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aid, distributive justice, need, poverty


This paper examines how people think about aiding others in a way that can inform both theory and practice. It uses data gathered from Kiva, an online, non-profit organization that allows individuals to aid other individuals around the world, to isolate intuitions that people find broadly compelling. The central result of the paper is that people seem to give more priority to aiding those in greater need at least below some threshold. That is, the data strongly suggest incorporating both a threshold and a prioritarian principle into the analysis of what principles for aid distribution people accept. This conclusion should be of broad interest to aid practitioners and policy makers. It may also provide important information for political philosophers interested in building, justifying, and criticizing theories about meeting needs using empirical evidence.


This is an electronic version of an article coauthored with Emir Malikov and Nathan Lubchenco to be published in Philosophical Psychology complete citation information for the final version of the paper, as published in the print edition of the journal will be available on the journal's website at

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Accepted for publication for the journal: Philosophical Psychology

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Philosophy Commons



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