals can lead to a pleasant experience after they pass away. Strong morality can also lead to altruism, which can physiologically cause happiness.
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No, morality obligates us to prevent suffering.

Although values are relative between individuals, suffering is a universal evil. In order for us to live a moral life, we must do what we are capable of to relieve suffering on any scale.
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The Argument

Morality concerns the distinction between what is good and what is evil. Although one person’s morals are inherently different from others, there are values in which most moral people would share judgment. If something can be agreed upon to be evil, then it is our moral duty to prevent it. Effective altruism, a moral philosophy popularized by Peter Singer, accepts three premises. The first being that suffering and death from lack of food, shelter, and medical care is bad. If one is capable of preventing something bad, then they are morally ought to do it. Then, "if it is in our power to prevent something very bad from happening, without thereby sacrificing anything morally significant, we ought, morally, to do it." <sup><a class="ref-highlight" href="#reference-1">[1]</a></sup>The efforts taken must not sacrifice anything of comparable moral importance to minimize the overall suffering. The net benefit of effective altruism outweighs other alternatives in reducing suffering. Current studies suggest that "if you earn the typical income in the US, and donate 10% of your earnings each year to the Against Malaria Foundation, you will probably save dozens of lives over your lifetime."[2] This morality affects evil on a universal scale, rather than internally.

Counter arguments

Effective altruism is considered too demanding to be plausible. Suppose a woman can choose between donating the money she has to a charity or buying an expensive medicine for her child. If donating to charity would save five other children but her child would die, under the theory’s impartial perspective “the lives of five children outweigh the one life of [her] child.” [3]If the lives of family members are universally accepted to be of more priority than the lives of strangers, then this directly conflicts with effective altruism’s first premises. Critics reject the suggestion of universal moral duty, given the subjectivity of morality and recognized complexity.[4]

Proponents

Premises

Rejecting the premises

References

  1. https://personal.lse.ac.uk/robert49/teaching/mm/articles/Singer_1972Famine.pdf
  2. https://www.effectivealtruism.org/articles/introduction-to-effective-altruism/
  3. https://www.etd.ceu.hu/2011/kanygina_yuliya.pdf
  4. https://ssir.org/articles/entry/the_elitist_philanthropy_of_so_called_effective_altruism
This page was last edited on Monday, 28 Sep 2020 at 08:57 UTC

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