West Coast Publishing 2011 LD Moral Obligation

Resolved: Individuals have a moral obligation to assist people in need.
Hanne Jensen Whitman College


West Coast Publishing 2011 LD Moral Obligation

Summarized Topic Description Individuals have a moral obligation to assist people in need.
This topic, more than most Lincoln-Douglas resolutions, will depend very much on how the affirmative and negative choose to define the separate words in the resolution. More likely than not, debates on this topic will whittle down to what are individuals rights and responsibilities as human beings and as members of a society. Legally, there is little doubt that most places in the world do not require any action to be taken by individuals for the pure benefit of others, which is why this question falls into the moral spectrum. Understanding what constitutes morality and a moral obligation is difficult because morality means different things to different people. The various religions and cultures which compromise America, much less the world, show clearly how people s difference of opinions on the matter of what is right and wrong can show through their laws and customs. In order for a resolution such as this to have any weight as a moral maxim, it should be universal. This poses a dilemma because of the disagreements on the matter. In addition, the potentially (but not explicitly) limiting term of individuals allows for a variety of interpretations. Individuals could mean persons acting solely individually or individuals contributing to a group or organization in order to accomplish assistance on a larger scale. It could be argued that the use of the world individuals in the resolution means the exclusion of government or organizational involvement (that individuals rather than groups have this moral obligation) or merely that individuals must have an involvement in the process, as there is no overt mention of mutual exclusivity. Determining the need of people can be tricky: in order to establish that a person is in need requires that either the person in question consider themselves to be in need or that a third party observes them and deigns them to have a need. Both possibilities pose a problem for the affirmative and negative as one would mean that only people able to freely accept and express their need would be considered able to accept assistance, and the other would allow for the imposition of alien values and judgments on people who may not want, understand, or even need their assistance. The very concept of assistance is riddled with its own problems as it does not specify whether or not a person is required to make a substantial difference in the lives of people in need. Assistance could mean a comprehensive and permanent solution to a need or it could mean a small but well-intentioned gesture of good will. Clearly, both the negative and the affirmative debaters have their work cut out for them as far as interpreting and defining the resolution before even debating its merits and shortcomings. The affirmative debater would be best served by focusing on the natural equality of all people and the ability of almost all individuals to do something to help those in need. Keeping the expansive term assistance down to helping others help themselves or mitigating extremely forceful pressures on the needy as well as interpreting people loosely, allowing it to be persons the individuals know or come into contact with daily life would make it difficult for the negative to argue that there are not moral obligations to do small generosities. The affirmative could successfully argue that it is more important for the individual to become involved with the fabric of humankind in a positive way than it is to solve every major world problem. In contrast, the negative should argue that while it is laudable for individuals to assist others in their community and elsewhere that people have no moral obligations to assist others; the very reason that it is a good thing to do and praiseworthy is because it is going above and beyond what is required. Additionally, the negative has the ability to make many arguments of how individual involvement with be either ineffective or even counterproductive to the overall goal of assisting the needy. The negative would do well to take the side of consequentialism, that all the good intentions in the world won t necessarily evoke any real change in the landscape of the modern world; it is more important to cause change than it is to have an ethically motivated populace. Once the angles of the debate are established, it will (as usual) come down to the values. Not getting too bogged down in advantages or disadvantages to practical implementation of either case, truly hammering home the values


West Coast Publishing 2011 LD Moral Obligation

will be the key to success in a large number of rounds. Make sure they are clearly defined, weighed, and impacted out throughout the entire speech.

Merriam-Webster (http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/individual) a particular being or thing as distinguished from a class, species, or collection: as (1) : a single human being as contrasted with a social group or institution <a teacher who works with individuals> (2) : a single organism as distinguished from a group Bing Dictionary (http://www.bing.com/Dictionary/search?q=define+individual&FORM=DTPDIA) 1. specific person: a specific person, distinct from others in a group "belief in the individual's right to self-expression" 2. any person: a human being, or a person of a specified type "a panel consisting of four individuals" "a very unfortunate individual" 3. separate thing: a separate entity or thing 4. [biology] separate organism: an independent organism separate from a group "The plant part contains the embryo, which gives rise to a new individual." Although individuals is clearly not the most contentious term in the resolution, it is important to decide whether or not to emphasize that individual is separate from a group. If so, the Merriam-Webster definition is probably the best bet, but if the desired goal is to not draw attention to potential mutual exclusivity arguments, it may be preferable to go with Bing s second definition.

Moral obligation
The Electric Law Library (http://www.lectlaw.com/def2/m142.htm) A duty which one owes, and which he ought to perform, but which he is not legally bound to fulfil.These obligations are of two kinds 1st. Those founded on a natural right; as, the obligation to be charitable, which can never be enforced by law. 2d. Those which are supported by a good or valuable antecedent consideration; as, where a man owes a debt barred by the act of limitations, this cannot be recovered by law, though it subsists in morality and conscience; but if the debtor promise to pay it, the moral obligation is a sufficient consideration for the promise, and the creditor may maintain an action of assumpsit, to recover the money.

Bing Dictionary (http://www.bing.com/dictionary/search?q=definition of moral &qpvt=definition+of+moral+&FORM=Z7FD) 1. involving right and wrong: relating to issues of right and wrong and to how individual people should behave 2. derived from personal conscience: based on what somebody's conscience suggests is right or wrong, rather than on what rules or the law says should be done 3. according to common standard of justice: regarded in terms of what is known to be right or just, as opposed to what is officially or outwardly declared to be right or just "a moral victory."


thefreedictionary. gratitude owed: something that somebody owes in return for something given.merriam-webster. If. People Merriam-Webster (http://www. it also will take less time to explain in a round. especially as a subordinate or supplement. use the verb in the transitive form. the use of assist in the resolution implies a transitive grammatical structure anyway.com/assist) To give help or support to.g.West Coast Publishing 2011 LD Moral Obligation 4.bing.com/dictionary/people) 1. assistance or a favor 4. Needless to say.merriam-webster. plural : human beings. plural : the mass of a community as distinguished from a special class <disputes between the people and the nobles> often used by Communists to distinguish Communists from other people 4 . Technically. persons often used in compounds instead of persons <salespeople> often used attributively <people skills> 3. Assist Merriam-Webster (http://www. 6. [law] legal contract: a legal document such as a mortgage or bond that contains the terms of an obligation. usually including a penalty for failing to fulfill it Included here together are the definitions of moral obligation. For arguments requiring that assistance be considered generic help of any size. plural : the members of a family or kinship 4. and obligation. using the verb in the intransitive form is preferable. e. when judged by the standards of the average person or society at large able to tell right from wrong: able to distinguish right from wrong and to make decisions based on that knowledge based on personal conviction: based on an inner conviction.com/Dictionary/search?q=definition+of+obligation&form=QB) 1. moral. Her breathing was assisted by a respirator. the case is constructed so to have significant debate into what constitutes a moral action or what an obligation is.com/dictionary/assist?show=0&t=1310331776) transitive verb: to give usually supplementary support or aid to <assisted the boy with his lessons> intransitive verb: to give support or aid <assisted at the stove> <another surgeon assisted on the operation> The Free Dictionary (http://www. aid: The clerk assisted the judge by looking up related precedents. encouraging goodness and decency: giving guidance on how to behave decently and honorably good by accepted standards: good or right. state of being obligated: the state of being under a moral or legal duty to do something 3. The first definition of the combined terms is probably the most useful as it considers both terms in relation to each other as opposed to separately. duty: something that must be done because of legal or moral duty 2. 5. [law] binding legal agreement: a legal agreement by which somebody is bound to do something. plural : human beings making up a group or assembly or linked by a common interest 2. it might be advisable to define each word individually. however. For arguments that assistance would be used supplementally. especially pay a specified amount of money 5. in the absence of physical proof "moral certainty" Obligation Bing Dictionary (http://www. 7.

there should be a reason before the definition is employed as such. 6. 5 . (n. 4. If.com/dictionary/need?show=0&t=1310333064) 1. (n. nobles and people. like on in French. and that often constitute a politically organized group lower animals usually of a specified kind or situation the body of enfranchised citizens of a state thinkexist. Need Merriam-Webster (http://www. the commonalty. an indefinite number of men and women.com (http://dictionary. The familial definitions can be useful for justifications of special obligation but otherwise.com/browse/need) 1. or race. Merriam-Webster s second definition is probably the most accurate definition in the context of the resolution. as. the populace. (n. tradition. relations. -. people in adversity. 3. country people. as. 2. necessary duty.sometimes used as an indefinite subject or verb. my people were English. 3. (n. urgent want. a lack of something wanted or deemed necessary: to fulfill the needs of the assignment. Avoid using MW s definitions #3-6 and thinkexist s #1. lack of the means of subsistence : poverty Dictionary. followers. 7. desirable. however. the vulgar. as. fellow citizens. it may be preferable to use one of the other more directed definitions. as there is no clear mention of possessives in the resolution. 5.) The body of persons who compose a community. plural peoples : a body of persons that are united by a common culture. as of something requisite: He has no need of your charity. the goal is to argue that a need is something specific. a community.) One's ancestors or family. a condition requiring supply or relief 3.) The mass of comunity as distinguished from a special class. generally. or sense of kinship.com (http://thinkexist. a nation. or part of population. or useful b : a physiological or psychological requirement for the well-being of an organism 2. and beliefs.West Coast Publishing 2011 LD Moral Obligation 5. companions. an aggregate of individuals forming a whole. folks.reference. a requirement. and man in German. the common crowd.merriam-webster. as. 2. etc. or obligation: There is no need for you to go there. be it food or biological necessities as opposed to an emotional state of contentment.com/dictionary/meaning/people/) 1. nation. tribe. population.) One's subjects. kindred. There are a surprising number of definitions of the term people. that typically have common language. 3-5 unless there is a clear purpose for attributing people to a specific group. institutions. (n.) Persons. a : a lack of something requisite.

