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Singer’s Utilitarian Account of Cosmopolitan Obligations: A Critical Evaluation

P Osimiri

Abstract


One of the fundamental academic impacts of the ongoing phenomenon of globalization is the expansion of intellectual/moral horizon which has culminated in what some scholars describe as the rise of global consciousness. This, consequently, had led to the reemergence and the strengthening of the cosmopolitan movement whose basic assumption is that all human beings share essential features that unite, or should unite, them in a community that transcends national borders, and warrant their designation as “citizens of the world.” From this core, cosmopolitan discourses examine the issues of community, identity, political institutions, justice, obligation etc. Our concern in this paper is to critically interrogate Peter Singer’s utilitarian-based conception of cosmopolitan obligations. Singer’s thesis, simply put, is that from the perspective of utilitarian and cosmopolitan considerations, the affluent owe a moral obligation to provide aid to the masses of the poor irrespective of whether they are compatriots or foreigners. Here we examine the validity of Singer’s argument, highlight, its strength and weakness, and then proceed to demonstrate how singer’s argument can be reconstructed to establish the proposition that the affluent owe the poor a duty of aid.

Keywords: Cosmopolitan, Utilitarian, Charity, Development




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