I hope to address here ethical obligations that are global in character and that emerge both at a distance and within relations of proximity. The two questions that concern me are at first quite different from one another. The first is whether any of us have the capacity or inclination to respond ethically to suffering at a distance and what makes that ethical encounter possible, when it does take place. The second is what it means for our ethical obligations when we are up against another person or group, find ourselves invariably joined to those we never chose, and must respond to solicitations in languages we may not understand or even wish to understand. This happens, for instance, at the border of several contested states but also in various moments of geographical proximity—what we might call “up againstness”—the result of populations living in conditions of unwilled adjacency, the result of...

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