Michael Stuart Kelly Posted March 4, 2006 Share Posted March 4, 2006 I was delightfully surprised to receive the following letter from Nathaniel Branden yesterday concerning the questions I recently raised on RoR, then later here on OL in the "Rants" section, The Ayn Rand Love/Hate Myth – Part 2 – Moral Ambivalence. My emphasis was on ethics and rights for children in emergencies. By and large, the greatest opposition - and a good deal of it drastically overheated in the emotion department - has centered on government intervention in an individual's life. This focus has been stubbornly maintained even where the topic evolved and no longer warranted it.Nathaniel cut deeper, as he is wont to do. The crucial issue he raised is one that I strongly believe needs to be addressed in Objectivism.(For the record, I asked for Nathaniel's permission to post this as he wrote it and he authorized me to do so - with my heartfelt thanks.)MichaelDear Michael,I want to suggest another angle for that question about the abandoned, starving child.If you saw a passer-by, with plenty of food in his knapsack, ignore the abandoned, starving child on the roadside, there would be another question to be asked beside the question of whether or not one should ask for government intervention.It is simply this: What do you, the bystander, the observer, think about this passer-by who walks on doing nothing to help the child? I think a high percentage of us would feel moral indignation.But why?According to Objectivism, “there are no unchosen obligations,” and therefore there is no reason to get indignant or angry at the passer-by who refuses to save the child.So I invite whoever hears about this issue to look into your own emotional reactions toward the passer-by who does nothing, when he has the power to save the child’s life at no significant cost to himself. The indignation I believe most of us would feel reflects an underlying premise that needs to be brought into this discussion.Something here screams out: “This is wrong!” Yes, wrong, but by what standard? By what moral principle? Some new thinking is required, folks!Nathaniel Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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