Volume 1, 2007
Harry van der Linden
Is Global Poverty a Moral Problem for Citizens of Affluent Societies?
The gap between the affluent and the global poor has increased during the past few decades, whether it is measured in terms of private consumption, income, or wealth. One would expect that severe poverty in a world of abundance would constitute a moral challenge to the affluent, but in fact it hardly seems a serious ethical concern. Affluent citizens seem so little morally concerned with global poverty.
However, the most promising approach seems to be to explore and divulge factually and conceptually the numerous ways in which the affluent are implicated in a wholly unjust world of growing inequality. Changing people's moral perception is an arduous task and it is to be expected that affluent people will only gradually come to morally question their comfortable lives, at least in the absence of environmental or political disasters that might occur in the future. The immense human suffering at stake makes it a duty for moral philosophers to continue to work at and even increase their efforts towards this task.