Mr Rich doesn't owe Rags anything.
If he chooses to give to him, it is illogical to deem this act as immoral.
I don't think it is in any way immoral.
Heck, I think I'll buy a needy person a beer today. I'm on my way to have drinks and fun at the beach and I don't think that someone's misfortunes should necessarily make them enjoying a drink a bad thing.
The immorality comes from thinking you're doing "good" when you buy that drink.
If you don't REALLY want to help then just walk on by.
I can't imagine how you'd support the notion that thinking you are doing good when you are not is immoral, perhaps misguided but immoral?
This seems like an odd "save the world or do nothing" rule you've made, and gone so far as to claim that those not operating under this rule are acting immorally.
Mr. Rich is acting morally, because the purpose of the dollar is to make Mr. Rags happy. Nobody knows what makes Mr. Rags happy as well as Mr. Rags does. His judgment in the matter may well be wrong, but then again, so may Mr. Rich's. Therefore, Mr. Rich is doing the right thing by giving Mr. Rags the dollar and letting Mr. Rags decide what to do with it.
Joe, it seems to me that since we cannot know with certainty what the long-term consequences of our actions may be (a good consequence may even make possible a worse consequence in the future which may in turn make possible another good one, ad infinitum), we must give, in our moralogical considerations, primacy to the intention of the act. I think that Mr. Rich may give to Mr. Rags aid for the ease of his pain out of a sincere and spontaneous compassion without self-consciousness reference to moral principles.
Well, this is the problem with all you folks, who are holding Mr Rich responsible for Rags presupposed behavior.
Mr Rich would have to make a judgement about Mr Rags. And, that judgement would be based on ....what? Rags clothing? I detest this idea.
Mr Rags may be just a poor man, needing food. He may be a drinker--he may not be.
He may be a former drinker... He may have decided that day to quit drinking. He may be asking for money for his child, his friend...
I believe when people allow themselves to make snap judgements on others' motivations based on their appearance, or anything other than absolute knowledge, they become guilty of a much worse immorality than accidentally buying some Thunderbird for a drunk.
there are laws in place for people like the dc snipers. no, we don't praise them for being good marksmen-- but, seeing as you are bringing issues of the law into this, such as donations that may be funding terrorists etc. then it is my opinion that society has a moral obligation to enact some kind of health care law to protect those who cannot help themselves.
on an individual level, because they are not supported by society, the best i can do is give them some money to relieve their burden, even if it's temporary.
Hmmm - question is - what is "good"?
Is giving Rags some pleasure bad?
Ok, his pleasure is not "good" for him in the sense of enhancing his physical health. One assumes that he is drinking himself to death, in fact. However, who has the right to decide that his chosen means to happiness, or numbness, or whatever it is, is wrong for him? if it causes him to hurt other people, then I accept it is "bad" - however, I think it rather puritanical to say drink=bad while food, or investment on the stock exchange, or paying for a bus to get to church, or whatever is your personal definition of what would be "good" for Rags = "good".
However, the people who DO work effectively with Ragses here strongly advocate assisting them with sleeping, eating and food when they wish - and making rehab available - but respecting their decisions as to whether they take them up or not. Interestingly, that is where government policy in my state is going re homeless folk - similarly to harm minimization strategies re drugs.
I think giving Rags a drink is fine. If it increases Rags' happiness, even temporarily, I see that as a good - I would temper that by saying I am talking about confirmed Ragses - I would hesitate to give a nouveau Rags the means to increase his chances of becoming a confirmed rags - I would rather give that money to a proven program for prevention or rehab.
Thinking you are doing good when you are not = false morals.
False morals = "bad".
"bad" = immoral.
No, I'm saying that to give a dollar is an amoral act. To think you are being moral by doing so is an immoral act.
But Rich is reasonably confident that Rags will use it to buy alcohol. And while you presume that Rich's dollar will make Rags happy, Rich can only be confident that the dollar will make Rags drunk -- a state that we can assume is desired by Rags, whether or not it will actually make him happy. So, given Rich's reasonable belief, is it right for him to give the money to Rags?