Because of this fact.org/depweb/english/beyond/global/glossary. But in the modern world poverty.worldbank. group. <http://wordnetweb. Value Quality of Life "Glossary. everyone benefits and a higher standard of living and quality of life is achieved for all. and other compromising circumstances are making the likelihood that all people are living at an acceptable standard shrink away. Quality of life is difficult to measure (whether for an individual. as a starting point for possible additions. Web. or even just as an example. If everyone were completely self sufficient. . 2004 People's overall well-being. every possession." Princeton Wordnet 3. <http://www. national security.Rockefeller Jr Everyone has the ability to help and if everyone does their part. natural disasters. Each person has a duty to help with what then can when they can. however: when the overall needs of the community are addressed. life itself is meaningless. every opportunity. Value Criterion Individual Responsibility "Wordnet. Web. and political and economic freedoms.1. World Bank. hunger. By assisting people in need.princeton. their needs aided. Because of this. or nation) because in addition to material well-being (see standard of living) it includes such intangible components as the quality of the environment.John D. is not a hospitable world for anyone.html>. this would not be a problem." The World Bank Group. 2011. They are not the only ones who will benefit. individuals have a moral obligation to assist people in need. a duty". (the social force that 6 . their quality of life will be improved because a wrong will be righted. personal safety. Advocating individual responsibility is the only way that the quality of life can be raised to its fullest potential. an obligation.edu/perl/webwn?s=responsibility =Search+WordNet&o2=&o0=1&o8=1&o1=1&o7=&o5=&o9=&o6=&o3=&o4 =&h=>. tight-knit communities become rarer and rarer. A world where there can be no trust in other people. Introduction As the world grows more populous. it is the first thing that should be valued.West Coast Publishing 2011 LD Moral Obligation Affirmative Case Here is an example affirmative case which may be used as it is constructed. 10 Jul 2011. It is becoming more of an individually focused world where no one owes anything to anyone but themselves. Princeton University. binds you to the courses of action demanded by that force) "we must instill a sense of duty in our children". "every right implies a responsibility. no possibility of shared experience in life with other people. 10 Jul 2011. Without quality of life. then everyone will reap the benefits.

The Atlantic. that what is good for the individual will be good for the community and what doesn't matter when it happens to one person won't matter if it happens to many.com/ideastour/archive/windows. The merchant asks them to move." We suggest that "untended" behavior also leads to the breakdown of community controls. emboldened. an inebriate slumps to the sidewalk and is allowed to sleep it off. Adults stop scolding rowdy children. Internationally acclaimed social and political commentary periodical. Individual apathy on matters of communal interest will create discord. famous broken windows theory proves. Without assistance by individuals. and confidently frown on unwanted intruders can change. Within a few hours. apparently clean-cut whites.theatlantic.theatlantic. passersby were joining in. The car in the Bronx was attacked by "vandals" within ten minutes of its "abandonment.html We have difficulty thinking about such matters. virtually everything of value had been removed. A piece of property is abandoned. become more rowdy. If people are wholly self-centric. flight--may ultimately make matters worse for everyone. parts torn off. But in cases where behavior that is tolerable to one person is intolerable to many others. Children began to use the car as a playground. in time. Soon. The opposite holds true as well: when people are invested in other people in the world. A society that is not aware of itself as a group where individuals can affect the well-beings of others is one that will slowly deteriorate. weeds grow up. where people have come to believe that private possessions are cared for. mind each other's children. punishes his behavior and is applied by that officer because of this harm. Fights occur. Then random destruction began--windows were smashed. they refuse. Teenagers gather in front of the corner store. 7 . and young son--who removed the radiator and battery. Within twenty-four hours. The law defines my rights." The first to arrive were a family--father. reported in 1969 on some experiments testing the brokenwindow theory. upholstery ripped. The car in Palo Alto sat untouched for more than a week. communities deteriorate A. Litter accumulates. the "vandals" appeared to be primarily respectable whites.com/ideastour/archive/windows. Families move out. The Atlantic. Untended property becomes fair game for people out for fun or plunder and even for people who ordinarily would not dream of doing such things and who probably consider themselves law-abiding. bonds are formed which are symbiotically beneficial. Then Zimbardo smashed part of it with a sledgehammer. Because of the nature of community life in the Bronx--its anonymity. the past experience of "no one caring"--vandalism begins much more quickly than it does in staid Palo Alto. March 1982 http://www. the reactions of the others-fear. March 1982 http://www. a Stanford psychologist. unattached adults move in. those are plausible assumptions. Again.West Coast Publishing 2011 LD Moral Obligation Contention One: Without individual investment. Taking other persons wants and needs into consideration when deciding what our actions will be is the only way to make a truly cohesive society that will benefit everyone. People start drinking in front of the grocery.html Philip Zimbardo. nothing can be accomplished and no progress can be made. the children. But vandalism can occur anywhere once communal barriers--the sense of mutual regard and the obligations of civility--are lowered by actions that seem to signal that "no one cares. Pedestrians are approached by panhandlers. California. withdrawal. B. Ordinarily. including the individual who first professed his indifference. the car had been turned upside down and utterly destroyed. communities will deteriorate. to an inhospitable and frightening jungle. not simply because the ethical and legal issues are so complex but because we have become accustomed to thinking of the law in essentially individualistic terms. the frequency with which cars are abandoned and things are stolen or broken. A stable neighborhood of families who care for their homes. Internationally acclaimed social and political commentary periodical. in thinking this way. in a few years or even a few months. We assume. mother. Most of the adult "vandals" were well-dressed. and that mischievous behavior is costly. a window is smashed. He arranged to have an automobile without license plates parked with its hood up on a street in the Bronx and a comparable automobile on a street in Palo Alto.

West Coast Publishing 2011 LD Moral Obligation C.. UNDP. objective measures include indices of economic production. subjective measures can also tap the perceived significance of the domain (or need ) to the respondent. It is also clear that these so-called objective measures are actually proxies for experience identified through subjective associations of decision-makers. hence the distinction between QOL gain their impetus. Quality of life includes a semblance of connections between people. individual care must be taken. In addition. Diener and Suh (1999) provide convincing evidence that subjective indicators are valid measures of what people perceive to be important to their happiness and well-being. Rather than presume the importance of various life domains (e. Merely reaching out is assisting those in need. etc. Robert Costanza et al. Objective indicators may be used singly or in combination to form summary indexes. opportunity-biased. While these measurements may provide a snapshot of how well some physical and social needs are met. Thus economic production may best be seen as a means to a potentially (but not necessarily) improved QOL rather than an end in itself. participation. from the observation that many objective indicators merely assess the opportunities that individuals have to improve QOL rather than assessing QOL itself. 1985. Subjective indicators of Action by governments and organizations are not enough to create true improvement in quality of life. well-being or some other near-synonym. and psychological security. happiness. Individual participation in communities and societies helps to improve quality of life. various leaders in the field of Anthropology. in part. Individual action. such as the UN s Human Development Index (Sen. they are narrow. life expectancy or material goods). because quality of life is not limited to just the basic physical needs that comprise standards of living. and other data that can be gathered without directly surveying the individuals being assessed. subjective measures typically rely on survey or interview tools to gather respondents own assessments of their lived experiences in the form of self-reports of satisfaction. life expectancy. 8 . literacy rates. Sociology. 1998).g. December 2008 For example. and cannot incorporate many issues that contribute to QOL such as identity. unlike most objective measures of QOL. psychological and emotional well being. objective and subjective indicators is somewhat illusory.

whitman.edu:2048/ehost/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?sid=7e70c8c7-36fa-47fa-ac65e76d59278270%40sessionmgr113&vid=2&hid=111 In other words.com/hy/5i.philosophypages. Kant maintained.htm Constrained only by the principle of universalizability. duty results from the fact of occupying a position of responsibility.West Coast Publishing 2011 LD Moral Obligation Contention Two: Obligation is limited to ability and required of all A. based on the nature that they are both people. Olufemu Badru." That is. both are contributing.ezproxy. Whether it is a billionaire donating substantial sums to a charitable organization or a child sharing a piece of her sandwich with a homeless person. B. from the foregoing. Obligation is a relationship between a person and another. contributor to the online philosophical dictionary philosophypages. Nigeria. Moral obligation does not depend on a certain position an individual occupies in life.com. and they don t have to (nor should they) go beyond their means to do so. duty is a certain job of value expected of a person who occupies the position. Moral obligations do not arise from people earning or losing certain rights.com. by its decision to act in a certain way. University of Ibadan. The fact is.ebscohost. The difference between duty and obligation is that duty is something expected of a person because of who they are or what they are capable of doing. Kant instructs that the practical construction of morals insists that they must be universalizable. that everyone (including itself) will always act according to the same general rule in the future. each individual agent regards itself as determining. provides a concrete. everyone can assist those in need. 2003 http://www. December 2009 http://web. It would be unreasonable to argue that some people should contribute and some should not. practical method for evaluating particular human actions of several distinct varieties. Garth Kemerling. Ibadan. Department of Philosophy. the practical reason of any rational being understands the categorical imperative to be: "Act only according to that maxim whereby you can at the same time will that it should become a universal law. This expression of the moral law. the point is that while obligation results from contract-like relations or simply contractarianism between the self and the other. 9 .

