Southwest Philosophy Review 24 (1):61-70 (2008)

Sarah Miller
Pennsylvania State University
A shocking number of people worldwide currently suffer from malnutrition, disease, violence, and poverty. Their difficult lives evidence the intractability and pervasiveness of global need. In this paper I draw on recent developments in metaethical and normative theory to reframe one aspect of the conversation regarding whether moral agents are required to respond to the needs of distant strangers. In contrast with recent treatments of the issue of global poverty, as found in the work of Peter Singer (1972 and 2002), who employs a broadly consequentialist framework focusing on suffering, and Thomas Pogge (2002), who inventively reframes the issue in terms of a negative duty not to harm, I explore this issue through an alternative approach: a social view of deontic moral reasons that features the idea of relational normativity. I address whether moral agents must respond to needy others by considering how the needs of distant strangers make implicit claims on those able to help them. Ultimately, I demonstrate why indifference in the face of global need is morally unacceptable, hence supporting the idea of an obligation that requires response to others’ basic needs.
Keywords Moral Philosophy  Ethics  Global Justice  Need
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ISBN(s) 0897-2346
DOI 10.5840/swphilreview200824121
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References found in this work BETA

Famine, Affluence, and Morality.Peter Singer - 1972 - Philosophy and Public Affairs 1 (3):229-243.
Two Kinds of Respect.Stephen Darwall - 1977 - Ethics 88 (1):36-49.
World Poverty and Human Rights.Thomas Pogge - 2002 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 6 (4):455-458.

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