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Talent and responsibility

  1. sure

  2. not at all

  3. we might be but i don't care

  4. that depends

  1. Nov 9, 2007 #1
    are we responsible towards others-humanity, our country-because of our talents? suppose a very intelligent person who is able to do so many improvements want to spend his time on doing something else other than science.something like a money making job or even do nothing other than daydreaming. is he morally responsible.people tend to like what they are good at, and u can think he's intersted in science but he just doesn't go for it because he thinks that he can't make so many money by doing science or perhaps he's just lazy. what's your ideas?
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 9, 2007 #2


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    People should be able to do what they like. As long as it makes them happy and doesn't harm, even through association, others.

    btw: I don't think the absence of one intelligent, even "very intelligent", person would make much difference to any country's scientific program. In fact, if that person considers themselves above others, maybe it's best for everyone if they do stick to daydreaming.
  4. Nov 9, 2007 #3
    we want to see whether it's morally justified or not. we don't want to see its has a effects on society or science . i hadn't mentioned that person consider himself above all.
  5. Nov 9, 2007 #4


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    I'll give you my opinion:
    Society is there for you ; you are not there for society. I see society as a "deal between different individuals to get out mutual benefit". The goal of your life is to lead a happy life and it is entirely up to you how you achieve that goal. Concepts such as "society" and "humanity" are abstractions: you are not indebted to any abstraction no more than you are responsible with respect to, say, linear differential equations.
  6. Nov 9, 2007 #5


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    Your talents don't come with any "moral obligation" to use those talents. There's not even a guarantee that using your talents would benefit anyone anyway. If you do something else you enjoy, there might be much more chance you'll be successful and provide a benefit to society because you keep at it. Besides, your opening post includes an assumption that one can't benefit society and make a profit at the same time. I don't see that as making much sense. Making a profit is an incentive society offers to those with talent to pursue their talents if society deems that as something beneficial to them...if they can't reciprocate by sharing an equally valuable talent, they offer currency that can be used elsewhere to pay for a service you need.

    The only place morals/ethics would apply is to not use your talents to harm others.
  7. Nov 9, 2007 #6
    Christianity and Judaism do have such an obligation. Perhaps other religions do as well.
  8. Nov 9, 2007 #7
    i hope astronuc explains why he think it does:smile:
  9. Nov 9, 2007 #8
    I entered that it depends. I would currently say that the answer is no, however, as we move along in time, eventually there might be the release of the ability to design your babies for specific enhanced talents. In that case, the kid would not have a choice.
  10. Nov 9, 2007 #9
    I think morally, people with talents should use those talents. Of course, you dont have to, no one is holding a gun to your head. But, we are talking about wether it is moral to waste a givin talent. Its moral to be a good person in life but no one is making you. Just because someone has the right to waste a talent, it does not make it moral. The question of Morality is an entirely different question as to whether soemone has the right to not use it. Talented people were given a gift and to waste a gift I think is immoral, when there is possible good that can come out of that gift. Jutst like if you were given a million dollars, would you not think it would be immoral to burn it when you could have done something so much better with it?
  11. Nov 9, 2007 #10


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    Yes - morality is by choice.

    I can only speak for myself - but yes I have a responsibility to use my talents as best I can to serve all of humanity to the best of my ability. It is a self-imposed obligation. It is a reciprocal arrangement. The socities in which I have lived have provided me an opportunity to thrive and learn, and in exchange I have an obligation to use that which I have learned to the benefit of humanity.

    It's not only Judeo-Christian, but is echoed in most religions and cultures.

    It is in ujima and nia.

    For me it is tikkun olam ( תיקון עולם ).

    My parents and grandparents more or less instilled this in me, but ultimately it is a matter of personal choice.
  12. Nov 9, 2007 #11
    This is the kind of thing church leaders, parents, and teachers said to kids all the time when I was growing up.
  13. Nov 9, 2007 #12


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    Burning the money should be irrelevant. If the church says that, then they're putting value into money, which I believe contradicts other values that they have.

    I don't believe it to be a responsibility to use your talent at all.

    I believe that one should live life in freedom. To have that responsibility is not freedom.
  14. Nov 9, 2007 #13


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    You're assuming it's a gift and not that they just happened to work hard at it like anyone else.

    Though, something else in the OP has caught my attention now. If someone is able to make money at something, doesn't that imply talent in that thing, at least sufficiently so that people will pay them to do it? Why would they do that for free if they can be paid for it? There's nothing immoral about getting paid to do what you're good at...it would be pretty stupid to not get paid for it...how else would you survive? Seems kind of immoral to throw away good talent by starving oneself to death because you gave away your services for free.
  15. Nov 9, 2007 #14


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    The problem with the "gift" is that that means that there's a being on the receiving end and another being at the "sending" end, and that this gift induces some kind of debt of the one at the receiving end to the one at the sending end. That's of course a religious point of view, and from the moment one talks religion, one leaves "morality", as morality is now replaced by the dictate from the Giver, and you're supposed to do whatever the Giver tells you to do, not even for some kind of goodness, but just to avoid you being tortured in the Giver's torture chamber (hell or an equivalent). In other words, is acting under the menace of torture really "behaving morally" ?

