9.12.2006

Broad: A great deal of political philosophy deals with entitlement versus empowerment. Should the government provide X or simply allow its citizens access to X? In a practical example, should the government provide free healthcare or allow individuals to provide their own? The nuances of the debate are far too complicated and long-winded for an undergrad's blog entry, but the root question is simply, "For what is the government responsible and for what is the individual responsible?"

Narrow: Further dissecting the question, bringing it to a personal level, a level on which philosophy becomes a means for living one's life--instead of only a theoretical analysis--one can and should ask, "For what am I responsible and for what is someone else responsible?" With said question, one has the basis for practical philosophy, a lens through which situational analysis occurs on a rational basis.

Topic: One such situation is that of commitment and responsibility to one's parents and vice versa. Obligation occurs in one direction concerning blood relationship: from the roots out. Parents are obligated to raise their children to the best of their abilities, since the child had no say in whether or not to join our existence. From the moment the parents choose, whether by premeditated action or ignorance of the laws of nature, to create a life--I'm referring to the moment of conception--the obligation to protect and nurture the child begins.

Because the child was conceived despite its consent, the child has no "reverse" obligation to the parents after it is old enough to think, reason and live on its own, an age our government sets legally at 18. Alas, before that point, the child is under obligation to obey the parents as long as they are acting in the child's best interests, whether or not the interests are beknownst to the child.

I contend that after the age of 18 the child severs all obligatory ties with its parents unless they exist in contractual form. Even in the event of one parent's death, the child has no moral obligation to A) feel sad, B) attend the funeral or C) help the surviving parent in any way.

Yes, the notion sounds barbaric, but I reiterate my point and ask that you examine my wording. What I describe is obligation, moral duty. Realistically, the child would want to feel sad, attend the funeral and/or help the surviving parent. Indeed, the child would not be immoral to do any of those things. I simply contend that the child is also not immoral for not participating in said actions.

A human is responsible for its own life, not the lives of anyone else including its parents. The only exceptions to this rule are contractual agreements (including marriage) and children.

"I swear by my life and my love of it that I will never live for the sake of another man, nor ask another man to live for mine." - from Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand

No comments: