For the Sake of the Friendship: Relationality and Relationship as Grounds of Beneficence

Theoria 57 (4):54-76 (2010)
Abstract
I contend that there are important moral reasons for individuals, organisations and states to aid others that have gone largely unrecognised in the literature. Most of the acknowledged reasons for acting beneficently in the absence of a promise to do so are either impartial and intrinsic, on the one hand, being grounded in properties internal to and universal among individuals, such as their pleasure or autonomy, or partial and extrinsic, on the other, being grounded in non-universal properties regarding an actual relation to the agent, such as common membership in a family or culture. In contrast, I articulate and defend the existence of two unrecognised reasons for beneficence that can take the form of being impartial and extrinsic. One is that a being’s capacity to be part of a sharing relationship with us can provide some reason to help it, and another is that a sharing relationship qua relationship is an end-in-itself that can provide some reason to help another. I differentiate these considerations from one another and from the more standard reasons for beneficence, provide arguments for thinking that they are central to beneficence, and rebut objections that are likely to be offered by friends of the more standard reasons.
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