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By Matti Hayry, Tuija Takala, Peter Herissone-Kelly

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Additional resources for Arguments and Analysis in Bioethics. (Value Inquiry Book)

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Can we not say that what we should really do is remove the cause of poverty, the unequal and unfair distribution of wealth and power, instead of focusing on some of the effects of the current distribution (that is the potentially coercive exchanges)? I fully agree that we should strive to remove the causes of poverty, and the systemic injustice plaguing our society, but the argument put forward is that that is the only thing we should do, that we should not strive to remove the current local effects of poverty.

What makes the offer coercive is, paradoxically, that it is an offer he or she ought to accept, but only because he or she is in a situation no human being ought to be in. Or to put it more formally, an offer is a coercive offer if (1) the recipient of the offer is in a severely materially or socially deprived situation; (2) this situation is not a situation in which the recipient ought to be on account of his or her own wrongdoing; and (3) the giver of the offer is aware of (1) and intends to use the situation to his or her own advantage.

International medical aid workers witnessed a terrible struggle for survival in the area, and established feeding stations according to the traditional approach, allocating food to the most malnourished—which were usually children under five and pregnant women. However, the food was, at the local level, taken away from the original target populations to be given to the elders of the villages. The moral value that Western medical professionals give to children 20 SIRKKU KRISTIINA HELLSTEN and pregnant women—based not only on the fact that children and women are usually the most vulnerable, but also that children are innocent and that they are “the future”—was challenged by local customs and values.

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