Many people would say that it’s nearly always wrong not to act, whilst someone suffers an unnecessary death that could have easily been prevented. For example, simply watching a child wander onto a busy road, and not acting so as not to loose ones place in a queue at the post office. It’s difficult to see how this could be morally permissible.
Many people would also say that they don’t feel any moral obligation to donate their spare money to charity. For example, the money that’s required for me to have the internet access I need to ask this question, could be used to pay for life saving medication which could spare many children in Africa from a needless death.
On the one hand we’re morally obliged to help when we can, on the other it’s morally permissible not to help even though we can. Is there any way to make these seemingly conflicting beliefs compatible? Should we sell up and give the proceeds to the needy? Or should we admit to ourselves that we’re not prepared to live up to our own moral ideals?