How Much for the Child?
- 459 Downloads
In this paper we explore what sacrifices you are morally required to make to save a child who is about to die in front of you. It has been argued that you would have very demanding duties to save such a child (or any adult who is in similar circumstance through no fault of their own, for that matter), and some examples have been presented to make this claim seem intuitively correct. Against this, we argue that you do not in general have a moral requirement to bear more than moderate cost to save even a child who is just in front of you. Moreover, we explain why you have a much more demanding moral requirement in certain cases by appealing to the notions of undue risk and cost sharing.
KeywordsDuties of assistance Global poverty Peter Singer
An earlier version of this article was presented as seminars at the Australian National University and Charles Sturt University. We are grateful for comments received from audiences on those occasions, and especially to Stephanie Collins, Bashshar Haydar, Holly Lawford-Smith, Seth Lazar, Alejandra Mancilla, Leif Wenar, Luara Ferracioli and Ole Koksvik for written comments on earlier drafts. This article is part of a larger project on responsibilities to address poverty that has received financial support from the Australian Research Council and the Research Council of Norway.
- Chappell TD (2009) The moral problem of demandingness. Palgrave, BasingstokeGoogle Scholar
- Food and Agriculture Organization (2009) 1.02 billion people hungry. Malnutrition. News release, 19 June 2009, www.fao.org/news/story/0/item/20568/icode/en. Accessed 6 October 2010
- International Energy Agency (2011) World energy outlook: access to energy. Electricity 2008. www.iea.org/weo/electricity.asp. Accessed 7 September, 2011
- Murphy L (2000) Moral demands in nonideal theory. Oxford University Press, OxfordGoogle Scholar
- Scanlon T (1998) What we owe to each other. Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
- Scheffler S (1982) The rejection of consequentialism. Oxford University Press, OxfordGoogle Scholar
- Schmidtz D (2000) Islands in a sea of obligation. Law Philos 19:683–705Google Scholar
- Singer P (1972) Famine, affluence, and morality. Philos Public Aff 1:229–243Google Scholar
- Singer P (1993) Practical ethics. Cambridge University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
- Singer P (2007) Global poverty, how demanding are our obligations? Lecture at The Massachusetts Institute of Technology, September 21, 2007. http://mitworld.mit.edu/video/487
- Singer P (2009) The life you can save. Text Publishing, MelbourneGoogle Scholar
- United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) (2006) Child labour, http://www.unicef.org/protection/files/Child_Labour.pdf. Accessed 7 September, 2011
- World Health Organization and UNICEF (2010) Progress on sanitation and drinking water: 2010 update. Water and Sanitation. WHO, Geneva, pp. 6–7, www.who.int/water_sanitation_health/publications/9789241563956/en/index.html. Accessed 7 September, 2011.