Drowning the Shallow Pond Analogy: A Critique of Garrett Cullity's Attempt to Rescue It

Abstract

Garrett Cullity concedes that saving a drowning child from a shallow pond at little cost to oneself is not actually analogous to giving money to a poverty relief organization like Oxfam. The question then arises whether this objection is fatal to Peters Singer's argument for a duty of assistance or whether it can be saved anyway. Cullity argues that not saving the drowning child and not giving money to organizations like Oxfam are still morally analogous, that is, not giving money to organizations like Oxfam is morally nearly as bad as letting the child drown. I argue that Cullity's two arguments for this conclusion, an argument from "transitivity" and an argument from collective responsibility, fail.

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Uwe Steinhoff
University of Hong Kong

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