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If you are a billionaire and you do not donate money to the hungry and the thurst

  1. Feb 9, 2006 #1
    ...does that make you unethical or not???
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 9, 2006 #2
    Rather ambiguous question.

    Ethics are relative-- I can't see how one could be objective to this question.

    If one doesn't donate money to the hungry and the thirsty people, that doesn't mean they're evil. They could have several redeeming qualities, like donating to other charities.

    I think that if you donate, it's good (given that the motives are pure and ethical (boring)), but if you don't donate, there is nothing that makes you unethical.
  4. Feb 10, 2006 #3
    Is this a generic sort of question, or are you trying to figure out what your attitude should be toward some specific billionaire?
  5. Feb 10, 2006 #4


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    You have to be donating for the right reasons.

    If you are donating just because it makes you look pretty or just because you are a billionnaire, I think that's wrong. It's just as bad as not donating at all.

    If the right motivation isn't there, don't bother donating.

    And to answer your question, I don't think it's unethical at all.
  6. Feb 10, 2006 #5
    I'm not sure you could justify this advise, since the recipients benefit regardless of the donor's motivations.
  7. Feb 10, 2006 #6
    Someone who's life was saved because of a donation with selfish motives might disagree.
  8. Feb 10, 2006 #7
    Ethics and morality are completely subjective. On one hand it could be considered appropriate for those who have more than they need to share with those that don't. On the other hand, it could be considered inappropriate to give things to those who did not earn them. While I'm more of a fan of the former, the later could be argued as equally valid. It's all subjective based on the current interpretation of societal values.
  9. Feb 10, 2006 #8
    i emailed noam chomsky about this sort of thing before, & he said in his vast experience what poor people (in any country) want is for the rich/influential/powerful/etc to use their influence, etc to help others. that's all; it doesn't necessarily mean donate all your money to a charity, but it could mean that if you're a billionaire & that's how you want to help out. other people (like chomsky or mike moore) are activists for one cause or another, who get the word out about the way people get by, or the environment, etc. it seems that many people try to call socialists like chomsky, moore, etc hypocrites because they basically haven't taken an oath of poverty ie they rake in tons of cash & somehow that cancels out their socialism. (i could add that bertrand russell lived off an inheritance for many years) what really matters is rich/powerful people doing SOMETHING to help others; that's the bottom line.
    Last edited: Feb 10, 2006
  10. Feb 10, 2006 #9


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    Our question is about the person who is donating, and not the receivers.

    There is too much emphasis on saving lives and what not. I disagree with this type of thought. When I donate, I don't think... "I could be saving someone!" That's not the reason why I am donating.

    Anyways, Aristotle made a lot of good points relating to donating, and I agree with him. They are ethically based, which is the question being asked, so don't forget that.
  11. Feb 10, 2006 #10


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    This is a very strange post for a number of reasons.

    ("Our question?" Are you guys roommates?)

    Anyway, ethics is meaningless in a vacuum. Ethics is about how one treats another, thus the ethical behaviour involves the recipient as well.

    "too much emphasis on saving lives and what not"

    I'm just rolling that phrase around...:approve:

    Reminds me of that imfamous quote "People in third world nations have it good. I'm envious - I'd love to be that thin. But not with all the death and flies and stuff."

    How is "I'm saving someone" not a good thing?

    Either you're donating because you believe you are making someone's life better, or you are donating for your own benefit. Which is it? And how do you call yourself ethical?
  12. Feb 10, 2006 #11


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    So I guess one thing being asked here is:

    Is doing the right thing right regardless of the reason or is it only right if done for the right reason?
  13. Feb 10, 2006 #12


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    Yup. Which brings us back around to 'ask the recipients'.

    Perhaps there's a hidden assumption here - that there is some mystical tally being tracked. If you donate a zillion dollars, but you do it for selfish reasons, does the OP and his supporters think you might not "get points"?
  14. Feb 10, 2006 #13
    This is a good point, I think, and leads to the old saying about teaching a man to fish. Simply using their clout to influence better programs for educating the poor, as an example, is potentially a better thing than some kind of direct cash benefit that helps today but is over with once spent.
  15. Feb 10, 2006 #14

    jimmy p

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    Just look at how much of an impact the Live8 concerts had across the world.
  16. Feb 10, 2006 #15
    If what's good for one person is bad for another then it only follows that Hitler was as moral as Mother Theresa, and that Mother Theresa was as evil as Hitler. I don't buy this. Person A believes x is right and person B belives that x is wrong, people have different moral beliefs which do conflict but this doesn't mean that both person A and person B's beliefs are somehow true, it would be a contradiction.
  17. Feb 10, 2006 #16
    I've struggled with this question for awhile now... Who is a more philanthropic man, Bill Gates for donating $1 billion (hypothetically) or the man who makes 30k a year and donates 1k to victims of Katrina (or whatever)? I think you are right that there is some sort of exponential aspect to it... bill gates calling for donations to African poor is much more influential than me giving my entire lifes earnings... but that couldn't make him more philanthropic than me I don't think (if i did do it).
  18. Feb 11, 2006 #17


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    It sounds just fine to me.
  19. Feb 22, 2006 #18
    i donate to three charities,

    1: NSPCC (National Society for Preventing Cruelty to Children). because i completely dislike anyform of cruelty to children, its sad, cruel and utterly irresponsable and pointless, and most of the children cant defend themselves in any way.

    2: RSPCA (Royal Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) its just as sad cruel and pointless as cruelty to children.

    3: Cancer Research UK. because of a close uncle of mine suffering from cancer which is an awfull disease and needs to be researched and have a cure found as soon as possiable to stop more people suffering.

    yes there are other charities that are just as deserving but these are the three that are closest to my heart.

    am i unethical becuase i choose to only give to certain charities and not others?

    if so everyone is unethical as no-one donates to every worthy cause!
  20. Feb 23, 2006 #19
    Unethical! Given that day after day people die because of hunger and lack of clean water and the same whereas other people buy their tenth car is unethical.

    People who are billionaires, multi-millionaires or millionairs can decide if other people die or if they buy themselves a new house. Simple as that.
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