The best place to begin doing moral philosophy is with examples of the kind of phenomenon that seems to need explaining. I remember one day, just before Christmas some years ago, walking through the streets of Stirling carrying two large hams I had bought as Christmas gifts from my family to my great aunts. It was extremely cold and wet, the hams – one under each arm– were very heavy and increasingly awkward to carry, and I had a long way to walk to the bus station. I remember struggling not to drop the hams as I walked, and getting mildly distressed as the task became harder and harder. What I remember most, however, was what happened next. A street sweeper, who was replacing the liners in the roadside bins, came up to me and remarked that it would be a lot easier to carry my hams in a couple of his new plastic bags, which he promptly offered me. I accepted this man’s offer, thanked him, and continued on my way with my two hams swung over my shoulder in his plastic bags. A feature of such events that we often pay too little attention to is this: that another person might help us without any other reason than that we are in need.
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