Duty and Distance
Published online: 22 March 2017
Ó The Author(s) 2017. This article is an open access publication
Ever since the publication of Peter Singer’s article ‘‘Famine, Afﬂuence, and
Morality’’ has the question of whether the (geographical) distance to people in need
affects our moral duties towards them been a hotly debated issue.
geographical distance affect our moral duties? If so, is it of direct moral
importance? Or is it of indirect importance to other aspects that affect our moral
duties, such as our power to help other people?
Long after the publication of Singer’s article, the relation between morality and
distance has received renewed attention in contributions by many leading
While these contributions debate problems of duty and distance,
We are grateful to Sine Bag
atur, Martin van Hees, Sem de Maagt, Ingrid Robeyns, Willem van der Deijl
as well as audiences at LMU Munich and Erasmus University Rotterdam and an anonymous referee of
this journal for very helpful comments. Conrad Heilmann’s work was supported by a Marie Curie Career
Integration Grant from the European Union and a VENI grant from the Netherlands Organisation for
Scientiﬁc Research (NWO).
& Conrad Heilmann
Erasmus Institute for Philosophy and Economics (EIPE), Faculty of Philosophy, Erasmus
University Rotterdam, 3000 DR Rotterdam, The Netherlands
Peter Singer, ‘‘Famine, Afﬂuence, and Morality,’’ Philosophy and Public Affairs (Princeton University
Press) 1/3 (1972): 229–243.
Peter Singer (1972), op. cit. See the contributions of the 2003 special issue on ‘‘Moral Distance’’ in The
Monist 86/3, for instance: Deen K. Chatterjee, ‘‘Moral Distance: Introduction,’’ The Monist 86/3 (2003):
327–332; Jeremy Waldron, ‘‘Who is my Neighbor?: Humanity and Proximity,’’ The Monist 86/3 (2003):
J Value Inquiry (2017) 51:547–561