Good samaritans, good humanitarians

Journal of Applied Philosophy 24 (3):238–254 (2007)
Duties of beneficence are not well understood. Peter Singer has argued that the scope of beneficence should not be restricted to those who are, in some sense, near us. According to Singer, refusing to contribute to humanitarian relief efforts is just as wrong as refusing to rescue a child drowning before you. Most people do not seem convinced by Singer’s arguments, yet no one has offered a plausible justification for restricting the scope of beneficence that doesn’t produce counterintuitive results elsewhere. I offer a defence of this restricted scope by introducing the notion of unique dependence, a notion that is both intuitively attractive and theoretically grounded. It explains why your reason to rescue the drowning child is more stringent than your reason to contribute to humanitarian relief, while blocking the conclusion that we have no reason at all to aid distant sufferers .
Keywords beneficence  Peter Singer  Kant
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DOI 10.1111/j.1468-5930.2007.00378.x
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References found in this work BETA
Peter Singer (1972). Famine, Affluence, and Morality. Philosophy and Public Affairs 1 (3):229-243.
Susan Wolf (1982). Moral Saints. Journal of Philosophy 79 (8):419-439.
Stephen Darwall (2004). Respect and the Second-Person Standpoint. Proceedings and Addresses of the American Philosophical Association 78 (2):43 - 59.

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