Do we have a moral responsibility to help our fellow man?

Discussion in 'Science & Society' started by rodereve, Feb 28, 2013.

  1. rodereve Registered Member

    -Should we care what happens to people in other parts of the world, where civil wars, hunger, natural disasters take place

    -Is it an obligation to help them, or people less fortunate than us

    -Why should we follow the mantra "Help thy neighbor", why not focus on helping your own household instead, and let everyone focus on their own
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  3. Crunchy Cat F-in' *meow* baby!!! Valued Senior Member

    Do you really need to be told what to care or not care about?

    Obligations don't objectively exist.

    Why don't you follow whatever mantra you like and others can do the same. If you don't like helping people then don't help people. If others like helping people then let them help people.
    Last edited: Feb 28, 2013
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  5. rodereve Registered Member

    Actually, yes. Our moral framework is heavily influenced by our culture, parental upbringing, societal and political factors. So to even think that you came to your values and principles independently by yourself, is to hugely overestimate yourself and undervalue the teachings, inspirations and events that have occurred throughout your lifetime.

    Yes, of course I meant the question in terms of an official mandate ordering everyone to help them or not. That is EXACTLY what I was trying to get at.

    Why don't people on one side of the gun control debate just do what they want with their guns, and why don't the people on the other side of the debate do what they want. Feel free to extrapolate this laissez faire thinking to every discussion in this entire forums. It's just simplier that way.
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  7. wellwisher Banned Banned

    I agree that we should help others, but it should be done voluntarily, in ways we, individually, wish to give. Not everyone has the same philosophy in terms of the best course of action for giving. There is a saying if you give someone a fish they will be hungry tomorrow but if you teach them to fish they can feed themselves forever.

    We can send food, but this may not change anything in terms of long term solution. We may make it possible for the population to expand and the need for food to compound. We have created dependency. They may owe you, at election time. Or we can give them tools and seeds leading to their own self reliance. In this case, they may not need us in the future, which undermines obligations, since you can't panic them with the threat of the other guy taking skills away.
  8. KitemanSA Registered Senior Member

    Morally, no. But it is usually the ethical thing to do.
  9. Crunchy Cat F-in' *meow* baby!!! Valued Senior Member

    Then you should care deeply about pocket lint. Especially if I am selling it to you for the low price of $19.95 per lint ball.

    Your moral framework is also heavily influenced by our genetics. That's why people from vastly different cultures can witness a single event and have the same exact moral reaction to it.

    On official mandate is powerless unless there is enforcement behind it. Who could enforce such a thing and how would they do it?

    Probably because "gun control" in the United States concerns keeping deadly tools out of the hands of people who want to kill people. Your thread is concerning forced altruistic behavior. If that doesn't seem relevant to you then I'll help you see the relevance. Do you personally want to help people less fortunate than you?
  10. Magical Realist Valued Senior Member

    Our planet is now so interconnected in so many ways it becomes imperative for our own survival that all nations be as healthy and prosperous and well-educated as possible. An outbreak of ebola in some distant famine-ridden country could easily turn into a worldwide epidemic in a matter of months. Impoverished conditions foster the growth of crime, terrorist regimes, drug lords, and corrupt governments that will all eventually effect us. And lack of education can result in widespread ignorance and weakmindedness that could eventually give rise to fundamentalist religious sects and fascist leaders who readily take advantage of their people's gullibility. Never before in history has doing the right thing become so intertwined with doing the advantageous thing.
  11. Dinosaur Rational Skeptic Valued Senior Member

    I prefer to use the term ethics rather than morality, which implies theology/religion. Since there are many religions, morality becomes a murky concept.

    I believe proper ethics require that a person does no harm to another. It does not require helping another.

    In some circumstances, I would no longer want to associate in any way with a person who can provide significant help at very little cost. Note that most ethical situations are a spectrum: White, black, & many shades of gray. Consider a human being needed help to escape drowning.

    If it is a 260 pound NFL line backer in raging white water, I would not consider helping.

    If it is an infant in 3 feet of water at the shallow end of a swimming pool, I would surely jump or reach in to save it.

    Between the above extremes, each person makes a decision & others should respect his/her lack of action.​
  12. KitemanSA Registered Senior Member

    Morality and ethics are two distinct issues, though the English language mixes them into a hodge-podge. The way I choose to assign them is that morality has to do with right and wrong while ethics has to do with good and bad. Religions have dogmas that try to define one or the other, or sometimes both.
    Morality is a absolute. Something is either right or it is wrong. Ethics not so much. Ethics is a continuum (worst, worse, bad, enh, good, better, best) and is situational.

