Do we have a moral obligation to help the 'less fortunate'?

Discussion in 'The Real World' started by Altron, Apr 17, 2009.

  1. Altron

    Altron Well-Known Member

    Do we have a moral obligation to help the 'less fortunate'?

    I have to do a debate on this subject for my philosophy class in 2 weeks
  2. Inkara1

    Inkara1 Well-Known Member

    First off, one should have one's own ducks in a row before trying to help others.

    After that... I don't think it should be an "obligation," for the same reason I wouldn't want some kid to apologize to me for something just because mommy told him to do it. It doesn't mean anything when it's forced. If I want to help someone, great. But it should be because I want to, not because I have to. If I have to, it becomes more like income redistribution instead of me spending the money I work for in the way I see fit.

    Similarly, when the Mormon missionaries were trying to get me to join the church 12 or so years ago, one of the things they told me is that if I don't tithe, that I'm "stealing from God." That bugged me. If I WANT to give 10 percent of my income to the church, then that's plenty fine... but to tell me that I HAVE to or else I'm stealing from God... no. No.
  3. Altron

    Altron Well-Known Member

    Hmmm, but you'd get two or three wives, so are you sure you made the right choice when you slammed the door in their faces? :)
  4. Inkara1

    Inkara1 Well-Known Member

    You're thinking of the FLDS... besides, one wife is quite plenty. Trust me.
  5. Professur

    Professur Well-Known Member

    Even one is too many for Inky.

    OK, to start with ... "moral obligation" is a loaded phrase wide open to interpretation. If a cashier gives you too much change, are you morally obligated to return it? Ask ten different people and hear ten different answers (even though it`s a yes or no question) Then you have to question what "help" is. Lots of street folk don't want help. Many who want help have no real need for it. Worse, many who need it and would take it don't qualify for it ... because they continue to try to help themselves too.

    At the "civil" level there's the question of subsistance. You do that simply to keep from having dead bodies in the gutter. A question of sanitation and disease prevention. Used to be that folk like that would wind up on labour gangs, made to work for their subsistance. Frankly, I think they have it worse now.

    Then you've got the "Personal" level, or the guilt trip. How do you personally feel about whoever asks you for charity.

    Then you've got a position slightly above and to the left of Civil, which is Community, Pencil in religious orgs in this area. You're not going to go to jail for not funding this one, but you are going to feel outside pressure to give. Be it tithing to the church, or buying Girl Scout cookies.

    Then you've got one last one, the voluntarily joined community. Groups like Optimists, Knights of Columbus, Lions, Shriners .... people who do a lot of work for the less fortunate.

    Lots of meat there to chew on. enjoy.
  6. valkyrie

    valkyrie Well-Known Member

    Jeezus! You lazy dork! You want us to do your homework for you? Put your nose in a few books... or research the InterWebs and get your own information.
  7. valkyrie

    valkyrie Well-Known Member

    Seriously... you really think you could handle life with one wife, Altron? Seriously... think about it. ;)
  8. jimpeel

    jimpeel Well-Known Member

    A moral obligation was given us by Jesus; but that obligation was not to be endowed by Caesar. It was a personal, not government function. It was also a personal choice to do so, not something which was required.

  9. Altron

    Altron Well-Known Member

    I have my facts. I'm looking for counter-arguments to my side, so I know what to expect, and have time to prepare against them.
  10. Inkara1

    Inkara1 Well-Known Member

    What is your side?
  11. catocom

    catocom Well-Known Member

    altron, this is school we're talking about.
    Prof is right, but if you want to pass, better go left.
  12. valkyrie

    valkyrie Well-Known Member

    Then, like every situation, "moral obligation" has it's limits and situations. It also depends on your culture and religion, and how deeply ingrained you are in this religion.

    Although the teachings of many prophets (Jesus, Mohamed, Buddha, etc.) have passages that relate to the "moral obligation" to help the less fortunate (sick, injured, poor, etc.) many of the followers of those religions do not do so. This relates directly to the level at which the follower of that religion believes in the faith they proclaim to be associated with (various sects of Christianity, Judaism, various sects of Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, etc.).

    If you are asking on an individual basis (what we, the members of this board, believe and/or support) then my personal belief is that we have an ethical obligation with limits.

    Humans are, by nature, social. We learned early on that if we formed communities we could not only divide work to prepare for seasons when food was scarce and protect ourselves from the elements, we could also defend ourselves from the elements of nature, predator animals, and predator human tribes. A community also provides for a larger gene pool. Communities are far more efficient than individuals or small family units.

    In some primitive societies, it was customary for the elderly or members with an infirmity to voluntarily commit suicide by leaving the safety of the community, ridding the community (and their families) of the burden of caring for them when resources were so scarce. This was especially true of migratory and nomadic groups. (I would like to say that this was not in all cases.)

    The purging of unhealthy members of a society is not limited to adults. There are many examples of infanticide. An example of infanticide can be found among indigenous people of the Amazon. If a child was born and did not look normal, the child was either taken to the jungle and left alone (to die of exposure, or to be eaten by wild animals) or a rock could also be placed on the infant's chest impairing it's ability to breath. Another example among the indigenous people of the Amazon is the high frequency of warring which occurred between tribes/communities. Women were captured to be taken as "wives" and their infants and small children had their heads bashed against the rocks to kill them. (It makes no sense to provide for the offspring of your enemy, and breast feeding impairs ovulation.)

