by Patch O'Furr
Imagine you are walking by yourself and see someone drowning. You could easily save the person, but your shoes will be ruined and you would have to buy another pair. Would you rescue the drowning individual anyway despite the monetary cost of new shoes?
Most furries, I’d wager, would reply in the affirmative. So if you would sacrifice $50 or $100 (depending on your taste in footwear) to save someone’s life, why spend $2000 on a full fursuit if that same $2000 could prevent the needless deaths of even more people in need somewhere in the world?
This is the dilemma that Peter Singer poses to us. Singer is an influential modern ethicist in the utilitarian tradition, both well known and rather infamous for his various viewpoints on euthanasia, veganism, zoophilia, and economic equality (none of which are the subjects of this article).
One of his central conclusions, based on the thought experiment just provided, is that everyone in the developed world can and should live on a basic subsistence level, with all their surplus money being given to the poor around the world. These could take the form of donations to various NGOs and charities, governmental foreign aid, or self-funded projects. (Assume the programs in question are the kind that have measurable results and where most of the money goes directly to those in need; Charity Navigator is a valuable tool for this).
In his utilitarian calculus (which prioritizes the results of actions and emphasizes the ‘greatest good for the greatest number’ and overall human happiness and freedom from suffering), any spending on luxuries while others are starving is immoral.
This means my fursuit is killing people. Since rather than donate the thousand or so dollars spent on head, tail, hands and feet (not to mention the reproduction 19th century Prussian uniform) to needy third world people, I instead spent it on something novel that I don’t really *need*…at least not like needy people need food, clothing, and medicine.