Is Poverty Relief Our Collective Duty?
Anne Schwenkenbecher (Murdoch University)

March 24, 2017, 10:00am - 12:00pm
Department of Philosophy, School of Historical and Philosophical Studies, University of Melbourne

Room 651, North Wing, 6th Floor, Arts West
Arts West Building
Melbourne 3010


Holly Lawford-Smith
University of Melbourne

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**The room is behind a swipecard access door, so if you're not a University of Melbourne staff member or student then please wait in the 6th Floor North Wing lobby and I'll come and let you in just before the seminar starts.**


Many scholars have argued – in one way or another – that combating global poverty is a collective duty held by the global affluent. But in doing so, they have employed very different notions of ‘collective duties’ – some of which are more plausible than others. This paper attempts to answer the question: In what sense – if any – can duties to combat poverty be considered collective? In other words: what is a suitable account of collective duties as far as poverty relief is concerned? This argument is not meant to undermine the generally held view that poverty relief must primarily be delivered by institutional agents such as states, supranational institutions and international organisations. Rather, the question is what kind of duty ordinary citizens hold while those institutional agents fail to eradicate poverty and given the fact that ordinary citizens with disposable income can usually contribute to poverty relief at little cost to themselves. That we do have some such duty is beyond doubt, however, construing duties as collective is often thought to help avoid collective action dilemmas and other moral impasses.

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