Meeting number 10 on 11 June 2012.

Subject was a question as posed by Ben which was: "How much should you do for charity? My friend insists to chuggers that the government gives just the right amount to good causes on his behalf, so there’s no need to supplement it. On what basis can I argue against this?"

People who attended: Ben, Barry, Masood and Apoorva.

1 comment:

masood said...

A tiny part of the things that got said follows. Is it possible for there to be a genuinely altruistic act? Or is there always a motive of self-interest involved? For example if I help someone is part of the motive for this the expectation that the help will be reciprocated at some future date? Or the motive of wanting to feel good about myself for having helped someone? Would a genuinely altruistic act be motiveless somehow? If I do something just because it's the right thing to do it could still be the case that the motive is something else, for example the desire not to be thought of as a bad person. ... If you get pleasure from making people happy that's kind of selfish but not really such a bad thing! ... The concept of altruism and charity not coextensive. I could give someone a present as an altruistic act but this wouldn't be an act of charity. Charity means giving to someone who is unfortunate, ie where their lack of the thing being given is not because of something that the unfortunate person has done, ie it is not in their control. What does 'unfortunate' mean? If someone fails to help themselves they are not unfortunate. But who is to decide whether someone is unfortunate in this sense? (Have unemployed people helped themselves sufficiently?) It's a subjective decision and so how much a person does for charity will depend on the person giving. There is no objective answer to the question "how much should you do for charity?". If the government acts in the place of charity (ie the Welfare State) the choice of how much to do is made by the majority of the electorate. But will the majority care enough about the minority? As an individual you might disagree with whether the government has done "the right amount": you might think they have done too much or too little.

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