They say we have an obligation to only a small part of the population, the fact that they only give these
benefits to people in poverty as opposed to all people. This creates a world in which responsibility isn’t
infinite and we portion off a part of the population that is more ‘deserving’ or towards whom we have a
Levinasian ethics fails to account for other Others – problematizes the nature of responsibility.
Campbell, prof of politics @ University of Newcastle, and Shapiro, prof of political science @ University
David and Michael.
Moral Spaces: Rethinking Ethics and World Politics.
Pg 36-37. [Mardjuki]
If ethics is "a responsible, non-totalizing relation with the Other;' then politics for Levinas is "conceived of as a relation to
the third party (le
to all others, to the plurality of beings that make up the community."
There is thus a distinction
derived from the existence of the third party in Levinas's thought concerning others, which contrasts the Other as neighbor,
the participant in the one-to-one relationship, with all others, those with whom my neighbor is the third party."
Additionally, the neighbor appears to exercise the primary demand of responsibility, and then serves as the basis for my
relationship with all others:
"My relationship with the other as neighbor gives meaning to my relations with all the others.”
Levinas recognizes that the (inevitable) entry of the third party poses a dilemma: "
The responsibility for the other
immediacy antecedent to questions, it is proximity. It
is troubled and becomes a problem when a third party enters."
The concern arises because the third party dissolves the uniqueness of the one-to-one relationship, not just because it
presses the numerical claim that the world comprises many others, but because it establishes that "the third party is
than the other, and makes me one among
However, as Lingis observes, "[T]o find that the one
before whom and for whom I am responsible is responsible in his turn before and for another is not to find his order put on
me relativized or cancelled." Nonetheless, the entry of the third party does raise questions that potentially put in doubt the
universality of responsibility to the Other. As Levinas remarks,
“When others enter, each of them external to myself,
problems arise. Who is closest to me? Who is the Other?" These questions suggest the need for a calculation as to the
nature of responsibility.
Because there are always three people in the world, Levinas says, "this means that we are obliged
to ask who the other is, to try to define the undefinable
, to compare the incomparable, in an effort to juridically hold
different positions together.