Illusions of Innocence: An Introduction

Peter Unger

in Living High and Letting Die

Published in print October 1996 | ISBN: 9780195108590
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780199868261 | DOI:
Illusions of Innocence: An Introduction

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Given the facility with which wealthy Western nations can reduce child mortality rates in developing countries, we should reject the view that it is not wrong to do nothing to lessen distant suffering as this view strongly conflicts with the truth about morality. This is the minority position known as Liberationism, first espoused by Peter Singer, according to which moral intuitions derive from sources far removed from basic moral values. Thus, moral intuitions (of the sort that it is acceptable not to alleviate distant suffering) not only fail to reflect those values but also often point in the opposite direction. This position contrasts with the majority view known as Preservationism, according to which our moral intuitions about particular cases reflect our basic moral values, and thus ground the claim that it is permissible not to lessen distant suffering. This chapter concludes with a brief discussion of some ethical puzzles that make the Liberationist approach more intuitively appealing.

Keywords: Liberationism; moral intuition; morality; Preservationism; Peter Singer; suffering; value; wrong

Chapter.  9608 words. 

Subjects: Moral Philosophy

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