Singer, a utilitarian, argues that we have a duty to contribute to famine relief—donating a $5 bag of rice to those suffering famine will, all things being equal, bring about more happiness than if I had spent that money on an expensive coffee. After all, utilitarians argue that we have a duty to choose those actions which promote the greater good. Kant takes the opposing view—that helping others is certainly a good (an imperfect duty) but it is not something we are obligated to do on every occasion. On Kant’s view, my duty is done if I refrain from using others as a means to an end. I have a duty to respect you and let you make your own decisions. But I do not have a duty to play Superman in the lives of others, swooping down to help those in need. Who do you think is right? Why?
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