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Obligations to Help the Poor

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An Ethical dilemma refers to a complex condition that involves mental conflict between different moral imperatives in which individuals are unable to choose one without inflicting or transgressing another. Ethical dilemma can also be referred to as an Ethical paradox because it plays a central role in debates concerning ethics especially in moral philosophy. Ethical dilemmas are mostly used to reject an ethical system as well as the worldview that results from it.

In most of the societies, reasoning is always guided with rationality; each and every person is expected to carry out himself or his activities in a given manner. Philosophy plays a significant role in shaping the moral behavior of people in a given society. People have always to consider issues pertaining reasoning and logic; that for one to make a decision he/she has to think clearly, exceptionally well and clarify the whole issue plus weighing the consequences of his stand on the welfare of those around him/her.

Ethical studies are truly fundamental in our lives as the society members because it tends to deepen our reflection on the key aspects and questions of life. It is also essential in the sense that it helps us to think better about morality as we are able to make moral judgments’ and decisions of which we can be held accountable. Ethical studies have been credited for sharpening general thinking of individuals because it enables them to learn essential intellectual skills, which enable them to think rigorously about fundamental questions surrounding their lives, they are able to understand and evaluate conflicting issues with ease.

The dilemma here refers to the conflicting ideology or agenda between individuals and society, at large; this might be the case where the ethics held by individuals fail to fully comply with the moral standards set by the society. The society might expect people to go an extra mile and do certain things of which the individuals might not be able to accomplish due to their personal constraints; when such a situation is observed then it may be argued that there is an ethical dilemma. Ethical dilemma may also refer to a situation where individuals are indifferent between achieving their own personal objectives and helping the society to achieve its goals.

The dilemma experienced in this case is that the society members especially the rich have to meet their own individual needs but the society expects them to help their poor collogues who are less fortunate; the dilemma is, should the rich carter for their own needs at the expense of the poor or should they extend a helping hand to the poor.

This is a conflict that the society has to address in a fair and human manner, the poor have to be helped but the rich should not be left to bear the entire burden, mechanisms have to be put in place to help the poor despite the conflict at hand.

Cultural Relativism

Cultural relativism refers to the argument that holds bad and good that are relative to culture; that for something to be referred to as good, it must be socially approved in a given society or cultural setting. People’s moral obligations must be strictly based on the norms of the society; the society may dictate its member’s moral obligations in a given way. For our case, we have to look for ways on how to address the problems encountered by the poor people in the US. Here, the society has the obligation of improving the living conditions of its poor members; it has to make each, and everybody to be responsible in uplifting the economically less fortunate individuals, the contradiction is that individuals want to improve on their own personal welfare regardless of what others are undergoing.

The society views individuality as unethical measure and calls for individualism where people, who are wealthy have to come up and distribute part of their wealth to the less fortunate individuals. The system of cultural relativism has some weaknesses accompanied by it; a key among them is that the principle forces individuals to conform to society’s obligations irrespective of the individuals’ personal stands. This is unfair as it denies individuals a chance to carry out their issues according to their wishes. Another thing is that cultural relativism cannot always be true in the sense that something can be socially approved, but it is not good according to the individuals.


Subjectivism argues that moral judgments describes how people feel that for something to be viewed as bad or good the individuals concerned might have felt it. It goes a step further to propose that moral judgment shows how we may feel if we were totally rational. Idealism refers to a situation where an individual has supreme moral wisdom; a person who is fully informed and who is believed to have a lot of concern for everyone.

The principles of subjectivism and idealism are very helpful in any given society since moral judgment can help the individuals in that society to help those who are poor by applying the moral principles of helping the needy. Idealism is of great help when it comes to addressing the plight of the poor in the US since the rich individuals, who are well informed and have impartial concern for their poor fellows can come in and offer substantial help.

For the poor, to receive adequate help, the society has to be informed fully about the situation, feel the situation and develop an impartial concern for those individuals so as to help them. This means that the two principles can be of great help to the poor citizens of the US. Just like any other strategies or ideologies, the subjectivism tends to have a number of shortcomings that includes the following; the condition of impartiality is substantially unclear since it does not stipulate the limits of peoples concern, people ask that should they be concerned about the issues of their close relatives or total strangers?

The idea of being fully informed seems to be unrealistic since it means that people have to access an infinite amount of knowledge, which is a rear situation in the real world, and it even doesn’t make sense to conclude that if people are well informed they will tend to have the desire.


Supernaturalism is an argument that argues that moral judgment represents God’s will; here people tend to believe that, what the society perceives to be morally significant is the manifestation of God’s desire. When it comes to relating it to the plight of the poor in the US, it shall imply that the society has a moral responsibility to help the poor individuals because it views it as the desire or wish of God. People will respond by helping their colleagues to improve their lives as a result of the supernatural circumstances surrounding the whole issue. It is difficult for the non-believers to agree with the society about the issues pertaining to supernaturalism (Goudena et al, 23).

Golden Rule

This rule argues that we must treat others the way we would expect them to treat us; this is a very human argument because we never know what tomorrow holds for us and so we should always be willing to help others; this can be used by the rich people in the US to help their poor countrymen. The rule requires empathy and appreciation of future consequences of our current actions; people might not be more concerned about the future because they feel that they have enough wealth to see them through the future.


It requires us to do things that lead to good results/outcomes for the whole society; this means that the people of America will decide to help their poor counterparts to move out of poverty traps. The major disadvantage of this approach is that it is difficult to determine the consequences of a given initiative early enough, before giving it a try.


This implies that individuals have to help others in the society without necessarily looking at what they will achieve in return or what the consequences shall be. Here the poor can be helped to overcome their challenges easily because the wealthy members of the society are not concerned about the consequences of their initiatives. The weakness of this principal is that it fails to incorporate the effects of help to the helpers; helpers must establish the cost benefit analysis of their aid (Maxi et al, 292).

Aristotle’s Ethics of Virtue

Aristotle argues that man is a rational being and that virtue is between two extremes; the rationality and virtue can be very significant in propelling people to respond to the plight of the poor. One of the limitations of this principle is that we are imperfectly irrational, and at times, the inconsistency of will can occur (Kiehil, 56).

Natural Law

It refers to a tradition that views basic moral laws as objectives based on the nature and knowledge through natural human; this can be of great help to the poor because people views it as their responsibility to help others. The law is non-consequential in nature and may be subjected to the same shortcomings like those affecting the latter (Green, 67).

According to Alan Saars, the disadvantage tends to have structural interests that are negative with the status quo of which once they are assumed, will eventually lead to social change. Thus, the less fortunate are viewed as agents of change rather than objects that the rich shall feel sympathy for. The information is obtained from Sears, A, (2008). A Good Book, In Theory: A Guide to theoretical Thinking. Virtual Printers.

Interviewed Dr. Tom who is one of the leading philosophers and Critical thinkers; I wanted him to clarify how the ethical dilemmas can be avoided in our contemporary societies and he responded that the way out is to address the inequality by transforming the existing relations in the society. He drew his statement from following book: Malcolins, J. (2011). Society, Sociology. New York. Prentice Hall.


Have observed the issues pertaining the ethical dilemma and the plight of the poor in the US, I can confidently argue that it is the responsibility of the federal governments to put measures in place that shall improve the lives of the poor rather than depending on the society.

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