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The Duty of Beneficence. Everyday Ethics What people say “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

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Presentation on theme: "The Duty of Beneficence. Everyday Ethics What people say “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”"— Presentation transcript:

1 The Duty of Beneficence

2 Everyday Ethics What people say “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

3 Me Family Friends Community Strangers far away Everyday Ethics What people really believe

4 Some facts: Over 10 million children die each year from easily preventable causes: disease, malnutrition, bad drinking water. 3 million die from dehydrating diarrhea. Treatment: a packet of oral rehydration salts. Cost: 15 cents each.

5 1 million die from measles One effective treatment, even for kids who haven’t been vaccinated: Vitamin A capsules. Cost: 10 cents each. 3.5 die from pneumonia Treatment: antibiotics Cost: 25 cents each.

6 For $17 per child, UNICEF can vaccinate a child against measles, polio, diptheria, whooping cough, tetanus, and tuberculosis.

7 But what does it really cost to save a life? The cost of giving a typically sick two-year-old child in the third world a 90% chance of living to be 21: $188 Source: Peter Unger, Living High and Letting Die (New York: Oxford University Press, 1996)

8 Two arguments that we have an extensive duty to help: 1. The Child in Front of Us and the Envelope 2. Singer’s Argument

9 The Child in Front of Us and the Envelope

10 1.It is wrong not to help the child in front of us. 2.There is no relevant difference between failing to help the child in front of us and failing to respond to the UNICEF plea. 3.Therefore, it is equally wrong not to respond to the UNICEF plea. The Child in Front of Us and the Envelope

11 Why the two cases seem different, even though they’re not: The big psychological impact of seeing the child in front of us, compared with the small psychological impact of the envelope The phenomenon of grouping The scattering effect The Child in Front of Us and the Envelope

12 1.If we could prevent something bad from happening, without sacrificing anything of comparable moral importance, then we ought, morally, to do so. 2.It is bad for children to die from malnutrition or from easily preventable diseases. 3.We could prevent at least some of those deaths without giving up anything of comparable moral importance. 4.Therefore we ought, morally, to do so. Singer’s Argument

13 Objection: Singer’s Argument demands too much. In particular, the first premise is too demanding. Singer’s reply: OK, I’ll change it.

14 1.If we could prevent something bad from happening, without sacrificing anything of comparable moral importance, then we ought, morally, to do so. 2.It is bad for children to die from malnutrition or from easily preventable diseases. 3.We could prevent at least some of those deaths without giving up anything of comparable moral importance. 4.Therefore we ought, morally, to do so.

15 1.If we could prevent something bad from happening, without sacrificing anything of comparable moral importance, then we ought, morally, to do so. 2.It is bad for children to die from malnutrition or from easily preventable diseases. 3.We could prevent at least some of those deaths without giving up anything of comparable moral importance. 4.Therefore we ought, morally, to do so.

16 1.If we could prevent something bad from happening, by sacrificing only luxuries that we don’t really need, then we ought, morally, to do so. 2.It is bad for children to die from malnutrition or from easily preventable diseases. 3.We could prevent at least some of those deaths without giving up anything of comparable moral importance. 4.Therefore we ought, morally, to do so.

17 1.If we could prevent something bad from happening, by sacrificing only luxuries that we don’t really need, then we ought, morally, to do so. 2.It is bad for children to die from malnutrition or from easily preventable diseases. 3.We could prevent at least some of those deaths without giving up anything of comparable moral importance. 4.Therefore we ought, morally, to do so.

18 1.If we could prevent something bad from happening, by sacrificing only luxuries that we don’t really need, then we ought, morally, to do so. 2.It is bad for children to die from malnutrition or from easily preventable diseases. 3.We could prevent at least some of those deaths by giving up new neckties, perfume, expensive wine, and so on. 4.Therefore we ought, morally, to do so.

19 1.If we could prevent something bad from happening, by sacrificing only luxuries that we don’t really need, then we ought, morally, to do so. 2.It is bad for children to die from malnutrition or from easily preventable diseases. 3.We could prevent at least some of those deaths by giving up new neckties, perfume, expensive wine, and so on. 4.Therefore we ought, morally, to do so.

20 The Six Most Common Responses to Singer’s Argument

21 The Six Most Common Responses #1 “Oh my goodness, children dying of starvation! That’s so terrible, I hate even to think about it! Let’s go have lunch.”

22 The Six Most Common Responses #2 “Why should we be so concerned with people in foreign countries, when there is so much need right here at home?”

23 The Six Most Common Responses #3 “Why me? Other people have a lot more money than I have.”

24 The Six Most Common Responses #4 “The government should take care of it.”

25 The Six Most Common Responses #5 “Those so-called relief agencies just waste our money...”

26 U.S. Committee for UNICEF United Nations Children’s Fund 333 East 38th Street New York, NY Oxfam America 26 West Street Boston, MA 02111

27 The Six Most Common Responses #6 “The real problem is over-population. Keeping people alive today just creates a greater problem for tomorrow.”

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