ebscohost. we are the Bad Samaritan.edu:2048/ehost/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?sid=7e70c8c7-36fa-47fa-ac65e76d59278270%40sessionmgr113&vid=2&hid=111 Kant s conception consists in the right of a stranger not to be treated in a hostile manner by another upon his arrival on the other s territory. Surgeon University of Florida School of Medecine. which stands in the way of improving the lives of the needy. RJ Howard. Often we will only help those people we are close to. This is our responsibility as individuals. A bad samaritan is a stranger standing in no special relationship to the endangered party. all deserve to be treated with equal respect. The bad Samaritan is morally reprehensible. Olufemu Badru. Nigeria. Some countries in Europe even have laws against the bad samaritan who fails to undertake easy rescue.edu:2048/ehost/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?sid=d03cba5c-eff1-4dd9-b7e2891a9cba96c4%40sessionmgr104&vid=2&hid=111 Ross suggests that the obligations of beneficence rest on the mere fact that there are other beings in the world whose condition we can make better . and this hospitable treatment is to continue so long as the stranger behaves peacefully.ezproxy. This is the problem of special obligation. even persons we do not know. MD. Special obligation is irrelevant. in the society of his host.whitman. I believe he would agree that we have an obligation to benefit others.West Coast Publishing 2011 LD Moral Obligation Contention Three: Special obligation is destructive to living in modern society A. who omits to do something warn of unperceived peril. August 2006 http://web. University of Ibadan. undertake rescue.com. Whether a person is our neighbor or lives a million miles away.ezproxy. December 2009 http://web.com. RJ Howard.whitman. Ibadan. our moral obligation to improve the quality of life by assisting people in need. B. C.whitman. 10 . August 2006 http://web. We have a responsibility to do what we can if it does not create an unreasonable cost or risk to ourselves or others. Department of Philosophy.ezproxy.ebscohost. or an increased risk of harm and for these reasons the omitter is bad (morally blameworthy) . notify police.edu:2048/ehost/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?sid=d03cba5c-eff1-4dd9-b7e2891a9cba96c4%40sessionmgr104&vid=2&hid=111 Feinberg would characterize one who refuses permission to recover organs as a bad samaritan . If we see that something is wrong and do not try to make it better when we have the capacity to do so. MD. protect against further injury [provide organs from deceased individuals] for the endangered party. seek aid. whether they are citizens or foreigners. as a result of which the other party suffers harm. which he could have done without unreasonable cost or risk to himself or others. Surgeon University of Florida School of Medecine.com.ebscohost. Persons have a right to be treated with respect regardless of their place of origin. Founding his justification on the right of common possession of the surface of the earth. or whose well being directly affects us. we have an obligation to help strangers just as much as those we know.

1. though. to promote interpersonal relationships. Value Freedom "Wordnet. In order to have truly free individuals. 10 Jul 2011. http://wordnetweb. an inherently immoral act to begin with. Web." Princeton Wordnet 3. No person owes another anything just by nature of being alive. There is no dispute about that.com/browse/autonomy independence or freedom. and justice. To claim otherwise would be to nullify basic concepts such as freedom. as of the will or one's actions: the autonomy of the individual. Now and throughout history.West Coast Publishing 2011 LD Moral Obligation Negative Introduction It is not unique to the modern condition that there are people in need all around the world. much less live happily and contentedly. otherwise any agency is removed from the question and the discussion of moral obligation of individual action is moot. capable of making their own decision with their own free will. It is with this in mind that I argue individuals have no moral obligation to assist people in need. the power to act or speak or think without externally imposed restraints Freedom is a prerequisite to individuals having any individual power whatsoever. To determine what obligations an individual has. Value Criterion Autonomy Dictionary.com online dictionary 2011 http://dictionary. Anything less would be a result of coercion of the exertion of one will onto another s. A clarification must be made. they must be autonomous.edu/perl/webwn?s=freedom the condition of being free. 11 . it is not required. While it is indeed formidable for one person to help another. 2011. they must first be considered free actors. autonomy. there have been times when people have had to rely on each other survive.princeton.reference. Princeton University.

Laudable as this principle might have otherwise been. its central defect lies in the supererogatory implication. Olufemu Badru. Even though this seems somewhat contradictory. The moral obligation to assist others is limited to not causing harm to ourselves. As stated in the earlier part of this work. While it is commendable to assist the distant needy. Surgeon University of Florida School of Medecine. Although people in need may indeed have a right to receive aid. Peter Singer separates preventing evil from promoting good and contends if it is in our power to prevent something bad from happening. there is no obligation for individuals to give that aid.ezproxy. A. to do it . For a person to give beyond their means or to negatively affect their ability to give in the future would be counterproductive to the very nature of aid. there is no way to claim any specific appropriate amount. Because they are not obligated to give anything. The principle grants a duty that does not morally obligate society of peoples to help the distant needy in those burdened societies. the recipients of the assistance from the society of peoples are deprived of any moral right to make a morally binding demand on the society of people if they fail to fulfill this duty of assistance. Nigeria.edu:2048/ehost/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?sid=7e70c8c7-36fa-47fa-ac65e76d59278270%40sessionmgr113&vid=2&hid=111 Although it is the last in the listing of the principles that under pin the society of peoples. MD. Slote argues that one has an obligation to prevent serious evil or harm when one can do so without seriously interfering with one·s life plans or style and without doing any wrongs of commission . it is supererogatory.ezproxy. there is no call for people to give in a way that will negatively affect them. we ought. it is not required.whitman.West Coast Publishing 2011 LD Moral Obligation Contention One: Individuals do not have a moral obligation to assist others. University of Ibadan. Thus . August 2006 http://web.edu:2048/ehost/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?sid=d03cba5c-eff1-4dd9-b7e2891a9cba96c4%40sessionmgr104&vid=2&hid=111 In developing his thoughts about the obligation to assist . To further the point. it is a question of moral obligation for separate individuals and groups. it is the only principle that shows that the society of peoples owes anything at all to the distant other in the sense of positive action to bring the peoples in the burdened societies out of their problems.whitman. B. People assisting those in need is laudable. Ibadan. RJ Howard. What it allows to get to those needy peoples is just humanitarian services. people are not morally obligated to do so.ebscohost. 12 . morally.com. without thereby sacrificing anything of comparable moral importance.com. Department of Philosophy. December 2009 http://web.ebscohost. the duty of assistance is very important to Rawl s internationalism.

ezproxy. PhD in Philosophy Flinders University and PH Henning. thus compromising their freedom. There seems to be no rational way of securing moral agreement in our culture. But we have very largely if not entirely lost our comprehension.whitman. The most striking feature of contemporary moral debates is that they apparently can find no terminus. In the theoretical case. model here is one of recognition.umi. A.com.com. The ongoing debate concerning the morality of immorality of abortion is a clear example of this lack of agreement or spectrum of views.ezproxy. B. The we ought to exercise our autonomous judgment about what to believe. not an externally advocated obligation. A successful account of moral integrity and moral responsibility. To impose a moral obligation on someone against their will would undermine their autonomy. independently of anything about ourselves. The liberties we give up in order to live in a certain societies are exempt from this rule because they are sacrificed by the choice of the individual.com.ebscohost. Ana Iltis. no single sense of moral obligation is available. It is permissible to act in the interests of a person in a situation where they are deemed incompetent to make a decision.whitman. Australia.edu:2048/Direct. the only way it can be determined is on an individual basis.edu:2048/ehost/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?sid=6a64c405-eba3-4b9f-a4d3e99c550494e8%40sessionmgr113&vid=2&hid=111 If we are going to override someone s autonomy the general view is that we should have very good reasons before doing so. There are significant disputes concerning the moral and legal permissibility of abortion.We possess indeed simulacra of morality. and so the role of our will must be to subordinate itself to our best judgments about the nature of the object. of morality. both theoretical and practical. our thoughts are necessarily directed towards objects beyond ourselves. An individual s autonomy is key to their freedom. Absent a universal understanding of morality.edu:2048/pqdweb?index=0&did=575822021&SrchMode=1&sid=1&Fmt=10&VInst=PROD&VType=P QD&RQT=309&VName=PQD&TS=1310274871&clientId=48453 The multiplicity of autonomous selves do not sustain a single standard of morality.whitman. Center for Health Care Ethics. Saint Louis University. but just as certainly we ought to believe what we judge to be true. incompetency to make decisions must be determined. December 2005 http://web. No moral obligation be universal in our culture. cannot be universal but must be situated in a particular context.ebsco. Individuals should judge what they deem to be morally right and then act accordingly Larry Krasnoff. Certainly Moral obligations must be the results of our reasoning and judgments. If that happens to coincide with the reasoning and judgments of everyone else in the world.ezproxy.asp?AccessToken=5WN4444TRZPSQYJJW66BQSUPZYPBTRN69U&Show=Object Of course we ought to do what we judge to be good. then of course we should do what we deem to be good. MD Women s and Children s Hospital. One such reason would be if the person were deemed incompetent to make a decision. C. therefore. October 2010 http://ejournals. Before autonomy can be usurped. we continue to use many of the key expressions. There 13 . Professor of Philosophy at College of Charleston South Carolina. and of course we ought to do it because of its goodness. 2003 http://proquest. MacIntyre argues that we possess the fragments of a conceptual scheme . drawn without fundamental alteration from the case of belief. TL Zutlevics.West Coast Publishing 2011 LD Moral Obligation Contention Two: Competent individuals have the right to make their own decisions. But it is a decision that must be arrived at from within. and therefore should not be mitigated by others.

