Ending Preventable Suffering: Ethics and Social Change

  • Ronald E. AndersonEmail author
Part of the SpringerBriefs in Well-Being and Quality of Life Research book series (BRIEFSWELLBEING)


Working toward ending needless suffering is both a personal value and a public good. It offers hope to those who suffer now or will in the future; it supports those who devote themselves to humanitarian work or otherwise empathize with sufferers. After reviewing ethical theories, it becomes clear that multiple theories are needed to apply the principle of moral responsibility to relieve suffering. Then, strategies are summarized for the relief of suffering through individual and collective action. A classification of personal humanitarian action using the concept of compassionate caring is visually displayed, and recommendations made for incorporating the relief of suffering more fully into social policy for welfare and development programs. Suggestions are offered for ongoing research on the quality of life integrating it with the concept of suffering. The chapter concludes with a summary of several contentious issues likely to underscore future controversies involving suffering and its relief, e.g., suffering versus obligation to sustain life, protection from addiction, and suffering relief versus economic relief. A successful future, in large part, depends upon global institutions’ success in recognizing and containing demographic and environmental crises in order to prevent massive rises in future human suffering.


AidAid Care ethics  Care gaps Caring  Distant Suffering Ethics  Needless suffering  Other-oriented  Otherish Preventable suffering  Welfare policyWelfare policy 


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of MinnesotaWayzataUSA

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