Being Good in a World of Need

ISBN : 9780192849977

Larry S. Temkin
432 Pages
153 x 234 mm
Pub date
Jan 2022
Uehiro Series in Practical Ethics
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In a world filled with both enormous wealth and pockets of great devastation, how should the well-off respond to the world's needy? This is the urgent central question of Being Good in a World of Need. Larry S. Temkin, one of the world's foremost ethicists, challenges common assumptions about philanthropy, his own prior beliefs, and the dominant philosophical positions of Peter Singer and Effective Altruism. Filled with keen analysis and insightful discussions of philosophy, current events, development economics, history, literature, and age-old wisdom, this book is a thorough and sobering exploration of the complicated ways that global aid may incentivize disastrous policies, reward corruption, and foster "brain drains" that hinder social and economic development. Using real-world examples and illuminating thought experiments, Temkin discusses ethical imperialism, humanitarian versus developmental aid, how charities ignore or coverup negative impacts, replicability and scaling-up problems, and the views of the renowned economists Angus Deaton and Jeffrey Sachs, all within the context of deeper philosophical issues of fairness, responsibility, and individual versus collective morality. At times both inspiring and profoundly disturbing, he presents the powerful argument that neglecting the needy is morally impermissible, even as he illustrates that the path towards helping others is often fraught with complex ethical and practical perils. Steeped in empathy, morality, pathos, and humanity, this is an engaging and eye-opening text for any reader who shares an intense concern for helping others in need.


1 Introduction
2 Global Need: My Longtime Commitment and Earlier Views
3 Singer's Pond Example and Some Worries about Effective Altruism
4 Direct versus Indirect Aid
5 The Dark Side of Humanity, Part I--Worries about Internal Corruption
6 The Dark Side of Humanity, Part II--Worries about External Corruption
7 The Dark Side of Humanity, Part III--Where Evil Walks
8 Marketplace Distortions and Human Capital
9 Model Projects and the Difficulty of Predicting Future Success
10 Ethical Imperialism: Some Worries about Paternalism, Autonomy, and Respect
11 On the Relation between Aid, Governance, and Human Flourishing: Deaton's Worry
12 Individual versus Collective Rationality and Morality: A Troubling Possibility
13 Further Objections to Deaton's Worry and Some Responses
14 Responsibility and Fairness: Further Support for a Pluralistic Approach to Global Aid
15 Taking Stock, Clarifications, and Further Thoughts
16 Conclusion
Appendix A: How Expected Utility Theory Can Drive Us Off the Rails
Appendix B: On the Irrelevance of Proximity or Distance for Morality

About the author: 

Larry S. Temkin is Distinguished Professor of Philosophy at Rutgers. He graduated number one from the University of Wisconsin/Madison before pursuing graduate work at Oxford and earning his PhD from Princeton. He is the author of Inequality, hailed as one of the [20th century's] most important contributions to analytical political philosophy and of Rethinking the Good, described as a tour de force and a genuinely awe-inspiring achievement. Temkin's approach to equality has been adopted by the World Health Organization. An award-winning teacher, he has received fellowships from Harvard, All Souls College and Corpus Christi College at Oxford, the National Institutes of Health, the Australian National University, the National Humanities Center, the Danforth Foundation, and Princeton.

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