Moral demands and the far future


I argue that moral philosophers have either misunderstood the problem of moral demandingness or at least failed to recognize important dimensions of the problem that undermine many standard assumptions. It has been assumed that utilitarianism concretely directs us to maximize welfare within a generation by transferring resources to people currently living in extreme poverty. In fact, utilitarianism seems to imply that any obligation to help people who are currently badly off is trumped by obligations to undertake actions targeted at improving the value of the long-term future. Reflecting on the demands of beneficence in respect of the value of the far future forces us to view key aspects of the problem of moral demandingness in a very different light. GPI Working Paper No. 1-2020

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Andreas Mogensen
Oxford University


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