    So we have to consider the question outside of any "stick and carrot" religious viewpoint. There are two possible viewpoints: you have some "moral obligation" or you don't. I already argued for the last pov, but I'll analyse a bit further the first. You are having a moral obligation, of course "to do good". That means that your actions are supposed to do "good" in the future. But that poses 2 other problems: what is "good" ? But even if you could answer that, the question is: are you sure that the way you are going to put your talents to use is really going to be "good" in the future ? Or will it lead to a disaster ?

    For instance, we think of course that Stalin was a bad man. But maybe, amongst the 20 million people he killed, he also killed a guy who would have become a bigger evil than Hitler and who would have started WW III or something. You don't know. Also, did Oppenheimer use his talents correctly in developping the atomic bomb ? You can argue that it was going to be develloped in any case, true. But if he'd develloped it a bit slower, say, 1 year later, then probably Japan would have surrendered by then, and there wouldn't have been a use on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. But was this a good or a bad thing ? Was the horror of Hiroshima not what has refrained people later from using nuclear weapons in a conflict ?

    It is very very hard to say that if you do something (of significance), whether this will be good or bad. Oppenheimer hesitated picking up physics: he was also very interested in Sanskrite. Should he have used his talents there or did he do the right thing ?

    To me, life is a random walk, and beyond the very near future, an impenetrable fog doesn't allow us to glimpse where our pads lead us. Hence we don't know, at every turn, whether this is a "good" or a "bad" turn in the long run. And in the end it doesn't even matter.
  16. Nov 10, 2007 #15
    I'm not sure why people keep bringing the church into the argument, when I never even mentioned it. I also think your being abit naive when you say money has no value? Of course money has a value. It can help lives and thats a value to me. So, even if the church does put value into money, which it must because it collecets it for the poor, it realizes that money can do good. You should take all the help you can get.

    So, what was your point of saying this. Are you trying to invalidate the argument by saying this? I dont understand! If so, just becuase your teacher told you this as a kid doenst null the concept.

    Your assuming its not a gift. In my opinion it always a gift! Sure maybe someone put alot of hard work to achieve and maybe they werent the most naturally talented person. But, they were given the gift of chance. Some people never even have that. Some people get into car accidents or are born into third world contries and dont even get the chance. Whether one chooses to use there ability or not will have to be decided on ones own moral ground. I personaly would feel as if I wasted an opportunity if I didnt take it. I feel I can use my talents to do good in the world and I do feel an obligation to use them.

    Once again someone is assuming I am arguing from a religous point of view. Why cant people not assume motive and just listen?

    I very much disagree that this has even anything to do with religion as you made it. You said that my argument implies a giver and a taker and you are right. BUT, I never said who that giver and taker was. Did I! No I didnt! The giver and taker in my mind is the natural way the world works. In order for someone to have alot, it means that some else has to have little. This is the giver and the taker. This is economics. No I dont expect someone to give up all there money and starve. That's ridiculus!!!! I would never even suggest that. But, you have to think that with all that each of us has, it is at someone elses expense.

    Please dont assume someones motive or background. You'll never actually here what the other person is saying. Because you have assumed you already pegged me.
  17. Nov 10, 2007 #16
    I think this is a bit cold. By your logic if I saw a man dying of hunger I mind as well not help him because I have no way of knowing whether this would be an ultimate good or not. Because he might end up being Hitler. I think this is crazy! I mean tell me if I got your point wrong? But, I'll go ahead and take my chances with helping others.

    I am not here preaching I'm just saying I feel empathy towards others and I feel morally obligated on my part as one of the lucky.
  18. Nov 10, 2007 #17
    I feel very much the same way! I wish maybe I could have stated it as beautifully as you did. Then maybe I would have saved my self alot of typing!
  19. Nov 10, 2007 #18


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    In fact, you pinpoint exactly my viewpoint on "helping the poor". I don't consider it of any intrinsic utility, apart from the fact that I myself might feel good over it, or that I might impress someone who sees it by doing so (or at least, not to give the impression that I'm an egoist or something which is usually socially unfavorable) ; in other words, I consider that this is mainly done to confort oneself, one's feelings, one's social status, gaining affection, debt, ... from the people you help etc.

    Yes, so that's part of your OWN happiness to do so. In that case, you should. But not because you are morally obliged or something, but just because it makes you feel better. So I'm just saying that the ultimate and in fact only "obligation" you have, is to try to make yourself happy. This can go through "feeling yourself obliged to act according to one or other moral guideline" if that's the way you think you should be happy, but this is nothing else but a means to be happy yourself. So if you feel obliged to help others, and if handling that way makes you happy, and not doing so makes you feel bad, then you should do so.

    We, as social animals, have developped such feelings (care for the others) because it helps us make mutually beneficial agreements (such as setting up a society). There needs to be some drive that motivates others to "give and take", because otherwise a mutually beneficial agreement is not possible (you'd never give first, because you'd not expect anything back). So there has, deep in our feelings, evolved some kind of "desire to help others" which gives satisfaction (and hence proper direct benefit, namely a good sensation). You can just as well use that property, and give yourself some good time by helping others. But in no way it is a "moral obligation".
  20. Nov 10, 2007 #19
    So then in your Theory, moral obligation does not even exist then? Only a obligation to ones self?
  21. Nov 10, 2007 #20


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    There is no room for temperature in reason! :biggrin:
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