Sympathy pp 1-6 | Cite as


  • Craig Taylor
Part of the Swansea Studies in Philosophy book series


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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© Craig Taylor 2002

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  • Craig Taylor

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