Formula for solving the problem of world poverty: "Whatever money you're spending on luxuries, not necessities, should be given away". This is the solution Peter Singer proposes in The Singer Solution to World Poverty. Singer obtains this solution by using the examples of Dora and Bob, and arguing that we are in similar situations as Dora and Bob. Furthermore, Singer convinces us that to live a morally decent life we should donate the money not spent on necessities. Although Singer does not make much effort to justify how his proposal may effectively solve the problem of world poverty, we, as responsive readers, should make our own effort to reflect on it.
The term "necessity" is crucial in Singer's piece and needs particular attention; because how we define necessity directly determines the amount of money a household should give away according to Singer's proposal, which in turns determines how many lives can be saved and to what extent the problem of world poverty can be solved. It is hard to define "necessity" since listing all things considered to be necessity is laborious. Or it is easy to define "necessity"; the Oxford English Dictionary gives a simple definition: "An imperative need for or of something (4a.)". However, this definition is rather vague or abstract. Singer does not give much account on "necessities"; nevertheless, Singer does give us some clues.
"In fact, the average family in the United States spends almost one-third of its income on things that are no more necessary to them than Dora's new TV was to her. Going out to nice restaurants, buying new clothes because the old ones are no longer stylish, vacationing at beach resorts - so much of our income is spent on things not essential to the preservation of our lives and health." (850)