News and an Ethical Question


I have not totally disappeared from the blogosphere but being on vacation in a place where there is only one wifi spot inside the common room of the little restored village, I have not had the opportunity for much online presence. Besides I am also busy with visiting lots of fantastic places and enjoying the beauties of Italian nature and architecture.

This morning I finished The Sunday Philosophy Club by Aleaxander McCall Smith – the author of The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency Series. It is a fine holiday read where the main character has a keen interest in ethics. Here is a passage which caught my attention. Two characters are discussing whether one of them should help and get involved after witnessing a crime and they get into a debate about involvement and moral duty in general.

“We can’t have moral obligations to every person in this world. We have a moral obligation to those we come up against, who enter our moral space, so to speak. That means neighbours, people we deal with, and so on.”

Do you agree?

15 thoughts on “News and an Ethical Question

  1. That’s in the Talmud – you are supposed to help the people in your own village first.

    Looks like heaven. OK, maybe not heaven, but the landscape looks like it’s begging to be painted.

  2. Leora took the words right out of my mouth, er, keyboard. The Gemara (BT Bava Metzia 71a) states, “Your poor and the poor of your city: Your poor take precedence. The poor of your city and the poor of a different city: The poor of your city take precedence.”

    Enjoy your vacation!

  3. I think we as humans should be moral, all the time. If someone is in distress, help them if you can. I think it’s OK to help strangers if they need it.

    • I agree with your emphasis about being moral all the time. However when it comes to helping we need to admit that we cannot help everyone, hence the necessity to have priorities.

  4. Stunning photo! I’m glad you’re enjoying your vacation, and thanks for the addition to my must-read list.

    The first thing which came to my mind was that I agreed with the statement, but then I disagreed a little bit. I was thinking that, theoretically, we *do* have a moral obligation to everyone in the world, but only when they “come up against” us. So, before I knew you, my moral obligation to you was simply lying dormant, and now it’s active.

    Does that make sense?

    Also, I agree with the Bava Metzia thing (of course).

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