Being one's actual brother's keeper

Reader comment on: Budgets and Brothers
in response to reader comment: Which is it?

Submitted by John Gillis (United States), Jul 18, 2011 18:36

Re no. 2. Nothing in an individualist morality conflicts with helping people and being charitable in general, or in having a desire to help family in substantial ways, monetarily and otherwise.

There are two cases here: 1) helping family and friends and 2) helping strangers. (The distinction here is not based on size (small vs. large) but on issues such as personal value of the individuals, or of the personal issues that are important to you that might involve people you don't personally know, such as helping breast cancer victims or African malaria victims, or even abandoned dogs and cats).

I do both cases above, for a large variety of reasons, and it would take a while to lay out all the reasons, which would not be suitable here. All such giving is in my own interest, so it is quite consistent with an individualist outlook on life.

But then there is the "third" case: enforced-by-a-gun-Giving, which is what ALL government welfare is, since the money is taken against the will of some citizens for the benefit of others. And it doesn't matter whether the money transfers that are being given by the government are to a large group of strangers or to my mother -- it is morally wrong in any case.

So, being the keeper of one's own brother is perfectly consistent with individualism, if you choose to do that, but a) being forced to keep one's own brother is bad, and b) being forced to keep all the other "brothers" that communitarians demand is equally bad. In individualism, even one's own brother has no moral claim on your life and your wealth, but that doesn't preclude wanting to help him.

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Other reader comments on this item

Title By Date
Obligations vs. duties [278 words]Don WatkinsJul 19, 2011 23:58
Let help be optional, based on values, rather than duty oriented [156 words]Gideon ReichJul 19, 2011 16:50
Which is it?
[w/response] [183 words]
John GillisJul 18, 2011 17:55
⇒ Being one's actual brother's keeper [283 words]John GillisJul 18, 2011 18:36

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