David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
Learn more about PhilPapers
Utilitas 21 (03):368- (2009)
AS MANY OF us know, millions of people on this planet are suffering for lack of potable water, basic healthcare, and adequate nutrition. And, as many of us also know, we (the well‐to‐do) could alleviate and/or prevent some of this suffering by making certain sacrifices, e.g., by donating some of our incomes to organizations such as Oxfam and UNICEF. Suppose, then, that we are wondering to what extent each of us is morally obligated to make sacrifices for the sake of helping to alleviate such suffering. Could the answer to this question depend on the existence of beings on some distant planet, call it Zargon, over which we have not had, and will never have, any influence? Suppose that there is nothing that we can do to affect the lives of Zargonians in any way. We can neither harm nor benefit them; we cannot even have the slightest effect on their thoughts or experiences, for their planet is billions of light years away from ours and, consequently, far beyond the reach of our causal powers. We know about them only through the supernatural abilities of an oracle, who we know always tells the truth and who tells us everything about them.1 But although we know about them, they do not know about us, for we have no way to communicate with them, let alone affect their welfares. Given that we can have no effect on their lives and that they can have no effect on our lives beyond whatever little effect our knowledge of their doings has on us, how could their existence possibly affect how much one of us is required to sacrifice for the sake of alleviating some of the suffering here on Earth? It seems absurd to suppose that it could. Yet this is precisely what rule‐
|Keywords||No keywords specified (fix it)|
|Categories||categorize this paper)|
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
|Through your library|
References found in this work BETA
No references found.
Citations of this work BETA
Leonard Kahn (2012). Rule Consequentialism and Scope. Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 15 (5):631-646.
Damian Okaibedi Eke, Bernd Carsten Stahl & Christine Fidler (2015). Understanding the Relevance of Ethics Reviews of ICT Research in UK Computing Departments Using Dialectical Hermeneutics. Journal of Information, Communication and Ethics in Society 13 (1):28-38.
Similar books and articles
Sanford S. Levy (1987). Paul Ramsey and the Rule of Double Effect. Journal of Religious Ethics 15 (1):59 - 71.
Peter Allmark, Mark Cobb, B. Jane Liddle & Angela Mary Tod (2010). Is the Doctrine of Double Effect Irrelevant in End-of-Life Decision Making? Nursing Philosophy 11 (3):170-177.
Hugh LaFollette (2003). World Hunger. In R. G. Frey & Christopher Heath Wellman (eds.), Blackwell Companion to Applied Ethics. Blackwell
Peter Nilsson (2011). On the Suffering of Compassion. Philosophia 39 (1):125-144.
Luc Boltanski (1999). Distant Suffering: Morality, Media, and Politics. Cambridge University Press.
Elizabeth Harman (2004). Can We Harm and Benefit in Creating? Philosophical Perspectives 18 (1):89–113.
Robert Guay (2005). A Refutation of Consequentialism. Metaphilosophy 36 (3):348-362.
Jussi Suikkanen (2008). A Dilemma for Rule-Consequentialism. Philosophia 36 (1):141-150.
Charles Goodman (2008). Consequentialism, Agent-Neutrality, and Mahāyāna Ethics. Philosophy East and West 58 (1):17-35.
Added to index2009-01-28
Total downloads44 ( #77,024 of 1,726,249 )
Recent downloads (6 months)9 ( #74,830 of 1,726,249 )
How can I increase my downloads?