so saying that every individual has the same moral obligation (to assist those in need) is laughable.West Coast Publishing 2011 LD Moral Obligation appears to be no framework within which we may justifiably assert that all individuals are morally obligated in particular ways beyond a limited set of side constraints we may recognize as universal. We may understand particular individuals as having particular obligations only with an appreciation of their moral characters and moral integrity. we each have different views of what constitutes moral action. 14 . It nevertheless is the case that we routinely wish to attribute moral obligations to individuals and to understand the moral obligations particular persons bear. and moral integrity is the mechanism by which we can evaluate the extent to which they satisfy the obligations. Only individual morality can exist. even this round). politics. As each person experiences reality in a very different way and holds different values in higher esteem than others (examples include religion. The concept of universal morality is an illusion. Moral character allows us to attribute moral obligations.

By individually assisting the needy. but cannot solve for corrupt governments. people will lose the desire to affect real collective social reform and no real change will happen. 1914). then the effort put into charity might be better devoted to pressuring governments to bring about needed change. Not only will benefits that only the government can offer be cut. they will assume their moral obligation has been fulfilled (and in some interpretations. This will cause a complete stagnation of social reform and the change needs to happen as advocated by the affirmative. it has). For by spending it on luxury.West Coast Publishing 2011 LD Moral Obligation Contention Three: Mass individual giving is harmful to social reform A. governments will stop sending as much assistance so that they may afford to help in other areas. An influx in charity spending results in a certain area.shtml This isn't a new argument: It is more socially injurious for the millionaire to spend his surplus wealth in charity than in luxury. applied to heal suffering arising from defective arrangements of society. serves to weaken the personal springs of social reform. but governments will cease to be pressured as heavily to effect real change. C. 2011 http://www. people are creating an endless cycle of the very problems they are trying to prevent. It substitutes the idea and the desire of individual reform for those of social reform. leaving large problems to individual assistance. If individual aid shifts.co.which might involve a complex rethink of the way the world organises its economic relationships. For every act of charity. and by the softening influence it exercises on the hearts and heads of those who witness it. Individuals do not have the capability to change the world alone. When aid is given to a certain area of need by individuals. Not only will individuals be less passionate about assisting the needy. or genocides. B. the government will cut spending to areas that need it.uk/ethics/charity/against_1. If that is so. 15 . failing economies. BBC Ethics Guide. Charitable giving distracts from the real problem and PREVENTS opportunities for lasting change. he chiefly injures himself and his immediate circle. alike by the 'miraculous' relief it brings to the individual 'case' that is relieved. (J A Hobson. and extra benefits provided by the charity spend are reduced. and large-scale government initiatives to change people's conditions. the area they were supporting will be left with nothing. Work and Wealth. but also the stability of aid will be compromised. 2011 http://www. If the charity sector increases spending in an area also funded by government then there is a risk that government will choose to spend less in that area with the result that governments save money. BBC Ethics Guide.uk/ethics/charity/against_1.co.shtml Indeed charitable giving may even distract from finding the best solution . And governments might be more likely to focus on dealing with poverty if they weren't being helped by charities.bbc. and so weakens the capacity for collective self-help in society. If people are satiated by donating their five dollars a month to the AIDS foundation. 2011 http://www. Larger action is needed to solve the root problems.uk/ethics/charity/against_1.shtml The argument goes something like this.bbc.bbc. By attempting to fix the effects of injustice without addressing the cause. they may affect some changes on the micro scale. but by spending it in charity he inflicts a graver injury upon society.co. stagnating growth. BBC Ethics Guide.

our actions often validate the arguments against helping those in need.ezproxy. German philosopher. how could one possibly reject the idea that we have a moral obligation to help? In truth. political and philosophical commentary website. 2011 http://www. following from the first point.ebscohost. these moral concerns are broadly sharable. i." When reading the title of this article. Department of Philosophy. over 500 Million The moral obligation to assist people in need transcends time. not for all people everywhere.e.ezproxy.whitman. culture. December 2009 http://web. Thus.edu:2048/stable/25115635?seq=2 Fourth. Fifth. all human beings have equal status: They have exactly the same human rights. and Latin America. many may think we do have an obligation to the less fortunate. At least.. Nigeria. Second.whitman. Perhaps no one is innocent. Sixth. Ibadan. in knowing that 15 Million children die from hunger each year.squidoo. In Asia. location. religion. they ought to be respected by all human agents irrespective of their particular epoch. Africa.com/worldhunger# people are living in what the World Bank has defined as "absolute poverty. capable of being understood and appreciated by persons from different epochs and cultures as well as by adherents of a variety of different religions.com. moral traditions. and culture. Jan-Mar 2000 http://www. and the moral significance of these rights and their fulfillment does not vary with whose human rights are at stake. Squidoo.. since this is outside its conceptual scope.West Coast Publishing 2011 LD Moral Obligation Affirmative Blocks Moral Obligations Don t Discriminate Against People Kant s claims only justify assistance to people living in the territory of the assister. University of Ibadan. and philosophies.edu:2048/ehost/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?sid=7e70c8c7-36fa-47fa-ac65e76d59278270%40sessionmgr113&vid=2&hid=111 First. moral tradition or philosophy. culture. the Kantian conception of universal hospitality does not. 16 . and can even not. Kantian universal hospitality should rather be rendered as domestic hospitality towards strangers/foreigners.com. Is our wealth maintained by the exploitation of the innocent throughout the world? Is poverty a natural phenomenon? At the very least. religion. the Kantian conception of universal hospitality only entail doing good to a stranger/foreigner when he is within the territory of the host. human rights express moral concerns that are unrestricted.e. we are all guilty of failing to break poverty's endless cycle. Yet. Thomas Pogge. The notions of unrestrictedness and broad sharability are related in that we tend to feel more confident about conceiving of a moral concern as unrestricted when this concern is not parochial to some particular epoch.jstor. each citizen of the world owes this issue great consideration. Everyone has an obligation to assist people living in absolute poverty. i. moral tradition or philosophy.org. Director of the Global Justice Program and Leitner Professor of Philosophy and International Affairs at Yale University. two points are deducible from Kan ts conception of universal hospitality. justify doing good in a morally obligatory way to a distant needy. with respect to these moral concerns. Olufemu Badru.

German philosopher. such as members of that group of persons affected by its behavior.ezproxy. obeying God. human rights express moral concerns that are unrestricted. which normally override other normative considerations. Third. Various nonconsequentialist views are that morality is all about doing one s duty. obeying nature. Fifth. all human beings have equal status: They have exactly the same human rights.e.West Coast Publishing 2011 LD Moral Obligation Individuals Are Necessary in Evaluating Moral Obligations Questions of morality are always ascribed to the individual. respecting rights. they ought to be respected by all human agents irrespective of their particular epoch. Professor at University of Hong Kong. Jan Narveson. or not interfering with others no matter the consequences. (In fact.jstor.. as all of them and they alone have human rights and the special moral status associated therewith. moral traditions. i.org. the opposite may hold: Conformity with human rights is a moral requirement on any legal order. being reasonable. Fourth. person to do? Individuals have a moral obligation to respect human rights. Thomas Pogge. respecting all people. culture. Sixth. moral tradition or philosophy. March 2006 http://www. i. and philosophies. not necessarily about what happens after. Jan-Mar 2000 http://www.whitman. Director of the Global Justice Program and Leitner Professor of Philosophy and International Affairs at Yale University. capable of being understood and appreciated by persons from different epochs and cultures as well as by adherents of a variety of different religions.e. culture. 17 . these moral concerns are broadly sharable. these moral concerns are focused on human beings. religion.edu:2048/stable/25115635?seq=2 Persons have a moral duty to respect human rights.edu/conseque/ Consequentialism is controversial.utm. a duty that does not derive from a more general moral duty to comply with national or international legal instruments.iep. human rights express weighty moral concerns. moral tradition or philosophy. those claims will say nothing to anyone unless there is some way of understanding that individuals. have duties or rights or some other moral status in relation to it. A2: Consequentialism Morality is about the duty. even if that means disregarding other considerations.) Second. that. whose capacity to create moral obligations depends in part on such conformity.ezproxy. religion.org.edu:2048/stable/25115724?seq=2 The question for morals is always and fundamentally cast in individual terms: what is this.whitman. and the moral significance of these rights and their fulfillment does not vary with whose human rights are at stake. with respect to these moral concerns.jstor. ethics philosopher. obeying one s own heart. actualizing one s own potential.. 2002 http://www. The notions of unrestrictedness and broad sharability are related in that we tend to feel more confident about conceiving of a moral concern as unrestricted when this concern is not parochial to some particular epoch. or the other If we think that there are things which groups should do. William Haines.

