World Poverty and the Duty to Aid

  • Johan Graafland
  • Mandy Bosma


Currently, many countries are reducing their contribution to development aid as a consequence of the economic crisis and the need for limiting government budget deficits. In the Netherlands, some political parties have proposed to abolish or substantially reduce the budget for development aid. In this paper, we analyse whether a case can be made in favour of a moral duty for the developed countries to alleviate poverty in the low developing countries (LDCs) through providing development aid. We will evaluate whether there is a duty to provide aid from the perspective of several liberal ethical positions: utilitarianism, negative rights ethics, duty ethics and basic rights ethics. In this way, we will be able to establish how robust the moral duty for development aid is. We conclude that we find that the moral duty to aid is quite robust if development aid can effectively reduce poverty. If development aid is not effective, most theories imply that rich countries do not have a duty to aid developing countries, but rather should reform the existing global institutional order to diminish perverse incentives.


Rich Country Moral Duty Debt Relief Positive Duty Duty Ethic 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Economics/Department of PhilosophyTilburg UniversityTilburgThe Netherlands
  2. 2.Department of PhilosophyTilburg UniversityTilburgThe Netherlands

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