Tuesday, January 8, 2013

[PHI 2200] Do your town's poor come first?

In this post on The Stone, Stephen Asma argues against one of Peter Singer's main theses in The Expanding Circle, namely, that we should have an equal and impartial concern for all human beings.

Asma's main reasons for rejecting Singer's thesis seem to be the following:
  1. "For many of us, family members are more entitled than friends, and friends more entitled than acquaintances, and acquaintances more than strangers, and so on."
  2. "Our actual lives are punctuated by moral gravity, which makes some people (kith and kin) much more central and forceful in our daily orbit of values."
Are (1) and (2) descriptive or prescriptive claims? If they are descriptive claims, how can they undermine Singer's prescriptive (or normative) claim that we ought to treat all humans equally and impartially? Is Asma confusing 'is' and 'ought'?

"Against Fairness" A Fresh Exploration by Stephen Asma (University of Chicago Press) from stephen asma on Vimeo.

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