Ethics 101 (4):818-835 (1991)

Authors
Marilyn Friedman
Washington University in St. Louis
Abstract
This essay counteracts that trend [regarding the debate about whether partiality can be justified, those supporting impartiality have generally been on the offensive arguing that morality calls for impartiality] by taking a closer look at the moral complexity of our social practices of partiality. My adoption of this approach does not represent an endorsement of current notions of impartiality. The ideal of impartiality, in my view, should be substantially reformulated. However, that the concept of partiality is transparently defensible. In this discussion, I focus on the aspects of partiality that complicate the philosophical defense of it. In the first part of the discussion, I argue that the moral value of partiality depends partly on the moral value of the relationships it helps to sustain. It matters to the philosophical issues at stake that personal relationships can be abusive and oppressive. In Section II, I refer to the vastly unequal social distribution of the means for favoring loved ones. Because many people have inadequate resources for caring for their loved ones, our conventional relationship practices of partiality-practices by which we care only for our ``own''-can be disasterous for many people. This seriously complicates the defense of partiality. The paper ends with a discussion, in Section III, of ``global moral concern'' and the resistance which most partialists show to it.
Keywords impartiality  partiality  friedman
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DOI 10.1086/293345
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