Family obligations

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sunflower
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Family obligations

Post by sunflower » Sat Mar 02, 2019 9:00 pm

Hello

I just want to get my head around certain social rules regarding family obligations.

Say, your sister asks you for some money (you are able to spare this money) to pay for some emergency bills. You do not have a close relationship with your sister, and have barely spoken for years. Now let’s say your best friend, for whom you have treated like a sister, also needs some money for emergency bills. You are only able to give this money to one of these people. Let’s say for argument sake that both parties are not in the habit of asking money from you on a regular basis and are unlikely to do so in the future as well. Also, that the need of the money for these people are equivalent.

For whom should you give your money to?

I am under the impression that society will tell you that you have a greater obligation to your sister than to your best friend, despite your relationship closeness.

What do you think here? What is the philosophical reasoning that underlies this impression?

Cheers

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Jebus
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Post by Jebus » Sun Mar 03, 2019 12:56 am

There is no reason a sibling should be given preference assuming all other factors are identical.

These are the only criteria I would consider

Need (what will the money be used for)
Probability of getting my money back in a timely manner
History of loans or other favors; i.e. do you owe the particular person a favor?
How much I like and appreciate the person
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3. Watch Earthlings (Ethics)
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sunflower
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Post by sunflower » Sun Mar 03, 2019 3:53 am

Yes I agree with you Jebus. Given all things equal, do we have greater moral obligation to help our family relatives than to help our non-family relatives in this situation? I don’t understand why we ought to.

Another complicated situation is a wedding. There seems to be an expectation that if your immediate family member (e.g., sibling or parent) gets married, you ought to attend, (or if you are the one getting married you ought to invite your entire immediate family). There is less obligation to non-family members or distant family members. But what if you do not speak to certain immediate family members? What if certain non-family members (or distant family members) are more closer to you than immediate family members? Does this matter here?

I was in a situation where a family member excluded a sibling from their wedding due to a trivial reason (this person has down syndrome and the couple was concerned about this person making noise during the ceremony). Family reactions were mixed here – some said that it is the couple’s decision as to who can attend their wedding and who cannot, and some said that this was really wrong (the person’s parents were very much upset by this).

I was also involved in another situation, where an immediate family member did not want to pay for the out-of-state travel for the wedding, so did not attend. Many family members were quite angry at this family member.

I want to understand, philosophically, what our obligations to our immediate family are, and how this compares to other people. I was upset by the first situation but no really for the second. What do you think?

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Jebus
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Post by Jebus » Sun Mar 03, 2019 7:11 am

sunflower wrote:
Sun Mar 03, 2019 3:53 am
Another complicated situation is a wedding. There seems to be an expectation that if your immediate family member (e.g., sibling or parent) gets married, you ought to attend, (or if you are the one getting married you ought to invite your entire immediate family). There is less obligation to non-family members or distant family members. But what if you do not speak to certain immediate family members? What if certain non-family members (or distant family members) are more closer to you than immediate family members? Does this matter here?
Yes, here you need to consider the other invitees, particularly family members who might be upset if another family member is excluded. Either invite all of them or none of them. I think a trickier issue is how far in the family tree invitations should extend. Should one stop at aunts and uncles or should cousins also be included.
How to become vegan in 4.5 hours:
1.Watch Forks over Knives (Health)
2.Watch Cowspiracy (Environment)
3. Watch Earthlings (Ethics)
Congratulations, unless you are a complete idiot you are now a vegan.

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brimstoneSalad
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Post by brimstoneSalad » Thu Mar 14, 2019 4:28 pm

Jebus wrote:
Sun Mar 03, 2019 12:56 am
There is no reason a sibling should be given preference assuming all other factors are identical.

These are the only criteria I would consider

Need (what will the money be used for)
Probability of getting my money back in a timely manner
History of loans or other favors; i.e. do you owe the particular person a favor?
How much I like and appreciate the person
You can also consider parents here; how would your mother and father feel if you gave preference to a friend over your sibling?
Of course the friend's mother and father would be happy that you lent him or her money, but perhaps less happy than your own parents unhappy about not lending it to your sibling due to expectation.

I would not weigh that very heavily, but it's a consideration that might tip the scales all other things being equal.

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brimstoneSalad
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Post by brimstoneSalad » Thu Mar 14, 2019 4:40 pm

sunflower wrote:
Sun Mar 03, 2019 3:53 am
I want to understand, philosophically, what our obligations to our immediate family are, and how this compares to other people. I was upset by the first situation but no really for the second. What do you think?
Like Jebus said, there aren't innate obligations there, it's just a question of hurt feelings.
You just have to weigh that harm against the alternatives.

In the case of long distance travel, the harm of carbon emissions and opportunity cost from the money you had to waste are probably much greater than a couple hurt feelings from not attending.
In the case of excluding the down syndrome child, there are additional hurt feelings that come from the perceived prejudice against disability and being excluded (which is very different from somebody just choosing not to come) vs... what exactly is the harm from the alternative of inviting the child? Maybe some sounds during the wedding (sounds everybody present would understand, and which wouldn't harm anything)?

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