Obligation to others: Singer and Cottingham

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When making decisions that affect others, should it matter what relationship they have to us? 

What, exactly, do we owe to others who need our help?

Famine, Affluence and Morality: Singer= impartialist


If it is in our power to prevent something bad from happening then we ought to do it AS LONG as it doesnt casue us to sacrifice other things that are morally important to us. 

    • The proximity of the situation should not be taken into account: No matter how close or far the person is that needs the help we still need to morally act on the action that would cause us to help them.
        • Person who is closer to us then we have a better idea of how to help that person in need YET you should not make a clear distinction between them 
    • There is no distinction between if there is only one individual and if there are many people who could help the individual in need: 
        • Numbers lessen obligation yet if one was to give $5 each to a cause and by doing so one would cause the same extent of grief on oneself as those that they are trying to help. Also if everyone gave the $5 then there could be an excess left over hence the sacrifice of the person would have been in vain.
          • Hence it is better to do less than you ought to do becasue it would produce better consequences

Supererogatory: an act which it would be good to do, but it isnt wrong if you dont perform that act as well. An act which goes beyond the call of duty ( the good samaritian)

Objections to this argument

1) the stance that is taken is too great a change on the moral scheme that the community normally would take, the way that Singer judges is not followed by individuals as many dont judge individuals who live in luxery instead of giving to the needy.Its a CHOICE

    • But why does the society judge differently?? J.O Urmson states that duty differs to those choices that would be good to take (giving to the needy) if society is to survive.
    • Where should the line be drawn between a conduct that is required and that of which is good if it is preformed? 

2) We should be working to increase happiness and not misery: we ought to be preventing as much suffering as we can without sacrificing something…


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