the significance of these other two options are routinely challenged.whitman. If I am right in this judgement. and not to leave a victim to shoulder the whole load. Jan-Mar 2000 The first understanding conceives human rights as moral rights that every human being has against every other human being or perhaps. we should impose it on the latter. Anthropology. or governments).ebscohost. more generally. and Sociology. rights that in addition impose positive duties (to protect and/or to aid).edu:2048/ehost/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?vid=2&hid=106&sid=ab3a18c7-0387-4711-aed1ca0914161581%40sessionmgr114 Two questions call for extra attention. Even though one innocently causes harm.ezproxy. or risk of harm. Gerhard Øverland. Given this understanding of human rights it matters greatly whether one then postulates human rights that impose only negative duties (to avoid depriving) or whether one instead postulates human A human right to freedom from assault might then give every human agent merely a weighty moral duty to refrain from assaulting any human being or also an additional weighty moral duty to help protect any human beings from assaults and their effects. Director of the Global Justice Program and Leitner Professor of Philosophy and International Affairs at Yale University. we have reason to believe that culpable bystanders may be subjected to substantial force to ensure they help protect people in need. I propose that in a choice between imposing cost on an innocent contributor and a culpable bystander. firms. namely to determine the significance of being an innocent contributor to harm and the significance of being a culpable bystander.com. such as groups.West Coast Publishing 2011 LD Moral Obligation Moral Obligations Require Doing Something Good. I argue that by merely being an innocent contributor to harm one acquires a duty to shoulder a fair share of the harm in question. one has a duty to shoulder a fifty percent of the harm. June 2008 http://web. I then go on to shed light on the significance of being a culpable bystander by evaluating situations in which we can choose between forcing contributors and bystanders. expert in Philosophy. Not Just Not Doing Something Bad We have moral duties not only to prevent from doing harm but also to take positive action. and no implications from being an innocent bystander. Thomas Pogge. against every other human agent (where this also includes collective agents. It is better to inadvertently cause harm while trying to help than to let current harm happen and do nothing. 18 . Because although it is uncontroversial to assume severe implications following from being a culpable contributor. German philosopher.

Etzioni appropriately emphasizes the need to balance autonomy with concern for order. Thus recast. THE BENEFITS OF THE COMMON GOOD ARE AVAILABLE TO EVERYONE Claire Andre and Manuel Velasquez. B. NQA. or whether we think it is good. How can communities best ensure that they promote human flourishing and well-being? The individual is no more fundamental or primary than the communities in which she is embedded. That is. In fact. so also maintaining the social conditions from which we all benefit requires the cooperative efforts of citizens. or any of our society's other common goods. the common good doe not just happen. But these efforts pay off. Center for Social Justice. All persons for example. often of many. Establishing and maintaining the common good requires the cooperative efforts of some. but what sort of community or communities we want. for the common good is a good to which all members of society have access.West Coast Publishing 2011 LD Moral Obligation HUMANS ARE MORALLY OBLIGATED TO CARE FOR THE GOOD OF OTHERS A. 357-358. As these examples suggest. since no one can live in complete isolation. Associate Professor of Law and Director. people. 19 . enjoy the benefits of clean air or an unpolluted environment. individuals are inevitably part of many communities . Any complete picture of human life must capture the individual embedded within those larger structures. but also from a collective vantage point. and the like. ethnic. something counts as a common good only to the extent that it is a good to which all have access. It is helpful to view the issue not only from the perspective of the individual. 2000. the issue becomes not whether we as individuals desire communal life. religious. Seton Hall University School of Law. 3. p. p. and from whose enjoyment no one can be easily excluded. ISSUES IN ETHICS. INDIVIDUALS ARE INEVITABLY PART OF COMMUNITIES AND MUST BE CONCERNED FOR OTHERS Linda Fisher.national. YALE LAW AND POLICY REVIEW. Just as keeping a park free of litter depends on each user picking up after himself. Spring 1992.

protecting the social order need not threaten individual rights that are necessary to encourage an optimal degree of individual autonomy. Consequently. 20 . Center for Social Justice. both politically and morally. 2000. 121. SOCIETY-BASED ETHICS DO NOT THREATEN INDIVIDUAL RIGHTS Linda Fisher. p. p. a commitment to constitutionalism. COMMUNITARIANISM INVOLVES A RESPONSIBILITY TO OTHERS Henry Tam. Chair of UK Communitarian Forum. of course. and therefore may recoil at Etzioni's prioritization of social order in a communitarian democracy. order need not be oppressive. Seton Hall University School of Law. adherence to fair procedures. Associate Professor of Law and Director. with constraints produced by recognition of individual rights. Therefore. 1998. a social order may exist that adequately recognizes and protects individual rights. COMMUNITARIANISM. as Etzioni repeatedly emphasizes. there are no grounds for denying that each individual is responsible for his or her behaviour and its effects on others (for a detailed exposition of the concept of responsibility. How individuals behave affects the well being of others. particularly the rights of less powerful members of society. 356. No citizen of an inclusive community can be allowed to entertain the delusion that responsibility cannot be properly ascribed in the world in which we live. and involuntary behaviour arising from the physical force of others or the psychological disruptions within a person. Order can merely refer to the collective determination of appropriate moral conduct and the preservation of public health and safety. 1990). Apart from genuine ignorance when there is no indication that a person should or could have found out about the unforeseen harm of his or her actions. In a constitutional democracy. see Tam. YALE LAW AND POLICY REVIEW. citizens may participate to define its content. The same concept can be rephrased as "the public interest.West Coast Publishing 2011 LD Moral Obligation COMMUNITARIANISM ADDRESSES THE NEEDS OF EVERYONE A. B. Central to the communitarian message is the notion of responsi¬bility. and a fundamental respect for others' subcultural values. Although many Americans are instinctively repelled by the notion of a social order that can trump individual preference." A decent community must. promote the well-being of its individual members .

that have traditionally functioned as foci of collective purposes. One of the most ardent Federalist judges. In particular. The private rewards and the formal freedoms have obscured from us how much we have lost in genuine democratic control of the society we live in. July 2001. ISSUES IN ETHICS. Samuel Chase. not of the public good. especially if one starts with middle class advantages. and perhaps also science and education. once leaders were elected. THE FOUNDING FATHERS VALUED THE COMMON GOOD ABOVE INDIVIDUAL LIBERTY Tim Fort. We have the illusion that we can control our fate because individual economic opportunity is indeed considerable. on the grounds of national defense. and our political life is formally free. This lack of common purpose and concern for the common good bodes ill for a people claiming to be a democracy. emphasizing individual freedom and the pursuit of individual affluence (the American dream) in a society with a most un-Lockean economy and government. in ways that are almost invulnerable to citizen knowledge. has invaded every sphere of our lives. The concept of a collective good is the easiest to define: collective goods are those which require some form of collective action to produce. all these goods 21 . 1.West Coast Publishing 2011 LD Moral Obligation THE GENERAL PRINCIPAL OF SELF-INTEREST IS ANTI-DEMOCRATIC 1. the protection of the environment. JD. What marks this concept of a good only concerns its typical production process. viewed the democratic principles coming from the atheistic and rationalistic French Revolution to be a dangerous corruption of virtue required for the success of American government. especially in the form of the military industrial complex." One way of summing up the difficulty Americans have in understanding the fundamental roots of their problems is to say that they still have a Lockean political culture. we allow the workings of our major institutions -the economy and government -. and agencies. that is. institutions. Caught up in our private pursuits. VALUING THE COLLECTIVE GOOD IS MOST DEMOCRATIC Andrei Marmor. and culture. Spring 1999. 215. John Marshall's interpretation of the Constitution strongly in favor of individual liberties created an "original misunderstanding" of the Constitution .according to Presser -which rejected the divinely-directed requirements of a citizen's life in favor of a Constitution understood only as a protector of individual freedom. The federal government has enormously increased its power. undermining those institutions. p. Yet powerful forces affecting the lives of all of us are not operating under the norm of democratic consent. AMERICAN BUSINESS LAW JOURNAL. p. such as the family or the university. 2. Spring 1992. According to Presser. adequate health care. It is precisely this sense of common purpose and public spirit crucial to the guidance of institutions in a democracy that is absent from our society today. by the concerted action of numerous individuals. Assistant Professor. Consider. RUTHLESS INDIVIDUALISM IS ANTI-DEMOCRATIC Claire Andre and Manuel Velasquez. history. the English notion of government insisted that leaders thereafter were not to be criticized. Individual liberty was to flourish within the constraints of a common good that allowed freedom to elect leaders. for example. p. 3. expressed primarily through a market mentality. the private governments of the great corporations make decisions on the basis of their own advantage. the goods of national security. A ruthless individualism. There is a considerable variety of goods in our societies which can only be produced collectively.to go on "over our heads. THE CANADIAN JOURNAL OF LAW AND JURISPRUDENCE. 410. University of Michigan. democratic decision procedures. much less control. This original misunderstanding effectively divorced republicanism from liberalism because it replaced support for the common good with protection of individual liberty. NQA.

