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Ethical Theory and Moral Practice

, Volume 7, Issue 3, pp 293–307 | Cite as

Foreign Aid and the Moral Value of Freedom

  • Martin Peterson
Article

Abstract

Peter Singer has famously argued that people living in affluent western countries are morally obligated to donate money to famine relief. The central premise in his argument is that, “If it is in our power to prevent something bad from happening, without thereby sacrificing anything of comparable moral importance, we ought, morally, to do so.” The present paper offers an argument to the effect that affluent people ought to support foreign aid projects based on a much weaker ethical premise. The new premise states that, “If it is in our power to prevent something bad from happening, without thereby sacrificing anything of moral importance, we ought, morally, to do so.” This premise, supplemented with a notion of final value drawing on Amartya Sen's concept of freedom as capabilities and functionings, is conceived as a special version of a weak, egalitarian Pareto principle.

ethics famine relief final value foreign aid Pareto principle Sen Singer 

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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • Martin Peterson
    • 1
  1. 1.Royal Institute of Technology, Philosophy UnitStockholmSweden

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