Aggregation, Partiality, and the Strong Beneficence Principle

Philosophical Studies 146 (1):139 - 157 (2009)
Consider the Strong Beneficence Principle (SBP): Persons of affluent means ought to give to those who might fail basic human subsistence until the point at which they must give up something of comparable moral importance. This principle has been the subject of much recent discussion. In this paper, I argue that no coherent interpretation of SBP can be found. SBP faces an interpretive trilemma, each horn of which should be unacceptable to fans of SBP; SBP is either (a) so strong as to be patently absurd; (b) implausible given its acceptance of a form of numbers skepticism; (c) drained of all its demanding force. In the conclusion, I show how the problems with SBP generalize to all similarly demanding principles of beneficence
Keywords Beneficence  Peter Singer  Aggregation  Partiality
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