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Few people doubt that severe poverty is a pressing moral issue. But what sorts of obligations, if any, do affluent people have toward the severely poor? If one accepts the idea that one has some obligations to the severely poor there still remains disagreement about the magnitude of this obligation and when it obtains. I consider Peter Singer's influential “shallow pond” argument, which holds that affluent people have greater obligations toward the severely poor than ordinary moral judgments suggest. Critics hold that Singer's view is excessively demanding and therefore untenable. I thus turn to the parable of the Good Samaritan and Christian accounts of neighbor‐love to help attenuate this criticism. Drawing from Christian conversations on neighbor‐love, I attempt to demonstrate that accepting an obligation to assist does not necessarily result in one abandoning one's special relations, abnegating self‐regard, or no longer pursuing other non‐moral strivings.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Religious Studies at Indiana University

Publication date: 2012-12-01

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