Individuals have a moral obligation to assist people in need
Do-Gooders, philanthropists, humanitarian people, the ones who care; gotta love 'em. But is it always good to care? I'd like to relay a story my principal related to the school long ago: Once upon a time there was a caterpillar stuck in its cocoon and a goodly well-meaning stranger grabbed his scissors and clipped the cocoon for it. Now if the caterpillar had struggled a little longer he would come out unscathed but thanks to the goodly stranger a one-winged butterfly clumsily jumped out forever crippled.
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But individuals are people in need
So you're essentially saying that people should help themselves and others?
In modern philosophy the stress on 'help' and 'cooperation' is very pronounced. If the goal is to optimize well-being then this should be the logical course of action. If you want the world to be a livable, better and wonderful place. Do unto others ...
Hedonism, humanism and hatred are all essential parts of a healthy human psyche. There will be times that you won't get put of bed because you don't want to. There will be times when you will feel the urge to kill don't act on it, there will be times that your heart will be broken and you will break other people's hearts. There is no way around creating needs, denying needs and so on, as such you are not obligated to doing anything. You don't owe the world or the children or humanity anything.
But since we all also have the desire to help, give and be liked (as Hobbes would put it, even selfless acts are selfish) we should but there still should not be an obligation, as such. [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HwNFiffOKic]]
2. consequentialism - we must reduce overall suffering, helping people reduces suffering in the world
Consequentialism says that we must minimize suffering and provide the most help to the greatest number of people. Helping those in need would reduce such suffering. Moreover, $20 to an affluent person is much less valuable than $20 for an impoverished person. Thus if the affluent person donates that $20 it reduces more suffering than if they use it themselves.
I understand we may minimize suffering but we should not be morally obliged to do so. For, moral obligation does not exist. It is just the feeling of guilt that pushes us to donate, or give charity.
virtue ethics - we become better people
Although it might seem a bit vacuous, virtue ethics states that when we act righteously we become more complete persons. Thus the most moral action for ourselves, would be to help others and, in doing so, become more virtuous persons.
According to Rawls, we are selfish. Therefore, we are doing things for our own benefit. We do not become a more virtous person but we obtain something. We also tend to do things for our own fulfillment. If you are doing something for yourself, you are not being virtuous.
Empathy is the ultimate virtue. Only when acting out of empathy do we understand other people, meaning that the only way we can understand others and our obligation to them is through empathy. When we do empathize with those in need, we understand their pain and need, and so we are obligated to help them.
That aruguement makes a separation between obligations and understanding. Essentially, if one understands another and their pain, a moral obligation is thus created. This means that it is not a moral obligation that we have to help peole, but a problem of understanding. Some could then create a meaning or create an understanding that compels them to assist another. The logic then is flawed because it leaves understanding up to the individual as well as what assistence they are to act upon to fix what they understand. If that is the case, the overal goal would then never be accomplished. It thus places the power to define all relavent terms into each and every individual. This is counter productive because this would cause more harm then good. The reason for not having a moral obligation to assist a person in need would be because one can never truly understand whether or not the need is ralavent or if the assistence is even fruitful. I then ask what makes up a moral obligation?
It's none of your business
Sure, everybody's in need but that is no excuse to bother a homeless person sleeping in a garbage can or pooping in the park It is horrible enough that this person has to sleep there or poop there, the indignity of his/her circumstances is only worsened with your pity or your food throwing or what you call help. Every human being has the right to be left alone and not be judged or interfered with.
Sometimes people refuse help when it is good for them. For example, not wanting to swallow bitter medicine despite being very very sick. [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=djQdI1t9_Ag]]
Only help those who ask for it and that too at your discretion
Suppose someone 'needs' to have sex and comes up to you and asks you to do it. It is not your moral obligation to help, okay. Kids today! Just because someone has asked you do something or if someone needs something, is not obligation to go ahead and help them. [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q99JgYrgzco&feature=related]] If you want to help people and they want your help then by all means do so, but otherwise there's no 'obligation' per se. Free will, exercise it. [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q99JgYrgzco&feature=related]]
A way to assist the person in need of sex would then be to change what it is they need. You are not obligated to have sex with them, you are however obligated to assist them in not having to have sex in the first place. This essentialy means we perscribe ourselves to knowing the best way to help a need. The way to do this would be to abide by a legitamite government which operates under the notion orf morals. It is throught these morals that we obtain an understanding of justice. Justice is thus assisting those in need. The foundation for justice is morals. Anyone living under a legitamite government not only has a moral obligation to assist a person in need, but continuosly practice this. The citation of 'Free will' was only understood because of a moral foundation. To exercise that right would then obligate you to abide by the laws created by the government. By obeying those laws you assist others by creating a society that minimized pain and suffering as well as maximized understanding.
A moral obligation is an imperative. As good as philanthropy is and that it improves the world, it should not be required. Morally one's task should be to do the right thing by improving oneself rather than others first.
If one advocates for the moral advancement of obeself, then they also understand that there is a moral reason behind it. By bettering oneself they assist others. It then brings truth to the notion that "Individuals have a moral obligation to assist a person in need."
Although helping people in need is an honorable thing to do, when we tell people that they are "obligated" to help, those on the receiving end will develop a laziness or dependence upon others. Now said person is ALWAYS in need help and ALWAYS want more. This makes them a serious drain on society and a serious drain on my wallet. <---(yes... i'm a capitalist)
they are called "tax-write offs". Not only is it cool its saves you, ....ahem....i mean me money. <----(yes....i'm a capitalist)
Virtue ethics states that when we act righteously we become more complete persons. Thus the most moral action for ourselves, would be to help others and, in doing so, become more virtuous persons.
this is actully a yes and not a no but anyway....
I guess this will be no then. Virtue ethics is a good point in this topic but lets also think about the true outcome of helping someone. You could endanger yourself in the process. If you see a person badly beaten, are you going to stop and help? I wouldn't. Teach people to act righteously in other ways.
What do you think?