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Teaching Ethics

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published on March 25, 2016

Judith Lichtenberg

Who’s Responsible For Global Poverty?

This paper has two aims. The first is to describe several sources of the moral responsibility to remedy or alleviate global poverty. The second is to consider what sorts of agents bear the responsibilities associated with each source—in particular, whether they are collective agents like states or societies or individual human beings. We often talk about our responsibilities to poor people, or what we owe them. So the question is who this we is. I argue that the answer depends on the source of the responsibility. Some responsibilitiesbelong in the first instance to collectives, although they will also trickle down to at least some individuals within the collective. Other responsibilities belong in the first instance to individuals, but can, I argue, “trickle up” to collectives of which individuals are members.

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