In a world filled with both enormous wealth and pockets of great devastation, how should the well-off respond to the world's needy?
This is the urgent central question of Being Good in a World of Need. Larry S. Temkin, one of the world's foremost ethicists, challenges common assumptions about philanthropy, his own prior beliefs, and the dominant philosophical positions of Peter Singer and Effective Altruism. Filled with keen analysis and insightful discussions of philosophy, current events, development economics, history, literature, and age-old wisdom, this book is a thorough and sobering exploration of the complicated ways that global aid may incentivize disastrous policies, reward corruption, and foster “brain drains” that hinder social and economic development.
Using real-world examples and illuminating thought experiments, Temkin discusses ethical imperialism, humanitarian versus developmental aid, how charities ignore or coverup negative impacts, replicability and scaling-up problems, and the views of the renowned economists Angus Deaton and Jeffrey Sachs, all within the context of deeper philosophical issues of fairness, responsibility, and individual versus collective morality. At times both inspiring and profoundly disturbing, he presents the powerful argument that neglecting the needy is morally impermissible, even as he illustrates that the path towards helping others is often fraught with complex ethical and practical perils. Steeped in empathy, morality, pathos, and humanity, this is an engaging and eye-opening text for any reader who shares an intense concern for helping others in need.