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Social Theory and Practice

Volume 40, Issue 4, October 2014

Christian Barry, Gerhard Øverland
Pages 570-590
DOI: 10.5840/soctheorpract201440434

The Implications of Failing to Assist

In this essay we argue that an agent’s failure to assist someone in need at one time can change the cost she can be morally required to take on to assist that same person at a later time. In particular, we show that the cost the agent can subsequently be required to take on to help the person in need can increase quite significantly, and can be enforced through the proportionate use of force. We explore the implications of this argument for the duties of the affluent to address global poverty.