Chapter

Living High and Letting Die Reconsidered: On the Costs of a Morally Decent Life

Peter Unger

in Living High and Letting Die

Published in print October 1996 | ISBN: 9780195108590
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780199868261 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/0195108590.003.0006
Living High and Letting Die Reconsidered: On the Costs of a Morally Decent Life

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It is very costly, far more than is usually supposed, for well‐off people to lead a morally decent life in a world in which suffering may easily be prevented. The amount a person must contribute is determined not only by moral truths but also by nonmoral truths about her particular circumstances, financial situation and prospects, and number of dependants as well as truths about the things that a person easily can do in modern society efficiently to lessen serious suffering. These considerations complement a certain kind of reasoning that endorses highly demanding moral dictates. According to one principle of ethical integrity that grounds this reasoning, other things being nearly equal, if it is acceptable to impose some losses on others with the result that it will significantly lessen the serious losses suffered by others overall, then one cannot fail either to impose upon oneself or to accept lesser or equal losses when they have this result. For this reason, from a Liberationist perspective, the conduct of most well‐off Westerners falls far short of what morality requires.

Keywords: integrity; Liberationism; moral principle; moral truth; suffering

Chapter.  11131 words. 

Subjects: Moral Philosophy

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