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Arguing for assistance-based responsibilities: are intuitions enough?

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)24 - 32
JournalEthics and Global Politics
Issue number1
Early online date6 Mar 2019
Accepted/In press21 Dec 2018
E-pub ahead of print6 Mar 2019
PublishedMar 2019

Bibliographical note

copyright 2019 The Author

King's Authors


Millions of people in our world are in need of assistance: from the global poor, to refugees, from the victims of natural disasters, to those of violent crimes. What are our responsibilities towards them? Christian Barry and Gerhard Øverland?s answer is plausible and straightforward: we have enforceable duties to assist others in need whenever we can do so ?at relatively moderate cost to ourselves, and others?. Barry and Øverland defend this answer on the ground that it best fits our intuitions in a variety of hypothetical rescue scenarios. I argue that, although Barry and Øverland?s view is intuitively appealing, appeal to intuitive cases is insufficient to vindicate it satisfactorily. Intuitive cases alone do not allow us to establish: (i) what costs count as moderate and (ii) whether assistance-based responsibilities are, in fact, enforceable. These considerations suggest that Barry and Øverland?s defence of their preferred answer to the assistance question may be incomplete.

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