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Lecture 41

PHIL 320A Lecture Notes - Lecture 41: J. O. Urmson, Supererogation, Eugenius Warming

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- There would seem, therefore, to be no possible justification for discriminating on geographical
- second implication of my principle-that the fact that there are millions of other people in the
same position, in respect to the Bengali refugees, as I am, does not make the situation
significantly different from a situation in which I am the only person who can prevent
something very bad from occurring
- Thus, if everyone does what he ought to do, the result will not be as good as it would be if
everyone did a little less than he ought to do, or if only some do all that they ought to do
- The result of everyone doing what he really ought to do cannot be worse than the result of
everyone doing less than he ought to do, although the result of everyone doing what he
reasonably believes he ought to do could be
- If my argument so far has been sound, neither our distance from a preventable evil nor the
number of other people who, in respect to that evil, are in the same situation as we are, lessens
our obligation to mitigate or prevent that evil
- if it is in our power to prevent something very bad from happening, without thereby
sacrificing anything else morally significant, we ought, morally, to do it
- we ought to give money away, rather than spend it on clothes which we do not need to keep us
warm. To do so is not charitable, or generous. Nor is it the kind of act which philosophers and
theologians have called supererogatory"- an act which it would be good to do, but not wrong
not to do. On the contrary, we ought to give the money away, and it is wrong not to do so.
- discussing distinction between duty and charity
- two objections
- 1. it is too drastic a revision of our moral scheme
- J. 0. Urmson suggests that the imperatives of duty, which tell us what we must do, as distinct
from what it would be good to do but not wrong not to do, function so as to prohibit behavior
that is intolerable if men are to live together in society
- Sidgwick and Urmson argument this argument suggests that if we tell people that they
ought to refrain from murder and give everything they do not really need to famine relief, they
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