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is it moral to send money to poverty stricken nations if you know that the money you send will have no effect on your life.

asked Dec 01 '10 at 19:20

Michael's gravatar image


edited Dec 01 '10 at 21:29

Greg%20Perkins's gravatar image

Greg Perkins ♦♦

I don't think this question is legitimate. It is counterfactual in a crucial way to say that money doesn't matter.

(Dec 01 '10 at 21:54) Mindy Newton ♦ Mindy%20Newton's gravatar image

By implication, according to Objectivism, it is immoral to send money anywhere if you know it "will have no effect on your life." Objectivism holds that the primary beneficiary of an action should be the actor. By squandering your money in such a way, one would commit an act of sacrifice (in Objectivist terms): one would be exchanging a higher value in favor of a lower value or a non-value.

(Dec 02 '10 at 02:37) Michael Labeit Michael%20Labeit's gravatar image

I think Mindy's point was not to imply that it is an immoral squandering, but rather to indicate that the circumstance of the question could never arise in the first place because it will simply never be the case that an Objectivist would think (much less know) that sending money somewhere "will have no effect on your life."

(Dec 02 '10 at 07:40) Greg Perkins ♦♦ Greg%20Perkins's gravatar image

If Michael is actually asking whether generosity is moral when one thinks it is both non-sacrificial and non-beneficial in any meaningful degree, then I think such a circumstance is possible. (Like, for example, picking up a stray penny I might spy under otherwise normal conditions would be both of those.)

(Dec 02 '10 at 07:46) Greg Perkins ♦♦ Greg%20Perkins's gravatar image
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"Is it moral to send money to poverty stricken nations if you know that the money you send will have no effect on your life?"

Assuming this is addressed to an individual, and stating ahead of time that it is an incoherent question, I will venture a reply to what seems valid in it.

It is moral to spend your own money as it suits you, assuming you are being reasonable in the process. Random acts of benevolence are not bad if they repay the trouble psychologically. It isn't a bad thing to help others, if it fits into your own economy in a way that makes some kind of sense. Realistically, it is highly unlikely that this donation to far-away, unknown, needy people--and especially to such a country's government, (what brought them to such a needy status?)--is sensible and thus acceptable.

The notion that this money will have no effect on your life can be stricken altogether as making any difference to the question. If it repays you to make such a donation in any way, it simply needs to be that what you get out of it is greater in value than what the money otherwise could provide you with, for the donation to be moral.

answered Dec 10 '10 at 17:21

Mindy%20Newton's gravatar image

Mindy Newton ♦

edited Dec 10 '10 at 17:23

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Asked: Dec 01 '10 at 19:20

Seen: 1,109 times

Last updated: Dec 10 '10 at 17:23