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John A Weymark
''Must One Be an Ogre to Rationally Prefer Aiding the Nearby to the Distant Needy?''
Caspar Hare ["Rationality and the Distant Needy," Philosophy & Public Affairs 35 (2007): 161-78] has offered two distinct, but related, arguments whose purpose is to show that anyone in a position to help someone in great need at little personal cost who is minimally decent must violate one or more of the conditions that characterize a rational preference if he conditions assistance on the beneficiary being nearby. In this paper, it is shown that Hare's arguments for this conclusion have limited scope; they are only valid if the nearby and distant needy are the same person. Therefore, he has not established his conclusion for the more morally problematic case in which they are different. Moreover, even if the two beneficiaries are the same person, Hare's arguments only apply in very special circumstances or if distance is interpreted temporally.
Keywords: duties of assistance, formal ethics, Sacrifice Principle, Caspar Hare, Peter Singer
JEL: D6 - Welfare Economics: General
Manuscript Received : Nov 16 2013 Manuscript Accepted : Nov 26 2013

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