David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
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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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