login about faq

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?

asked Jan 15 '12 at 23:42

BobJ's gravatar image


edited Jan 16 '12 at 00:39

Greg%20Perkins's gravatar image

Greg Perkins ♦♦

I would be upset. Who wouldn't, at the thought of death? All I know is that if I could help someone, I would.

(Jan 15 '12 at 23:53) Collin1 Collin1's gravatar image

Why do you say Objectivists "feel no one should ever have to help anyone else"? That's not true: I'm an Objectivist, and I don't feel that way (or more important, think that way).

(Jan 16 '12 at 00:45) Greg Perkins ♦♦ Greg%20Perkins's gravatar image

This website is proof that Greg does not think that way. :)

(Jan 16 '12 at 12:46) Humbug Humbug's gravatar image

@Greg Well, even in the answer given (John's), it says that the government shouldn't force anyone to help, and since the government is supposed to bar physical force from relationships, there's no one else who could force someone to help. That's why my understanding is that Objectivism states that no one should have (i.e. be forced) to help anyone else.

(Jan 16 '12 at 21:10) BobJ BobJ's gravatar image

I'm just curious about the interplay of being upset that no one helped you, yet not feeling that you've been wronged enough to think that people should be forced to help. This is something I don't understand, and was hoping for clarification.

(Jan 16 '12 at 21:11) BobJ BobJ's gravatar image

BobJ, it is true that people should not be coerced to help others. However, that's not the same as saying that nobody should ever have to help someone else. There is "should" arising from moral force, where -- not because they are being coerced -- the individual recognizes that helping this person is an expression of their values, to the extent that it could even entail outright hypocrisy to not help. And there is "should" arising from contractual agreement to help someone, like with soldiers and firefighters in a sane world, in which case they are obliged legally and not just morally.

(Jan 16 '12 at 22:47) Greg Perkins ♦♦ Greg%20Perkins's gravatar image

How is the government going to force someone to help anyway?

(Jan 17 '12 at 00:15) anthony anthony's gravatar image
showing 2 of 7 show all

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%20Paquette's gravatar image

John Paquette ♦

So, if you're about to die and someone could easily help you but doesn't, and you try to force him to, the government should step in--to stop you! Your ideal government would not only let you die, but would prevent you from acting to save your life?

(Jan 16 '12 at 21:16) BobJ BobJ's gravatar image

@John well said.

(Jan 16 '12 at 23:43) Rick ♦ Rick's gravatar image

Follow this question

By Email:

Once you sign in you will be able to subscribe for any updates here



Answers and Comments

Share This Page:



Asked: Jan 15 '12 at 23:42

Seen: 1,305 times

Last updated: Jan 17 '12 at 00:15