Deontic Reasons and Distant Need

A shocking number of people worldwide currently suffer from malnutrition, disease, violence, and poverty. Their difficult lives evidence the intractability and pervasiveness of global need. In this paper I draw on recent developments in metaethical and normative theory to reframe one aspect of the conversation regarding whether moral agents are required to respond to the needs of distant strangers. In contrast with recent treatments of the issue of global poverty, as found in the work of Peter Singer (1972 and 2002), who employs a broadly consequentialist framework focusing on suffering, and Thomas Pogge (2002), who inventively reframes the issue in terms of a negative duty not to harm, I explore this issue through an alternative approach: a social view of deontic moral reasons that features the idea of relational normativity. I address whether moral agents must respond to needy others by considering how the needs of distant strangers make implicit claims on those able to help them. Ultimately, I demonstrate why indifference in the face of global need is morally unacceptable, hence supporting the idea of an obligation that requires response to others' basic needs.



Work Title Deontic Reasons and Distant Need
Open Access
  1. Sarah Clark Miller
  1. ethics
  2. morality
  3. deontology
  4. global poverty
  5. needs
License All rights reserved
Work Type Article
Publisher Identifier (DOI)
  1. 10.5840/swphilreview200824121
Deposited October 15, 2019




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