The Limits of Beneficence. On the Demandingness of an Individual's Duty to Aid the Poor
MetadataShow full item record
The central question of this thesis is to what extent affluent individuals ought to help the global poor. In hope of answering this question, I will turn to three approaches to ethics: consequentialism, Kantianism and Williams’ a-theoretical approach. However, I will argue that none of these approaches can answer the question satisfactorily. Consequentialism tells us that our duty is extremely demanding, but fails to provide convincing arguments for this claim. Kantianism is unable to tell us whether to assign more weight to impartial demands or to personal demands. And while the a-theoretical approach leads to an upper limit on our duty to aid, this limit is very imprecise and it is uncertain whether we should accept Williams’ arguments for it. The three approaches do tell us what the lower limit on our duty to aid is. If we are to live a morally decent life, we are required to give some aid to the poor, even if it takes a little sacrifice. While this is an important find, it leaves us with a lot of uncertainty about the demandingness of our duty to aid. The fact that there is so much uncertainty about a topic that is so significant, renders it important to ask questions about the reason why we do not have clear answers. I will argue that this reason may be found in our human nature.