New York: Oxford University Press (forthcoming)

Theron Pummer
University of St. Andrews
This is a book about duties to help others. When do you have to sacrifice life and limb, time and money, to prevent harm to others? When must you save more people rather than fewer? These questions arise in emergencies involving nearby strangers who are drowning or trapped in burning buildings. But they also arise in our everyday lives, in which we have constant opportunities to give time or money to help distant strangers in need of food, shelter, or medical care. With the resources available to you, you can provide more help or less. This book argues that it is often wrong to provide less help rather than more, even when the personal sacrifice involved makes it permissible not to help at all. It shows that helping distant strangers by donating or volunteering is morally more like rescuing nearby strangers than most of us realize. The ubiquity of opportunities to help others threatens to make morality extremely demanding, and the book argues that it is only thanks to adequate permissions grounded in considerations of cost and autonomy that we may pursue our own plans and projects. It concludes that many of us are required to provide no less help over our lives than we would have done if we were effective altruists.
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