Thursday, December 22, 2005

Abundance and Responsibility

Inequity, which often occurs when individuals have an unusual abundance, is generally thought of as a bad thing. Indeed, many philosophies (especially political philosophies) are centrally concerned with minimising inequity.

What responsibilities do individuals have towards equity (or equality, if you prefer) and to what extent do the negative aspects of inequity reduce the positive aspects of abundance?

Ones position on society and individualism will often be the central issue when considering this question. Let us for the moment ignore situations where ones own abundance causes harm to others, and just look at the case of relative advantage.

Is pleasure any better depending on who experiences it? What reason do we have for preferring our own pleasure to the pleasure of others? If we had the power to allocate pleasure to others, on what basis would we distribute it? If pleasure is a scarce resource, do we have the right to experience more than other people?

I for one sometimes experience a curious feeling when I notice that other people are not happy despire an abundant situation, or are clearly pursuing strategies which are making them unhappy. (for example, not being ambitious at work but also being made unhappy by low wages) To what extent should one simple please oneself in the face of this?

Some people will regard societal responsibility, but consider also the happiness of close friends and loved ones, whose welfare you care about. To what extent should one be indifferent to their achievement of pleasure, and pursue ones own to the greatest extent? If (for example) a close friend is needlessly miserable, to what extent should you ignore this or attempt to improve it?

This is the dilemma -- one has greatest power over ones own happiness, but when one is unhappy, it happiness seems most unattainable. When another person is unhappy, one is in fact relatively powerless to improve their situation, yet they themselves are most in need.

In some cases, the giving of affection or goods will help their situation, but this is by no means always true.

Where your own situation is abundant, but another is in need, the inequity of the situation seems to exacerbate the problem. Is your abundance itself a bad thing in that situation, or is the problem elsewhere?

Questions without answers.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

Very interesting thought has opened for me

5/17/2007 04:12:00 AM  

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