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Old 07-24-2019, 01:51 PM
Max S. is offline
Join Date: Aug 2017
Location: Florida, USA
Posts: 2,519
I identify as politically conservative.

On the one hand, "It is right to give every man his due". This is Plato's definition of morality, and equivocal to personal responsibility. I cannot justify the concept without resorting to decidedly religious or at least spiritual axioms such as the existence of a soul - not necessarily an immortal soul and not necessarily a divine one - and a spiritual basis of morality.

On the other hand I am less than confident about those religious axioms, which sometimes lead to distasteful conclusions. For example, basing public policy on personal responsibility alone is contradictory to egalitarian principles. Nature is not egalitarian, and no man is responsible for acts of nature. Historian/geographer Jared Diamond attributed simple geography as a factor for much of the inequalities in history, and I subscribe to that theory. Whose fault is it that the Americas had few domesticable animals, and therefore no immunity to animal-borne disease? Putting aside the hostility between colonists and indigenous peoples, if there were a peaceful coexistence but the natives fell victim to plague, is this justice? Did the natives deserve it?

Consider if a hurricane blew destroyed my neighbor's house (as Maria did). Did they deserve to lose their new home? Is it not a category mistake to ascribe culpability to acts of nature, given nature's lack of sentience? Why then should I subsidize the repairs except out of the goodness of my heart? Of course, I think it is a good thing to help them repair their house. I even think subsidizing other houses affected by the hurricane is a good thing. But personal responsibility must give way to some other doctrine, because it is unquestionable that I am not responsible for acts of nature.

If this other doctrine is charity, rather than egalitarianism or utilitarianism, the cynic in me says acts of nature will doom people to undeserved suffering. And if no other doctrine is presented, the only answer is that suffering is deserved.

Suffice to say, I have mixed feelings on this subject.