Suppose you're about to die, but could be easily saved by the action of another (who you have no way of communicating with). As an objectivist, you feel no one should ever have to help anyone else. Would you be upset if he chose not to save you?
First of all, Objectivism is not about near-death situations, nor about emergencies.
Objectivism is about living life under normal conditions.
As an Objectivist, I believe that the government should not force anyone to help me. I'm generally committed to earning any help I get, and to persuading anyone I meet to give me help.
That said, if I run out of options (but remember, I'm committed to not running out of options) I would personally attempt to forcibly get the help I need, and then, once I'm OK, I'd turn myself in to the police.
What if, however, I'm physically unable (due to injury) to persuade or force someone to help me?
If someone near me could help me out with no risk to his own life, but he refuses, I'd be outraged. I'd see no reason for his arbitrary neglect of a fellow person in dire need of help.
All else equal, it's morally wrong to let someone (whom you don't know from Adam) die if it is cheap and easy for you to help him. But it's a worse moral wrong for the government to punish him for not helping. Deciding who gets helped by whom is not the government's job. Such a callous person is best dealt with by ostracism.
The government's job is to bar physical force from human relationships.
answered Jan 16 '12 at 14:56
John Paquette ♦