    Morality can be defined simply as "people have the right to voluntary action". Explained in the negative, "it is wrong to involve someone in an action involuntarily".
  13. Dinosaur Rational Skeptic Valued Senior Member

    KitemanSA: The following might conform to dictionary definitions.
    It has been my experience terms like: Moral, immoral, morality most often make people think of religious concepts associated with acts/attitudes considered sinful as defined by the person's particular religion.

    Note the bolded phrase in the above quote. Does it imply that you consider your definitions to be different from the norm?

    I have always preferred the Oriental version of the Golden Rule: Do not do to others what you do not want others to do unto you.

    BTW: Good/bad --- Right/wrong do not seem to be correct words in this context. Right/wrong often refer to matters of logic or mathematics rather than behavior. Similarly Good/bad are often spoken to pet dogs. When I owned dogs, they always knew that bad dog indicated that they had misbehaved.

    This type of discussion tends to be awkward: There seems to be subtle definitional nuances from one person to the next.

    BTW: Define your terms is a common request when people are arguing. Logicians/Mathematicians might make the following request: List your undefined primitive terms. Are you aware that line & point are viewed as undefined primitives when a formal logician is discussing Plane Geometry?
  14. Jeeves Valued Senior Member

    Depends partly on how much of those troubles you have directly or indirectly caused, and partly on how much of it can or will bite you in the ass.

    If you want to be a good human, yes. If you've read history, probably a good idea whether you care about good or not.

    Coz maybe someday you'll fall down an elevator shaft and survive - or not survive and leave dependents.
  15. KitemanSA Registered Senior Member

    The last dictionary I looked them up in defined one as the other and vice versa. totally useless. so I had to choose and define each specifically.
  16. KitemanSA Registered Senior Member

    Still solipsist. What you want isn't the issue, it is what they volunteer to. And one of the versions in the KJB is just fine, "do unto others as you would have them do unto you". Not WHAT you would have, AS you would have.
  17. KitemanSA Registered Senior Member

    And it means the same here. Right and wrong means you are behaving correctly or incorrectly.

    Regarding you dog, please note that I said "people" have the right to ..." Dogs ain't people. what you are truly saying to your dog is "you are behaving badly" i.e., their behavior was a negative TO YOU, not to them. But then, you "owned" them and their desires don't count.
  18. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    I try very hard to treat my dogs honorably.

    Of course they fall into a category similar to children, unable to fully comprehend the modern world, with a mental and emotional makeup that's not capable of coping with it. So that combination of lack of comprehension and capability could injure or kill them. Once we decide to have children, we take on the obligation to care for their health and welfare, even if it feels like constraint to them. We have the same obligation to dogs, once we made the decision 12KYA to selectively breed feral wolves into a domesticated subspecies that enjoys:
    • Being part of our huge mixed-species "pack",
    • Letting one of the bipeds be the alpha,
    • Eating cooked and packaged food instead of freshly killed meat,
    • And spending most of their time playing and entertaining us instead of running across the landscape hunting prey.
    And of course the bonus is that with the effects of 18,000 generations of unnatural selection on their psychological makeup, dogs don't really regard this as constraint, the way our children do. They're well adapted to civilization and to their role in it.

    Probably better than some of us are.

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  19. spidergoat pubic diorama Valued Senior Member

    By definition, yes. If you don't care about your fellow man, then you aren't moral. Your question might be better phrased, why should we be moral?
  20. rodereve Registered Member

    That doesn't discount my point, does it?

    Sorry, that line was entirely sarcastic. Re-read it, I think you'll see.
    This thread is about caring about your fellow man, and you're saying that gun violence is somehow a completely different topic? Maybe you're the one having trouble seeing the relevance.
  21. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    Thirty thousand Americans are killed by gun violence every year. With the steady advances in automotive safety, guns have surpassed road accidents in the list of leading causes of death.

    We can hardly say that we care about our fellow man until we start melting down all those damn guns.
  22. river

    The more we help , the better off Humanity is

    Just provide the help that you can

    It can and does make you happy when you make someone happy

    Its an old song , but I just like it , it rings true
  23. LaurieAG Registered Senior Member

    I suppose your moral responsibility boils down to how well you know the Golden Rule and your sense of reciprocity.

    Many cultures also have their own folk stories like the Irish Fear gorta and the Soup Stone.
    The Silver rule is the contra positive of the Golden Rule.

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