In the time it takes to read this sentence, another person (most probably a child) will have succumbed to starvation. Every hour there are 1,000 deaths from hunger or from diseases to which the malnourished body is prone. e 3,000 or so people whose deaths in the 9/11 attack have had such an impact on the lives of people in the West were a fraction of those who died from hunger on that very day. What is more, for an eighth of the world’s population, some 820,000,000 people, hunger is a permanent companion (Vernon 2007)

For most of us, for most of the time, other people’s starvation is of little concern and is readily eclipsed by concern with the pursuit of pleasure, the fortunes of our football team, or unhappy love. For

many, perhaps, it is of no concern at all. For only a few (to use Keats’s words in “ e Fall of Hyperion”), “the miseries of the world / Are Misery, and will not let them rest”. Surely, one might think, if we, the well-fed, had an ounce of humanity, the daily torture and premature death of the malnourished should be a constant preoccupation. Even Brecht’s apparently cynical aphorism “Grub fi rst, then ethics” suggests that once the grub has been provided, ethics will follow. And there could be no more basic ethic than our obligation to those who lack the means to life.