Special duties to fellow compatriots are those perceived roles that we should all acknowledge. It has been a common belief that those duties towards our compatriots take precedence over the duties of justice we do to outsiders. However, according to Goodin (1988), this is not entirely true, as presently, it has been seen as wrong to give priority to the claims of our compatriots. This assertion by Robert Goodin is because the duties of our compatriots are based on their selfishness and not at all times logical (Caney, 2011). As such, Goodin means that the claims that our compatriots make in terms of their perceived problems are not always right and should not therefore deceive us. On the contrary, we should not always focus on the claims that they make but on the correct position and establish who between our compatriots and others needs more help than the other. However, this statement is not entirely true as it would be impossible to leave our compatriots who need our help and help outsiders.
Our compatriots take precedence over the foreigners when it comes to duties of aid. As such, it would be absurd and illogical to pretend to care for the foreigners when our compatriots do not have enough. Specifically, in the view of Blake (2001), we would start by helping our families, the community, and the country at large. Before the claims of these groups of compatriots are properly addressed, it would not be in any way rational to rush in helping foreigners. For instance, it is it our obligations to ensure that the properties of our compatriots are properly protected irrespective of the location of those property (Mason, 1997). On the contrary, we might have no obligation to ensure the security of the property of foreigners in their own countries. As such, the argument by Goodin that it is wrong to give priority to the claims of our compatriots is not entirely true.
The mutual benefit society model obliges us not to intervene in matters that are not of mutual benefit to us. As such, any internal wrangles within the territories of a country should not be interfered with by another country lest they are accused with interfering with the internal affairs of another country. However, Seglow (2010) states that there are situations that arise and which would require the intervention of others. For instance, in countries where innocent lives are being lost through war, it would be morally proper for intervention to ensure that lives are saved; however, the mutual benefit in this case is international peace and security (Cole, 2012). As such, the statement by Goodin is incorrect judging from the fact that the help of foreigners is only for mutual benefits.
In conclusion, the statement by Goodin that in the present world system it is often and ordinarily wrong to give priority of our compatriots is incorrect. This is because in the case of duties of aid, out compatriots take priority over foreigners. Notably, charity begins at home and there is no way one can leave his/her family suffering and help foreigners. Additionally, according to the mutual benefit society model, ay action taken to help the foreigners is for mutual benefit. As such, helping them would benefit the helper in one way or the other.
Blake, M. (2001). Distributive justice, state coercion, and autonomy. Philosophy & public affairs, 30(3), 257-296.
Caney, S. (2011). Humanity, Associations, and Global Justice: In Defence of Humanity-Centred Cosmopolitan Egalitarianism. The Monist, 94(4), 506-534.
Cole, P. (2012). Taking moral equality seriously: egalitarianism and immigration controls. Journal of international political theory, 8(1-2), 121-134.
Goodin, R. E. (1988). What is so special about our fellow countrymen?. Ethics, 98(4), 663-686.
Mason, A. (1997). Special obligations to compatriots. Ethics, 107(3), 427-447.
Seglow, J. (2010). Associative Duties and Global Justice. Journal of Moral Philosophy, 7(1), 54-73.
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