Wing FAN

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Philosophy (MPHIL)



First Advisor


Second Advisor

RICE James Andrew


World economy has been doing well in recent decades even taking into account the current financial crisis. However, there are even more people suffering from poverty and related issues than earlier. I am going to discuss the issue of helping poor people in the context of ethics.

In my thesis, I will firstly state the standard of absolute poverty, which will be the main focus in the remainder of the text. Then, I will present the argument given by a contemporary philosopher, Peter Singer, that urges us to give money to the poor people. I will go through his argument and his analogy between saving a drowning child and giving out our money for charity on poverty relief. Many people may think his theory controversial and difficult to accept. Afterwards, I will present main arguments against Singer. I will assess these arguments and claim that some of them fail as criticisms of Singer’s central claims. However some do successfully point out the flaws of Singer’s argument, and some actually aim at questioning the entire discussion of poverty relief. I will try to present and assess the effectiveness of the alternative arguments by other philosophers that avoid these criticisms and that try to support the aid in a different way.

The main question in my thesis in whether we have any moral obligation to help the poor people around the world. And if we have such duties, to what extent we are obliged to do so. I will do the literature review on different arguments and try to give my own opinions in different parts in my thesis.



Recommended Citation

Fan, W. (2009). Ethical problems in connection with world poverty (Master's thesis, Lingnan University, Hong Kong). Retrieved from

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