Consider the good of clean air. it may not. or under certain circumstances. are of such an essentially collective nature. the production of a given good may require collective action. In some societies. such as in distant rural communities. Note. If there is no pollution.West Coast Publishing 2011 LD Moral Obligation require collective action to produce. however. and clean air becomes a good people can enjoy without any communal aspect whatsoever. for example. People cannot produce or have a democracy by themselves. that there is an element of contingency in this characterization. The production of clean air becomes a collective action problem only in societies which actually face a problem of pollution. 22 . On the other hand. certain goods are essentially of such a nature that their production involves a collectivity. The production of goods may vary with circumstances. there is no need to produce clean air. perhaps. for example. whereas in others. Democratic political procedures.

West Coast Publishing 2011 LD Moral Obligation 23 .

Associate Professor. allowing a person to die from hunger when it is easily within one's means to prevent it is no different. Spring 1992. for the common good is a good to which all members of society have access. 457. people." Rawls's view of public reason is consistent with his original position heuristic. and nonpolitical normative and moral values. Problems of environmental pollution transcend national boundaries. The authors write that nowhere is the need more evident than in the international sphere. when they publicly debate particular policy issues within an established constitutional system. NQA. ISSUES IN ETHICS. so also maintaining the social conditions from which we all benefit requires the cooperative efforts of citizens. p. as a result. NQA. Ball. where problems are beyond the capacity of any single nation to solve. and of the purposes and ends they are to serve. Rawls still calls for a separation between political values. kill a pedestrian. But these efforts pay off. Our economic life is dominated by the dynamics of a vast world market that cannot be controlled by the action of any single nation-state. In a world of increasing complexity and interdependence. I am morally responsible for those deaths. which go to the right. something counts as a common good only to the extent that it is a good to which all have access. which go to the good. as well as individuals. enjoy the benefits of clean air or an unpolluted environment. I am morally responsible for that death whether I intended it or not. FAILING TO HELP THOSE IN NEED IS MORALLY AKIN TO MURDER Claire Andre and Manuel Velasquez. If I purchase a VCR or spend money I don't need. This reinvigoration of democracy is not proposed as an idealistic project but as a practical necessity. of those sharing the status of equal citizenship. the common good doe not just happen. knowing that I could instead have given my money to some relief agency that could have prevented some deaths from starvation. p. p. University of Illinois College of Law." Rather. Establishing and maintaining the common good requires the cooperative efforts of some. 5. Even when citizens are at the last stage of the process. January 2000. If I speed though an intersection and. we can no longer afford "to go our own way. morally speaking. Vast disparities in global wealth and power lead to petering conflicts that endanger economic health and political security around the world. Giving aid to the poor in other nations may require some inconvenience or some sacrifice of luxury on the part of peoples of rich nations. The subject of their reason is the good of the public: what the political conception of justice requires of society's basic structure of institutions. we need to exercise our capacity for developing institutions that recognize our interconnectedness. As citizens move from the original position to later stages in the creation of a well-ordered society. often of many. CORNELL LAW REVIEW." "where the common good is the pursuit of the good in common. 4.West Coast Publishing 2011 LD Moral Obligation COMMON GOOD IS THE ONLY WAY TO ADDRESS THE PROBLEMS HUMANITY FACES 1. THE BENEFITS OF THE COMMON GOOD ARE AVAILABLE TO EVERYONE Claire Andre and Manuel Velasquez. according to Singer. In fact. 3. Spring 1992. 5. and from whose enjoyment no one can be easily excluded. but to ignore the plight of starving people is as morally reprehensible as failing to save a child drowning in a pool because of the inconvenience of getting one's clothes wet. p. Rawls explains that this separation protects the political discourse and democratic process.3.Rawls defines public reason in a democracy as "the reason of its citizens. NQA. ISSUES IN ETHICS. WE MUST FORGO OUR SELFISH INTERESTS TO SOLVE ISSUES THAT THREATEN HUMANITY Claire Andre and Manuel Velasquez. All persons for example. In fact. RAWL S NOTION OF THE PUBLIC GOOD PROTECTS THE MINORITIES FROM OPPRESSIONCarlos A. Just as keeping a park free of litter depends on each user picking up after himself. from majoritarian definitions of the good. moving toward the creation of "the good society. The objection that I didn't intend for anyone to die is irrelevant. they can gradually lift the veil of ignorance. 24 ." 2. Spring 1992. from killing another human being. As these examples suggest. The proliferation of nuclear weapons threatens the security of all. ISSUES IN ETHICS. or any of our society's other common goods. which posits that citizens who do not know their individual characteristics or their places in society's economic and social hierarchies would serve as the optimal prototypes for establishing fundamental principles of justice.

West Coast Publishing 2011 LD Moral Obligation 25 .

individuals. law -. Former German Chancellor Helmut Schmidt. p. The common good. to mark the fiftieth anniversary of the Declaration of Human Rights by revising or. January 2000. 192.N.West Coast Publishing 2011 LD Moral Obligation SELF-INTERSET UNDERMINES THE COMMON GOOD 1. Accessed February 12. AMERICAN BUSINESS LAW JOURNAL. The most prominent theme of the revival revolves around replacing selfinterest with a notion of civic virtue. repealing it. p. 26 . undermines the civic virtues that sustain Americans' sense of communal responsibility. Spring 1999. must replace the pursuit of self-interest with concern for the common good. p. University of Michigan.3. Interest group liberalism. the republicans argue.to an ethos of individual rights that. 3.S. p. Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir bin Mohamad espouses a variation on the same theme. simply does not allow for a conversation about the public good. This theme leads to the second theme of the republican revival. rational choice having played no role whatsoever on behalf of other peoples interests. rights are internal to the shared traditions and understandings of particular societies. they do question whether a society should emphasize individual rights over communal norms and responsibilities when confronting difficult questions of political morality and justice. INDIVIDUAL RIGHTS UNDERMINE CIVIC VIRTUEThomas Franck. 396-397. 2004.Harvard professor Michael Sandel. 443444. it ought to follow that there is something fundamentally wrong with unchosen attachments and projects. as bearers of this history. social attachments that more often than not are involuntarily picked up during the course of our upbringing. criticizes the accommodations made by U. although communitarians do not deny that rights are important. At the international level.stanford. Murray and Ida Becker Professor of Law and Director of the Center for International Studies at New York University's School of Law. Ball. universal principles that are logically prior to community. In 1997. because its human rights norms focus excessively on individual rights while neglecting the rights of society and the common good . as sons or daughters of that revolution. But this view violates our actual self-understandings. better. Michael Sandel says. has centered on developing a notion of citizenship based in the public good. THE STANFORD ENCYCLOPEDIA OF PHILOSOPHY. According to communitarians. Assistant Professor.The late-twentieth century republican revival in the U. that a certain moral principle or communal attachment is more valuable simply because it has been chosen following deliberation among alternatives by an individual subject. A FOCUS ON RIGHTS LEADS TO THE DISPLACEMENT OF INDIVIDUALS FROM THE COMMUNITYCarlos A. too. particularly members of the judiciary and intellectual elites. There must be a rethinking of our politics in order to create the room and incentives for consideration of the common good. Jan-Feb 2001. Instead. CORNELL LAW REVIEW. np. Communitarians believe that the liberal focus on rights leads to the separation and displacement of individuals from the communities to which they belong. INDIVIDUAL CHOICE IS NOT INTRINSICALLY VALUABLE Daniel Bell. says that the declaration reflects "the philosophical and cultural background of its Western drafters" and has called for a new "balance" between "the notions of freedom and of responsibility" because the "concept of rights can itself be abused and lead to anarchy. Winter 2001.Communitarians are critical of the priority that liberals give to individual rights. can be defined by a deliberative political structure in which discussion of the good itself becomes the defining feature of politics. as citizens of this republic . in his recent book Democracy's Discontent. Associate Professor. Communitarians can reply by casting doubt on the view that choice is intrinsically valuable. in particular -. We ordinarily think of ourselves. instead. regardless of what is chosen. the claims. http://plato."2. rights are not preexisting. If we have a highest-order interest in choosing our central projects and life-plans. the republicans argue. FOREIGN AFFAIRS.edu/archives/win2001/entries/communitarianism.S.judge-made law. he urged the U. Sandel complains that the emphasis placed on individualism in recent years has neutered the state and elevated personal rights above the common good. WE MUST REPLACE SELF-INTEREST WITH CONCERN FOR THE PUBLIC GOODTim Fort. as members of this family or community or nation or people. University of Illinois College of Law.

West Coast Publishing 2011 LD Moral Obligation 27 .

