Altruism, Welfare and the Law by Charles Foster, Jonathan Herring

By Charles Foster, Jonathan Herring

This booklet is an attack at the inspiration that it truly is empirically actual and legally and philosophically passable to determine people as atomistic entities. It contends that our welfare is inextricably entangled with that of others, and hence legislations and ethics, in deciding upon our greatest pursuits, may still recognize the critical value of relationality, the functionality of responsibilities, and (even it appears injurious) altruism.

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J Health Psychol 4:301–316 Parfit D (1984) Reasons and persons. Clarendon Press, Oxford Piliavin JA, Siegl E (2007) Health benefits of volunteering in the Wisconsin Longitudinal Study. J Health Soc Behav 48:450–464 References 31 Pillemer K, Fuller-Rowell TE, Reid MC, Wells NM (2010) Environmental volunteering and health outcomes over a 20-year period. The Gerontologist 50:594–602 Pinquart M, Sorensen S (2003) Differences between caregivers and non-caregivers in psychological health and physical health: a meta-analysis.

But the impersonal goals of moral action cannot be either those of a person other than the actor, or those of many others. Hence, it follows that they must necessarily involve something other than individuals. They are supra-individual. Outside or beyond individuals there is nothing other than groups formed by the union of individuals, that is to say, societies. Moral goals, then, are those the object of which is society. To act morally is to act in terms of the collective interest. This conclusion imposes itself in the wake of the foregoing arguments, which were successively eliminated.

We have also, throughout the book, explained the benefit of good relations. This is important because it helps to establish what we are seeking to achieve when we assess welfare or best interests. But there is another very important aspect: it is only through appreciating what truly caring relationships are that we can see why abuse is so harmful—and indeed why abuse in the sphere of intimate relations is even more serious than abuse in other contexts (Herring 2011). From our earliest days our character and understanding of ourselves are fixed by and through relationships with others (Carle 2005).

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