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NOTES AND
STUDY GUIDE


FINAL PAPER TOPIC           HUMAN RIGHTS            PHILOSOPHY 19A

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9. Social Proximity

IX. The Child That John Could Save from Drowning Was, Like John, an American; Whereas the Children in the Envelope Case are All Foreigners.

While (again) it may be more likely that John will respond to the drowning child more immediately if the child is socially close to him, even this is far from obvious. In such a case there may not be much time to determine the nationality or ethnicity of the drowning child and no one surely would suggest that if John elected to 'do the right thing' and save the child that were he to discover, once he had saved her, that she was Bolivian, not American, he would throw her back. Putting aside the related issues of whether, for instance, we should only be obligated to members of our own family, surely the ethnicity or nationality of the child has no moral relevance! (Adapted from Unger)

Or does it?

Spices in Marketplace, Somalia




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February 14, 1998
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