Moral Philosophy and Politics 6 (1):113-132 (2019)

Authors
Brian Berkey
University of Pennsylvania
Abstract
It has been suggested that understanding our obligations to address large-scale moral problems such as global poverty and the threat of severe climate change as fundamentally collective can allow us to insist that a great deal must be done about these problems while denying that there are very demanding obligations, applying to either individuals or collectives, to contribute to addressing them. I argue that this strategy for limiting demandingness fails because those who endorse collective obligations to address large-scale moral problems have no grounds for denying that the relevant collectives are obligated to do what is impartially best. Specifically, I argue that appeals to the claim that collective obligations to do what is impartially best would be objectionably demanding cannot succeed, for two reasons. The first is that demandingness complaints cannot be aggregated across the individual members of a collective. And the second is that demandingness complaints cannot plausibly be asserted on behalf of collectives themselves. I conclude by suggesting some reasons to think that collective obligations to address large-scale problems will tend to imply demanding individual obligations.
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DOI 10.1515/mopp-2018-0059
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The Philosophical Core of Effective Altruism.Brian Berkey - forthcoming - Journal of Social Philosophy.

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