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Between Samaritans and StatesThe Political Ethics of Humanitarian INGOs$
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Jennifer Rubenstein

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780199684106

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199684106.001.0001

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The Moral Motivation Tradeoff

The Moral Motivation Tradeoff

(p.171) 7 The Moral Motivation Tradeoff
Between Samaritans and States

Jennifer C. Rubenstein

Oxford University Press

Chapter 7 examines the ethical predicaments associated with humanitarian INGOs’ use of photographs of famine and severe poverty to raise funds from donor country publics. Many INGOs and INGO critics assume that in portraying famine and severe poverty, INGOs face a “dilemma” of “need vs. dignity.” This chapter argues that this conceptualization of the issue is misleading: it makes the ethical predicaments raised by INGO portrayals appear more singular and more intractable than they are. Chapter 7 then proposes an alternative conception: the moral motivation tradeoff. Understanding the ethical predicament that INGOs face as instances of this tradeoff suggests two promising strategies for (partially) defusing them: “diluting” INGOs’ images with images created by others, and engaging in “critical visual rhetoric.”

Keywords:   moral motivation, ethical predicament, rhetoric, photograph, psychology, fundraising, advertisement, video, famine, poverty, MSF, Save the Children

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