BBC Ethics Guide.uk/ethics/charity/against_1. And as Matthew Bishop and Michael Green said last year. the right salvaged wood for our absolutely gorgeous new flooring. Meanwhile. That often results in a mess of uncoordinated NGOs parachuting in to emergency areas with lots of good intentions. Constant bombardment by charities makes people less inclined to give. telegenic emergencies than to the much greater loss of life from ongoing hunger.West Coast Publishing 2011 LD Moral Obligation Negative blocks Individual Contributions and Charities Are More Trouble Than They re Worth Individual monetary contributions lead to disorganization and mismanaged funding.bbc. English Professor at Harper College and NYT contributor. July 2011 Linking the cash register to the heart seems to be an outgrowth of the peculiar fantasy that says if we just buy the right fair-trade coffee.co. can sometimes be seen as actually accepting the injustice itself. maybe giving wouldn t have to feel so much like being taken. we are all better at responding to human suffering caused by dramatic. Maybe if this weren t such a big part of our thinking. Earmarking funds is a really good way of hobbling relief organizations and ensuring that they have to leave large piles of money unspent in one place while facing urgent needs in other places. For the richest of countries. but I have my doubts. 28 . or stand so boldly in the street hawking goodness. where a strategic official sector response would be much more effective. And with a little less charity pollution around us. people wouldn t try to wring kindness from us at such odd times.com/felix-salmon/2011/03/14/dont-donate-money-to-japan/ We went through this after the Haiti earthquake. from this viewpoint. March 2011 http://blogs. while trying to mitigate the consequences of the injustice. shopping our way to moral purity would be a nice trick. masking the roots of the problems.reuters. we can alleviate most of the suffering in the world along with our guilt for ignoring the pleas for help that arrive in the mail and confront us on the street daily.shtml The idea is that charity is wrong when it's used to patch up the effects of the fundamental injustices that are built into the structure and values of a society. Winner of the American Statistical Association s 2010 Excellence in Statistical Reporting Award. and all of the arguments which applied there apply to Japan as well. Felix Salmon. Trevor Jockins. 2011 http://www. the smaller and less visible emergencies where NGOs can do the most good are left unfunded. disease and conflict. Charity. the right $3 water. Charities often only treat the consequences of injustices.

Whether assistance force is permissible in certain circumstances. In that section.iep. these philosophers had developed quite demanding principles of international distributive justice. if given at all. Structurally. In a part of the book devoted to non-ideal theory. should be minimal and have a clear cut-off point. Moreover. and by what means. But the term denotes as well any force which has as a consequence that something happens to a person that will undo the need of another. Henry S. remains to be seen. and Sociology. Once this assumption is dropped. Rawls develops basic principles concerning non-intervention. November 2005 http://www. questions of global distributive justice are confined to one brief section of LP. those of Beitz (1979) and Pogge (1994). Rawls treats quite dismissively two earlier attempts to extend his theoretical framework to questions of international justice. The assistance in question does not need to be motivated for the right reasons. which supposes that all peoples enjoy a decent liberal-democratic regime. These principles govern one nation in its relations with others. Surprisingly. respect for human rights. Richardson. where people are compelled by force or threats to do things against their will. or at least that the bad that is about to happen to him or her is avoided.com. In LP. Pushing someone into a pool to save another person would qualify as assistance force.West Coast Publishing 2011 LD Moral Obligation Assistance Can Be Detrimental and Should Be Minimized Assistance can take many forms. after which these people choose to assist because they now see the need for it.ebscohost. 29 . Forced assistance is the assistance that comes about as a result of assistance force. and assistance for countries lacking the conditions necessary for a decent or just regime to arise.whitman. Drawing on the ideas of TJ. Professor of Philosophy at Georgetown University. nor even be what we normally would call assistance. with a definite target and a cut-off point. with reference to a rather thinly-described global original position. Rawls impressively defends quite restrictive positions on the right of war and on the moral conduct of warfare. Gerhard Øverland. I have invented the first label in order to have a neutral term which covers a variety of ways of using force to ensure help reaches a person or people in need. the question that comes to the fore is: upon what principles should the foreign policy of a decent liberal regime be founded? Rawls first looks at this question from the point of view of ideal theory. LP at 119.ezproxy. which covers a variety of ways force can be used to save people from aggressors. He articulates the idea of a decent consultation hierarchy to illustrate the sort of non-liberal society that is owed considerable tolerance by the people of a decent liberal society.edu:2048/ehost/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?vid=2&hid=106&sid=ab3a18c7-0387-4711-aed1ca0914161581%40sessionmgr114 Assistance force is any force applied to ensure that a particular agent assists a person in need. assistance force might have things in common with coercion.utm. assistance force may simply be used to alert people about certain needs. Anthropology. At this level.edu/rawls/ In The Law of Peoples [LP] (1999). June 2008 http://web. including coercion. expert in Philosophy. Rawls relaxes the assumption that society is a closed system that coincides with a nation-state. Assistance to foreign people. Rawls instead favors a relatively minimal duty of assistance. In this respect it is on par with defensive force. some permissible and some not. He next discusses the principles that should govern decent liberal societies in their relations with peoples who are not governed by decent liberalisms. The fact that this saves Alice means that the person who was pushed into the water renders what I call forced assistance even though he or she is merely used by Alice as a means of getting out of the water.

for example.edu:2048/pqdweb?index=0&did=12671755&SrchMode=1&sid=1&Fmt=3&VInst=PROD&VType=PQ D&RQT=309&VName=PQD&TS=1310402458&clientId=48453 In an attempt to neutralize these purported sources of moral decay. 2010 Intractable conflicts are ones that remain unresolved for long periods of time and then become stuck at a high level of intensity and destructiveness. The view that God creates the moral law is often called the "Divine Command Theory of Ethics." In other words. Professor of Philosophy at Muhlenberg College. religious. being told that one must do as God commands will not help one solve any moral dilemmas. This sense of threat and hostility often pervades the everyday lives of the parties involved and overrides their ability to recognize any shared concerns they might have. a graduate student of Philosophy at the University of Colorado.ezproxy. parties often refuse to negotiate or compromise with respect to such issues.com. there can be no universal moral law. In particular. Without a divine lawgiver. As a result. The The Concept of Morality Itself Causes Violence. it serves as the basic assumption of the Christian fundamentalist's social theory. In fact.whitman.umi. Michelle Maiese. June 1997 http://proquest. Additional insights into the 30 . however. fundamentalists across America are seeking to restore belief in God by belief that morality requires God is not limited to theists. what makes an action right is that God wills it to be done.umi. Boulder and a part of the research staff at the Conflict Research Consortium. others trace it to the Supreme Court's 1963 decision banning prayer in the classroom. Fundamentalists claim that all of society's ills-everything from AIDS to out-of-wedlock pregnancies-are the result of a breakdown in morality and that this breakdown is due to a decline in the belief of God. for. cultural. Many atheists subscribe to it as well. Problematic Christian fundamentalists push morality as an answer to all the world s problems. Although many fundamentalists trace Euthyphro. says that "If God is dead. political. June 1997 http://proquest. They typically involve many parties and concern an intricate set of historical. That an agnostic should find this theory suspect is obvious." According to this view. They may develop a mutual fear of each other and a profound desire to inflict as much physical and psychological harm on each other as possible. the belief the beginning of this decline to the publication of Charles Darwin's The Origin of Species in 1859.ezproxy. promoting the teaching of creationism and school prayer. Conflicts The most violent and difficult to solve conflicts continue to exist because of invoking morals. The existentialist Jean-Paul Sartre.West Coast Publishing 2011 LD Moral Obligation Morality Invokes Religion. Theodore Schick.edu:2048/pqdweb?index=0&did=12671755&SrchMode=1&sid=1&Fmt=3&VInst=PROD&VType=PQ D&RQT=309&VName=PQD&TS=1310402458&clientId=48453 Although Plato demonstrated the logical independence of God and morality over 2. if there is no supreme being to lay down the moral law. each individual is free to do as he or she pleases. if one doesn't believe in God or if one is unsure which God is the true God. Professor of Philosophy at Muhlenberg College. A religious god is the only one who can determine a universal morality.000 years ago in the that morality requires God remains a widely held moral maxim. everything is permitted. These matters are central to human social existence and typically resist any attempts at resolution. and economic issues.com. Theodore Schick.whitman. each side views the rigid position of the other as a threat to its very existence.

