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Help and beneficence

DOI: 10.4324/9780415249126-L035-2
Version: v2,  Published online: 2020
Retrieved July 15, 2024, from

Article Summary

Which people are we morally required to help, and to what extent? In a world where the basic needs of many millions remain unmet, this is a philosophical question of great practical urgency. A minimal position is that while it is always praiseworthy to help someone, we are morally required to help only those to whom we stand in some special relation. In addition to the objection that it is too minimal, this view faces difficulties in accounting for emergency cases, in which one could, for example, save a stranger’s life at little cost to oneself. More stringent views that place no restrictions on the range of people to be helped do not have these difficulties; they do, however, raise the intractable problem of how much we must sacrifice for the sake of others.

Citing this article:
Murphy, Liam B.. Help and beneficence, 2020, doi:10.4324/9780415249126-L035-2. Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Taylor and Francis,
Copyright © 1998-2024 Routledge.

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