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Kari Radko November 11, 2010 Phil 101 Section Orphans in Africa due to AIDS AIDS is defined as acquired

immune deficiency syndrome, and is most commonly linked with HIV, human immunodeficiency virus, because HIV causes AIDS. When one has contracted AIDS, ones immune system is weakened and the body can no longer fight off other diseases, which in turn is fatal. This disease is spread three different ways: having sex with one who is already infected, sharing a needle with one who is already infected, or being born with a mother who is already infected (aids.org). As one can tell, AIDS can be easily spread and is very deadly if one is not careful.

AIDS is thought to have originated in Africa, but no one is for certain (fohn.net). It was first seen in the United States in 1981, and is now seen as a global epidemic (fohn.net). However, Africa is where AIDS is at its worst. And the ones who are hurt the most by AIDS are the children who become orphans due to how easily spread this deadly disease is. This epidemic is known as the silent crisis, and its name does it justice (Fleshman 1). To the tragedy of the 17 million people who have lost their lives to AIDS in Africa, add the 12 million orphaned children left behind. Traumatized by the death of parents, stigmatized through association with the disease and often thrown into desperate poverty by the loss of bread-winners, this growing army of orphans -- defined as children who have lost one or both parents -- is straining the traditional extended family and overwhelming national health and education systems in the most severely affected countries (1).

When a child is orphaned in Africa, they are forced to provide for themselves and siblings, if they have them. This means food, shelter, education, and protection all fall on the shoulders of a child. Some of the worlds poorest families come from Africa, so these needs are already hard to come by. There are several organizations out to help these orphaned children in Africa, such as UNICEF, Family Health International (FHI), National Orphan Programme, and Bobirwa Orphan Trust (avert.org), that are spreading awareness throughout Africa and helping those children who are orphaned from AIDS. Some of these organizations help children keep and maintain their parents land, provide food and protection, and most importantly provide an education. Although there is no cure for AIDS, these organizations have yet to give up on those affected by this disease, young and old. Researchers and scientists are still striving to find a cure for HIV/AIDS. But until then, all America and other countries around the world can do is help those affected by AIDS and continue to educate younger generations, so that they may find a way to stop this deadly disease. In philosophy, ethics is defined as the study of our values and moral principles and how these relate to our conduct and to our social institutions (Velasquez 14). Immanuel Kant, a famous philosopher, studied this logic and came up with several of his own theories. Kant was born in Konigsberg, Russia, where he spent his life studying science, challenging fellow philosophers, and creating his own theories (Velasquez 429-430). Some of these theories include: the constructivist theory (we constructed the world, therefore we hold its reality), the human rights theory (each individual holds value or dignity that others ought to respect), the transcendental idealism theory (the view what the form of our knowledge of reality derives from reason but its content comes from our senses), and the categorical imperative theory (to

have good will, one must choose to act on the basis of those reasons you believe everyone ought to live up to) (Velasquez 344, 350, 595, ). Kants main focus was the categorical imperative theory, the ability to decide for oneself and the moral laws one will follow. An individuals morality is their ability to decide what is right and wrong or good and bad. This theory ties into the orphans in Africa in a couple different ways. The most obvious way is all the organizations and volunteers helping those suffering from AIDS. Their morality is one of good will. They are going out of their way, to another country, to support those affected by this deadly disease. These organizations and volunteers had the option to ignore this epidemic in Africa and aid only in their own country, but they chose to help where it is most needed. Personally, I fully support these organizations and volunteers, and if I had the opportunity, I would do the same thing. Therefore, I like to think we share the same moral laws and good will.

On the other hand, others may disagree with my view of what I believe good will to be. United States rather than in Africa, even though the epidemic is worse in Africa. Or they may think that because AIDS originated in Africa, it is Africas problem and the United States should not feel obligated to help. Either way, Kants theory ties in very well with this global issue and it can be seen from both angles. Another theory of Kants that ties into the orphans in Africa due to AIDS is the human rights theory. Kant claimed we each have a duty to respect every other persons freedom, as well as to help others achieve their happiness (595). As I mentioned before, those who disagree with the organizations helping in Africa do not share the same moral laws as those who agree, like me. Even though they may disagree, Kants human rights theory states that we all ought to

respect one anothers decisions and our freedom to think what we want and form our own opinions.

In conclusion, Immanuel Kant has several theories on ethics, and many of them tie into the global issue of orphans in Africa due to AIDS. Even without Kants theories, this global issue is directly related to ones ethics. Africa is a poor country and it needs all the help it can get with this AIDS epidemic. The choice of helping them or not is linked to ones autonomy of the will and whether one chooses to help the orphans in Africa by getting involved with the organizations. Sometime in the near future I hope to travel to Africa and experience this epidemic for myself. That way I can construct my own opinions and share with others how severe this global issue is.

http://www.aids.org/topics/aids-factsheets/aids-background-information/what-is-aids/ Fleshman, Michael. http://www.un.org/ecosocdev/geninfo/afrec/vol15no3/153child.htm http://fohn.net/history-of-aids/ Velasquez, Manuel. Philosophy: A Text With Readings.