The first of these annoyed me to the point where I nearly didn't finish it, so I'm well over my threshold for wanting to talk back. But perhaps it's better to approach the same topic myself, without any footnotes to philosophers, and minimal jargon. And instead of surveying the field, I'm going to talk about what I believe, and why. Perhaps I'll make no more sense than the average undergraduate in Philosophy 101, but I have hopes to do a bit better than that.
As is perhaps obvious from the title, the topic was the degree to which humans have a moral responsibility to assist other humans, in particular to alleviate suffering.
This is a thorny mess. I think we can take the following as given:
So, the thesis of part one of this podcast series was basically that each of us individually has a responsibility to help anyone who needs it, with only practicality as a limit. This reminds me rather a lot of the role assigned to females in my birth culture, which is perhaps why I got so angry. Or maybe the anger was due to dysfunctional acquaintances, the kind that are perpetually needy, whether or not legitimately. Or maybe it was due to growing up undiagnosed Aspie, and learning that most of what seemed like needs to me (quietness, down time, etc.) were in fact merely "wants", and "selfish" wants at that ... just as the predictable meltdowns resulting from not having those needs met were themselves the results of "selfishness," "inconsiderateness," "lack of self control," etc. etc. (My life got so much better when I became old enough that I was allowed to control its rhythms, and expected to spend time being quiet and attentive :-()
Whatever the cause, I react really badly to the general idea of being responsible for addressing whatever problems anyone in the world may be having. At the same time, life really sucks for a lot of people. And there are emergencies, where I'm inclined to feel that any bystander who notices ought to intervene. It seems to me that turning a blind eye on major suffering is wrong. But at the same time, I don't accept that we all have a duty to devote our lives to relieving it.
And that's where we get to part 2 of the series. From where I sit, the responsibility for righting major inequities, etc. is collective. We're doing it very badly these days, both within nations and within the world. "Austerity" is such a great reason to cut benefits of all kinds, locally, not to mention foreign aid. We weren't doing it very well even before the recent problems, mind you. And even when we tried, aid wasn't always useful or relevant, and didn't always reach those needing it. Sometimes it wound up enriching those who definitely didn't need it.
Part 2, IIRC, basically agreed with this - and then kind of wandered around in circles, describing problems but not concluding much of anything. Of course that's how this radio show intends to work - it's called "Ideas" for a reason ;-)
So where do I weigh in?
This mini-essay needs a conclusion, but I think I've said most of what I'm clear about. I could go into the problems of helping people who are victimized by others, particularly those living in kleptocratic or warlord states. But the only thing I can see to do in those cases is to allow more or less unlimited immigration - while at the same time somehow enforcing enough acculturation that the immigrants don't perpetrate similar polities in their new homes. (The same applies to people victimized as a class, such as women, only more so.) Sending in troops to overthrow the warlords, remove the kleptocrats, etc. is pretty much certain to create even worse problems than those they are intended to solve. Though I suppose if 90% of a country managed to abandon its leaders through emigration, a case could be made for neighbours forcibly claiming 90% of its land area for immigrant resettlement :-( (I think that's tongue-in-cheek.)
I could also go into the "tragedy of the commons" phenomenon, particularly with regard to global warming. Or I could go into the question of moral responsibilties to non-humans; I think it's pretty clear that there's a level of ill treatment of animals that's immoral for similar reasons to ill treatment of humans, and similar moral responsbility to do something about it. But I don't think these will illuminate the basic question, just muddy it.
So here it is. Locore's beliefs about assistance to the needy and prevention/remediation of human suffering. Enjoy :-)
This entry was originally posted at http://locore.dreamwidth.org/2604.html.