The duty to bring aid
in The Norman Geras Reader
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There is an aspect of the unconditional in the duty to come to the help of people in danger. This has about it the pull of an irresistible demand. A sense of its unconditionality suffuses the literature of catastrophe. This chapter looks for it first in what may appear the least likely of places. In the general theoretical sense our responsibility for all of humankind and our guilt for the ills befalling others are universal and unlimited. However, it is different with respect to the amount of help any single person's duties can be thought to encompass. Within general moral code, we should not be drawn into a moral absolutism, permit ourselves a standard fit only for saints. This is for metaphysical and anthropological reasons, and it is also for reasons straightforward humanity in the ethical sense. The chapter considers these three kinds of reasons in turn.

The Norman Geras Reader

‘What’s there is there’

Editors: Ben Cohen and Eve Garrard

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