Saturday, November 19, 2011

Rethinking Remedial Responsibilities

Abstract. How should we determine which nations have a responsibility to remedy suffering elsewhere? The problem is pressing because, following David Miller, ‘[it] is morally intolerable if (remediable) suffering and deprivation are allowed to continue . . . where they exist we are morally bound to hold somebody (some person or collective agent) responsible for relieving them’. Miller offers a connection theory of remedial responsibilities in response to this problem, a theory he has been developing over the last decade. This theory is meant to serve as a guide on how we can best determine which nations are remedially responsible for alleviating suffering and deprivation elsewhere. Miller’s theory entails our following a procedure in order to determine remedial responsibility for nations. The problem is that there is an important flaw in this procedure, a flaw that previous critiques have overlooked. This essay will explain this flaw and how Miller’s theory might be reformulated into a two-tiered procedure that would take better account of this problem.

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