Why some defenders of positive duties serve a bad theoretical cocktail

Journal of Global Ethics 17 (3):323-339 (2021)
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Abstract

In the literature on global justice, there has been a lengthy debate about what the world’s rich owe to the world’s poor. Some have argued that rich individuals have positive duties of beneficence to help the poor, while others have argued that rich individuals only have negative duties not to harm them. A common objection to the former view is that once it is accepted that positive duties exist, fulfilling these duties will be overdemanding since rich individuals can almost always help a little more. Some have tried to overcome this overdemandingness objection by setting cut-off points for how demanding morality is. In this article, we aim to show that it is problematic to be committed to the following propositions: (1) Positive duties to aid exist; (2) The overdemandingness objection is a serious challenge for anyone who accepts that positive duties to aid exist; and (3) Setting cut-off points for how demanding morality is constitutes a plausible way to overcome the overdemandingness objection. Showing that a commitment to (1), (2) and (3) is problematic is of interest given that several influential theorists are committed to this set of views. This set of views is simply a bad theoretical cocktail.

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Author Profiles

Jakob Mainz
Aalborg University (PhD)
Jørn Sønderholm
Aalborg University

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References found in this work

Anarchy, State, and Utopia.Robert Nozick - 1974 - New York: Basic Books.
Famine, Affluence, and Morality.Peter Singer - 1972 - Oxford University Press USA.
Anarchy, State, and Utopia.Robert Nozick - 1974 - Philosophy 52 (199):102-105.

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