    In a society where the society is working hard for their survival, caring for the less fortunate makes far less sense.

    In a more advanced society, this is not the case. Resources are not scarce. We efficiently farm and ranch to produce an abundance of food in Western society and other parts of the world.

    There is a limit, however. Basic food and basic shelter are all that are required to meet the needs of any individual, "less fortunate" or otherwise. I live within my means, everyone else should do the same.

    The most efficient way to provide support to the "less fortunate" is by means of pooling resources.

    Homeless: shelters, "soup kitchens". Shelters have the power to pool sums of money together to purchase food and other items at a lower cost than an individual. I never give money to the beggar on the street, ever. If I'm willing to give him/her a dollar, I give it to the shelter where it will do more good.

    Working poor: Habitat for Humanity. Many working poor remain in a vicious circle of bad credit and financial doom. Habitat for Humanity, with the help of volunteers, provides families with affordable housing to help break that cycle.

    Nearly everyone can work. They can do something. Mow lawns, clean houses, bag groceries, etc. There are those who can not do anything at all and they SHOULD be cared for by their families with minimum help from society.

    More later... gotta eat breakfast.
  13. randomJACKASS

    randomJACKASS Banned

    Well I am not going to get into the debate concerning most parts of it. I can't even say for sure how I feel about all aspects of this. What I can say, is there was a time when I worked in a sheltered workshop for the developmentally disabled. Normal folks like us did the skilled labor and supervised, while developmentally disabled adults did the unskilled labor and were paid according to what they could do. What I can say, is that a few of these folks had parents who took responsibility and provided for them as best as they could. The work was a way that these folks could be productive, and be a part of something and make some money. Believe it or not, even the profoundly mentally disabled have a desire to do their part and make their way best as they can.

    The sad part though is that most of those folks either had parents that pre-deceased them, or the unfortunate few of them who had parents who saw them as freaks, a mistake, and didn't give a crap. For these folks the workshop was a wonderful thing, but it was certainly not enough to sustain them. If not for the tax dollars that paid for the place they lived and their caregivers, many would have been on the streets with nothing or nowhere to go or dead. All I can say is that anyone who doesn't give a crap about the care of these folks should spend a week with these people, and if, after that week, you can say they don't matter, or that you don't care, well then I figure you really have little to redeem you as a human being. They may be disabled, and they may be different and strange, but it becomes very apparent, that outside of that, they are very much like anyone else you know.
  14. valkyrie

    valkyrie Well-Known Member

    Well said! :clap:
  15. 2minkey

    2minkey bootlicker

    yeah i think there's some of thems in the american midwest, too.
  16. Luis G

    Luis G <i><b>Problemator</b></i> Staff Member

    Ahhh, philosophy class, the true meaning of morality and its differences with ethics...

    I think it is morally right to help the less fortunate, therefore you are morally obliged to do so. Of course being morally obliged does not mean that you are legally obliged, it all depends upon your moral views or the morality being considered.

    Anyway, people have been studying philosophy for ages and they still can't make their own minds about what's right and what's not.
  17. valkyrie

    valkyrie Well-Known Member

    There are certain universal "rights and wrongs" in almost every society. Actions which take the life of another human is a universal wrong. Actions which benefit the society/community are a universal right.

    IOW, to steal or to con may be a wrong in your society. However, among bands of American Gypsies, it is a way of life.
  18. Altron

    Altron Well-Known Member

    I agree with the ideas of soup kitchens and homeless shelters and stuff.

    What I'm opposed to is welfare. I think that if someone is living on the street and starving to death, we should give them food. But money? I think welfare can be misguided at times. There are certainly people who genuinely benefit from it, but I think it is abused more often than not, and seen as a way to get by without having to work. There's no such thing as being completely unemployable, unless you have a massive disability. There are jobs that might not be pleasant, and might not pay well, but they don't have any prerequisites, and they give you money. I'm opposed to the idea of the people who are unemployed, make no effort to find work, and get their rent and food paid for by the government.

    One of my neighbors has a learning disability. He's not an idiot, he's capable of having a conversation with as long as it doesn't get too complex. He's like 24 or 25 now, and works at a grocery store, because he barely scraped through high school in Special Education, so he doesn't have much of an education, but he works really hard, and he makes enough money to get by. I went to school with his younger brother, and I have a lot of respect for someone that even though he has kinda crappy job and no prospects of getting a better one, he still works really hard, and he's just a good person to be around. I've never heard him complain or be angry.

    Then you see these people who have no disabilities at all, but realized that they can get the same paycheck by going on welfare as they could from working at a dead-end job, and just didn't feel like having to go to work.

    And, I don't think we should be giving cash to people on welfare. Give them food, second-hand clothing, shelter, and those kind of necessities, but don't give them money to go out and spend on crap they don't need.
  19. catocom

    catocom Well-Known Member

    I also am disabled.
    I do work, but it's not employment, it's simple stuff at home.
    I never know how long I can hold out.

    One thing a person has to take into account.
    If the person can do anything, but also how much pain will it cause, and
    is an employer comfortable with a possible liability.
    Most are not.
  20. BeardofPants

    BeardofPants New Member

    Altron, I left home @ 16 because I come from an abusive background. I needed to go on welfare to pay rent etc while I finished high school. I also got the student allowance to put my through university. What would you have people like me do?

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