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Trivial Sacrifices, Great Demands

In: Journal of Moral Philosophy
Author:
William Sin General Education Office, The Hong Kong Institute of Education, Tai Po, New Territories, Hong Kong;, Email: wwlsin@ied.edu.hk

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Abstract

Suppose that people in the affluent countries can easily save the lives of the starving needy in poor countries. Then, three points seem to follow. First, it is wrong for these people not to make the easy rescue (The Principle of Easy Rescue). Second, it is wrong to stop making the easy rescue even if they have made many rescues already (The Inexhaustible Nature of Positive Duties). Third, if we accept the first two points, the demands of morality are super-extreme. That is, people have to keep making trivial sacrifices until there is no more trivial sacrifices to make (The Super-Extreme Nature of Moral Demands). Here, predictably, our commonsense will resist the third point. However, I argue in this paper that, since the first two points are harder to refute, we have to accept the third point anyway.

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