How then shall they be understood? The existence of a value presupposes a value-positing perspective. even when they no longer seem practicable. August 2009 http://www. Denton. Alan Pratt.iep. Professor at University of North Texas. Other factors that make some conflicts extremely difficult to resolve include the vast numbers of people involved. and what was once the prudent deployment of values into a life denying abuse of power. If one nation controls a piece of land. As conflict escalates. The aim is 31 . or other resources may take on increased symbolic significance. This is especially true in societies where natural fear and hatred is so ingrained that opposing groups cannot imagine living with or working cooperatively with the other side. from time to time the values we inherit are deemed no longer suitable and the continued enforcement of them no longer stands in the service of life. The caustic strength of nihilism is absolute. when extremist political leaders appeal to ethno-nationalist ideology to arouse fear. this may increase support for the use of violence and contribute to intractability. the nihilist discovers that all values are baseless and that reason is impotent. contending sides usually regard compromise as a loss. this deepens antagonism and may lead the opposing side to seek revenge. Dale Wilkerson . Morals and values are constructed by man and can be twisted into whatever the wielder wants for personal gain. For him. social institutions enforcing adherence to inherited values are permitted to create selfserving economies of power. . Because values are important for the well being of the human animal. identities. Nevertheless. so long as individuals living through them are thereby made more secure and their possibilities for life enhanced. Over the course of conflict. Every belief. May 2005 http://www. When this happens the human being must reactivate its creative. If one value system is followed. if one party resorts to inhumane treatment in waging conflict. money. These underlying causes include parties' moral values. value-positing capacities and construct new values. another does not. For example. Penetrating the façades buttressing convictions. This is because the problem in question is one that cannot be resolved in a win-win way. but one actually puts one s shoulder to the plough. Given that no absolute values exist. not only the belief that everything deserves to perish. the evolution of values on earth must be measured by some other means. Why do some conflicts become intractable? Many describe intractability in terms of the destructive relationship dynamics that govern the adversaries' interaction. Likewise. the original issues can even become irrelevant as new causes for conflict are generated by actions within the conflict itself. nihilism requires a radical repudiation of all imposed values and meaning: Nihilism is . another is subordinate.utm. Disputes about land.utm. any tangible issues may become embedded within a larger set of values. they are usually not resolvable by negotiation or compromise. If one group is dominant. Professor of Philosophy at Embry-Riddle University.iep. and a previous history of violent confrontation. and values are created by human beings (and perhaps other value-positing agents) as aids for survival and growth. All values are constructed and meaningless. To maintain allegiance to such values. But what are the underlying causes of these destructive conflict dynamics? What is common to all intractable conflicts is that they involve interests or values that the disputants regard as critical to their survival. one destroys (Will to Power). there is no objective order or structure in the world except what we give it.edu/nihilism/#H3 For Nietzsche. and under its withering scrutiny the highest values devalue themselves. Those on opposing sides come to view each other as enemies and may resort to highly destructive means. they are often willing to take whatever means necessary to ensure group survival and protect their way of life. Eventually. the parties become unable to separate different issues and may see no way out of the conflict other than through total victory or defeat. Because conflicts grounded in these issues involve the basic molds for thought and action within given communities and culture. in Nietzsche s worldview. turns what once served the advantage to individuals to a disadvantage. and fundamental human needs. beliefs. While sharing is possible in theory. Nietzsche writes. only action matters. and cultures. Nietzsche argues.West Coast Publishing 2011 LD Moral Obligation underlying causes of intractable conflicts are offered by Beyond Intractability project participants. identities. every considering something-true.edu/nietzsch/#H4 Nietzsche s philosophy contemplates the meaning of values and their significance to human existence. another is threatened. is necessarily false because there is simply no true world (Will to Power [notes from 1883-1888]). the large number of complex issues to be resolved. For these reasons. . because belief in them is essential to our existence. Instead. we oftentimes prefer to forget that values are our own creations and to live through them as if they were absolute.

Inevitably. nihilism will expose all cherished beliefs and sacrosanct truths as symptoms of a defective Western mythos.West Coast Publishing 2011 LD Moral Obligation lacking. 32 . and Why finds no answer (Will to Power).

As expressed. Given these differences. Thus. COMMUNITARIANISM DOESN T WORK IN A PLURALISTIC SOCIETY Linda Fisher. we would certainly disagree about the relative values things have for us. In other words. while others will favor directing resources to the environment over both health and education. is that a communitarian society flourishes when the inevitable tension between social responsibility and individual autonomy is maintained in suitable equilibrium. 2000. some people urge. conceptions of what constitutes a "good life" is important to liberals because it allows individuals to choose the lives that they think are best for them. however. and a clean environment are all parts of the common good. 2. January 2000. Etzioni's premise in The New Golden Rule." differences that have increased during the last few decades as the voices of more and more previously silenced groups. p. Such disagreements are bound to undercut our ability to evoke a sustained and widespread 33 .West Coast Publishing 2011 LD Moral Obligation TO HAVE A SOCIETY THAT WORKS. Center for Social Justice. further culturally shared principles are needed to guide its application to particular situations.is his general formulation of the proper relationship between these two values. more should be invested in health than in education. liberals demand that the state separate issues of morality from political debates and definitions of rights. CORNELL LAW REVIEW. especially when the values of order and autonomy clash. A state that is neutral as to ends does not impose its version of the good on its citizens. YALE LAW AND POLICY REVIEW. University of Illinois College of Law. ISSUES IN ETHICS. the rule is a maxim an individual can use as a guideline to appropriate behavior. power disparities between groups exacerbate the negative consequences of unresolved values conflicts. While a may agree. State neutrality regarding different. Associate Professor. Because the rule is very broadly phrased. such as a commitment to democracy and the Constitution. according to some philosophers. the good. 3."respect and uphold society's moral order as you would have society respect and uphold your autonomy" . and environment we will all pitch in to support. Spring 1992. WE MUST DEFINE INDIVIDUAL RIGHTS PRIOR TO THE GOOD Carlos A. pluralistic societies. we must define rights prior to. and independently of. NQA. 354. Ball. An impartial state also acts as a neutral arbiter in resolving disputes among citizens. THE COMMON GOOD CANNOT COME BEFORE INDIVIDUALS 1. the earlier of the two works. institutions. the very idea of a common good is inconsistent with a pluralistic society like ours. 3. some will say the. Etzioni sets forth a number of core values shared by Americans. such as women and minorities have been heard. First. but those values are often too general and abstract to support actual resolutions of contentious issues. that an affordable health system a healthy educational system. And even if we agree upon what we all valued. p. it will be impossible for us to agree on what particular kind of social systems. 444. Associate Professor of Law and Director. Seton Hall University School of Law. and often conflicting. Those values clash most acutely in diverse. THE IDEA OF A COMMON GOOD IS INCONSISTENT WITH A PLURALISTIC SOCIETY Claire Andre and Manuel Velasquez. Moreover. The "New Golden Rule" . Different people have different ideas abut what is worthwhile or what constitutes "the good life for human beings. for example. p.

tyranny. such efforts would force everyone to support some specific notion of the common good. violating the principle of treating people equally. violating the freedom of those who do not share in that goal. and inevitably leading to paternalism (imposing one group's preference on others). efforts to bring about the common good can only lead to adopting or promoting the views of some. In the face of such pluralism.West Coast Publishing 2011 LD Moral Obligation commitment to the common good. 34 . and oppression. Moreover. while excluding others.

A third liberal rationale for free speech protection. produces antidemocratic individualism. ANNUAL REVIEW OF POLITICAL SCIENCE. in reaction. Versions of that definition are found wherever people are or aspire to be democratic. 3. The philosophical roots of this idea can be traced to the liberal political philosophy of John Locke. 35 . or place in society. noting that "the theory of our Constitution" is that "the ultimate good desired is better reached by free trade in ideas -. v. DEMOCRACY INEVITABLY ENGENDERS INDIVIDUALISM George Kateb. p. J. To live as one likes means that one is allowed to try out various roles in life. encouraging the free expression of ideas without government restraints protects the individual's capacity to choose her own conception of the good. GEORGETOWN LAW JOURNAL. J. Under this model.even "false" ideas -. and the oldest democratic concept of freedom is the Greek one: To be free is to live as one likes. and John Stuart Mill." According to this rationale. such as freedom of expression.can we ensure that public discourse is robust enough to produce the truth. The paper rejects both contentions. the importance of protecting free speech rests on the importance of individual liberty to make autonomous choices and to formulate and "pursue a rational plan of life" free from constraint. serve a "checking value.that the best test of truth is the power of the thought to get itself accepted in the competition of the market. The defining characteristic of democracy is freedom. candidate. John Milton. This approach posits that the importance of individual rights. GEORGETOWN LAW JOURNAL. Thus. Georgetown University Law Center. then. p. presocial individuals in the state of nature enter society voluntarily. This proposition will be challenged by those who think either that individualism can obtain in nondemocratic cultures or that democracy can exist without engendering individualism. i. Georgetown University Law Center. THE SOCIAL CONTRACT VALUES INDIVIDUAL LIBERTIES ABOVE THE COMMON GOOD Shelly Woodward. December 1996.D. Each person is more than any single role. 464. December 1996. The philosophical roots of this approach may be traced to the social contract model of society.West Coast Publishing 2011 LD Moral Obligation A GENERAL PRINCIPLE OF COMMON GOOD IS ANTI-DEMOCRATIC 1. THE RIGHT TO FREE SPEECH IS BASED ON THE VALUE OF AUTONOMY Shelly Woodward. 2. 1. Where democracy exists. United States. p. 6. candidate.D. 275. Only democracy inspires it. there will be individualism. the right has priority over the good. That is. is the idea of negative liberty. Only by ensuring that individuals have access to competing ideas -. The historical record shows that democracy inevitably engenders individualism. lies in the ability to prohibit the state from interfering in the exercise of individual autonomy. 458. Justice Holmes further enunciated this philosophy in his famous dissent in Abrams v. Individualism consists in that idea. 2003. It is also true that democracy. The marketplace of ideas theory asserts that the search for truth is best served by a free exchange of ideas. function. consenting to form a society that will protect individual rights. closely intertwined with the marketplace of ideas and self-government rationales." which ensures that the state does not overstep its legitimacy by encroaching on the individual's ability to make autonomous choices. Individual rights.

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