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I know that Objectivists have a very distinct difference between voluntary private charity and forced compulsory public welfare. This question pertains to where specifically do you draw the line.

I know Objectivism rejects some vaporous notion of the "public good" or that society itself is even some "emergent" entity (ie collectivism.)

Where do you draw the line, individually. You reject the welfare state as a parasitic looting class, but what about someone, an individual, who is mentally incapacitated, or does not have a functioning body and thus cannot physically be productive?

Isn't some form of subjectivism and/or altruism needed to allow that individual some humane life rather than either trying to turn them into 'capitalists' somehow, or just allowing them to rot in the gutter?

(Sorry if this was answered elsewhere already.)

Edited by 2046

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There's nothing wrong or altruistic about voluntarily donating to a charity that is a value to you. I donate to the local animal shelter because I love animals and hate to see them suffer. I give to the Shriner's hospitals because I was burned when I was a kid (albeit not severely enough to require hospitalization) and I hate to see other children suffering with major burns. People will voluntarily put their money where their values are.

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There's nothing wrong or altruistic about voluntarily donating to a charity that is a value to you. I donate to the local animal shelter because I love animals and hate to see them suffer. I give to the Shriner's hospitals because I was burned when I was a kid (albeit not severely enough to require hospitalization) and I hate to see other children suffering with major burns. People will voluntarily put their money where their values are.

Well said. I would like to add that the degree of help is something important too. If you help your neighbor in trouble, it's one thing, but then you turn your life into a search for those in need, you have crossed the line.

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Well said. I would like to add that the degree of help is something important too. If you help your neighbor in trouble, it's one thing, but then you turn your life into a search for those in need, you have crossed the line.

Not only that, but paradoxically (except to an Objectivist of course), the better you take care of yourself, the better position you are in to take care of someone else when you need/want to. If you dedicate your life to parading around giving everything away it's not long until you have nothing left to give, and I don't just mean in money either.

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There is no "line" between force and justice - only a no man's land.

In Laissez-faire Capitalism, only the most gravely disabled would find themselves consistently lacking the means of self-support. This is in contrast to the unfathomable inefficiency of current society.

Those few should be supported by their families, and would be supported by charity.

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Well said. I would like to add that the degree of help is something important too. If you help your neighbor in trouble, it's one thing, but then you turn your life into a search for those in need, you have crossed the line.

Not necessarily. If your value is having a world where you know you would be taken care of should you ever come to the state of disability, then it would be in your self-interest to create a world where people were able to be taken care of. And if someone has the skills to do this, it is in their self-interest to exercise them, and becomes an exchange of value with people who also want to know they would be taken care of if they were disabled, but did not have the skills to improve the world in that way.

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I agree. If you want to do charity work and actively seek out those that need help, what's wrong with that? As long as your not sacrificing your own happiness or skirting your responsibilities, who cares?

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If your value is having a world where you know you would be taken care of should you ever come to the state of disability, then it would be in your self-interest to create a world where people were able to be taken care of.

Would it be more in your self-interest to set up a charity or some other program to help disabled people or to work hard yourself to have the financial wealth or some type of skill to take care of yourself should you become disabled?

It seems like working hard for overall independence by being able to pay for things or perform the tasks you can't or don't want to pay for takes care of this problem itself. Part of the reason I work to make money and save some is for if something bad happens to me that I couldn't control. A severe physical disability is more of a financial burden than my car breaking down but both are a type of disability.

Financial independence is a more efficient way to handle this. Someone might be more interested with setting up a charity or the like instead, though, I don't know.

I think charity can be performed in the same way that rational people would join law enforcement: working to remove something they see as bad from society. With law enforcement, a rational person would want to work to remove injustice. In charity a person would get pleasure knowing they were working to remove something like cancer or MS for personal reasons.

To the original question, in a society where government is funded by voluntary donations, it seems highly probable that a relative or friend of a disabled person could help out. From what I understand, that doesn't contradict any principle of Objectivism. If the person values the disabled person they would want to help him or her out and would gain joy or relief from it.

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Would it be more in your self-interest to set up a charity or some other program to help disabled people or to work hard yourself to have the financial wealth or some type of skill to take care of yourself should you become disabled?

It would of course have to depend on your current situation in life. The first choice could easily become an altruistic choice if you're not careful. There might be better and more selfish choices, even if there are some pretty nice benefits for yourself.

Edited by Eiuol

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I know that Objectivists have a very distinct difference between voluntary private charity and forced compulsory public welfare. This question pertains to where specifically do you draw the line.

We draw the line at the use of force. A humanist philosophy is that which regards men as able to choose the good over evil. If a system of values needs to be forced upon others by its proponents, rather than explained and demonstrated, it stands to reason that it isn't a good set of values.

Ask yourself this:

Why, when you see a helpless person such as you describe, your first instinct is to force people to help him, instead of convincing people, by appealing to the same values you are invoking while using force? Why is your view of your fellow men so low, that you think the few truly helpless people would be left to die by them, and why is your view of yourself so high, that you think it is proper for you to instead force others to be good?

Edited by Jake_Ellison

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Why is your view of your fellow men so low, that you think the few truly helpless people would be left to die by them, and why is your view of yourself so high, that you think it is proper for you to instead force others to be good?

That is a condemnation of man as such, including himself. But for every sacrifice there is a collector, and for every slave a master.

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I know that Objectivists have a very distinct difference between voluntary private charity and forced compulsory public welfare. This question pertains to where specifically do you draw the line.

I know Objectivism rejects some vaporous notion of the "public good" or that society itself is even some "emergent" entity (ie collectivism.)

Where do you draw the line, individually. You reject the welfare state as a parasitic looting class, but what about someone, an individual, who is mentally incapacitated, or does not have a functioning body and thus cannot physically be productive?

Isn't some form of subjectivism and/or altruism needed to allow that individual some humane life rather than either trying to turn them into 'capitalists' somehow, or just allowing them to rot in the gutter?

(Sorry if this was answered elsewhere already.)

No physical force, to take from one to give to the other, should be allowed. I think the essence of your question is where the mentally incapacitated would get help, if the rejection of the welfare state was ever to be upheld by government; and whether an Objectivist, or any other person, would ever contribute to someone who would not be of value to them. I've come to this conclusion--let me know if I'm grasping too much at nothing--because you recognize voluntary private charity in your post, but then you state a case about mentally incapacitated, non-functioning, or non-productive people who would not get assistance; and if they cannot get assistance, you mean they cannot get voluntary support.

First I'd have to reject the notion that the mentally incapacitated, or any affected person you described, are of value to no one, and therefore would never get assistance. A few examples of how these people would get a more targeted assistance (focused on a particular individual or ailment), under a system of private charity, comes to mind: Family members are going to be the first likely to assist someone in that situation; individuals who have had someone they know, either family members or friends, who've suffered from a particular ailment, may lend support; and the both could fund research projects aimed at curing a particular ailment--these things happen now, and are not likely to stop, but instead increase when the welfare state is weakened or abolished. As for non-targeted support, that won't focus on a particular mental or physical ailment, there will be the general charities--homeless, hunger, etc...-- to help these people.

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