THE LOGIC OF SINGER'S ARGUMENT ON FAMINE

PREMISES:

1. COMPARABLE MORAL SIGNIFICANCE PRINCIPLE:

If we can prevent something bad without sacrificing anything of comparable (moral) significance, we ought to do it.

2. Absolute poverty is bad.

3. There is some absolute poverty we can prevent without sacrificing anything of comparable moral significance.

CONCLUSION: We ought to prevent some absolute poverty. [In fact, we ought to prevent as much absolute poverty as we can without sacrificing anything of comparable moral significance.]

THE PARALLEL LOGIC OF SINGER'S DROWNING CHILD ARGUMENT

PREMISES:

1. COMPARABLE MORAL SIGNIFICANCE PRINCIPLE:

If we can prevent something bad without sacrificing anything of comparable (moral) significance, we ought to do it.

2. A child's drowning is bad.

3. Getting one's clothes wet and missing a lecture are not of comparable moral significance to the life of a child.

CONCLUSION: If we could save the life of a drowning child without any sacrifice other than one's clothes getting wet and a missed lecture, we ought to save the life of the drowning child.

A POOR EXPLANATION OF A CONCLUSION

PREMISES:

(1) The Moon Is Made Of Green Cheese

The Incumbent (Clinton) Was Reelected President In 1996

(2) The Moon Is Made of Green Cheese

CONCLUSION: The Incumbent (Clinton) Was Reelected President in 1996.

A BETTER EXPLANATION OF THE SAME CONCLUSION

(PREMISES)

(1) When U.S. Citizens Are Optimistic About the Economy in a Presidential Election Year and there is an Incumbent Running for President, they Reelect the Incumbent.

(2) 1996 Was a Presidential Election Year and U.S. Citizens Were Optimistic About the Economy and There was an Incumbent (Clinton) Running for President.                  

CONCLUSION: U.S. Citizens Reelected the Incumbent (Clinton) in 1996.