Sunday, August 01, 2004

What about obligations?

Most of us feel plenty victimized in this world when our rights get stepped on. And most of us know what our rights are. They are spelled out in the first 10 amendments to our Constitution, and Congress has added a lot of laws to enforce them. But what about obligations? Do each of us have obligations? What would happen if we had a Bill of Obligations just as we have a Bill of Rights? What would you want in that list? We had an interesting discussion on this at the Billings Association of Humanists today. What would each of us include? What responsibilities do we have to ourselves? to society? to each other? What obligations do we have for honesty, citizenship, responsibility in the broader sense, etc.? For instance, if we don't wear a helmet, or a seat belt, what responsibilities do we have if we get into an accident and get hurt? What responsibilities do we bear toward what we use in common? We had some interesting answers. It is an interesting topic to think about.


Blogger memer said...

Yes, that is a very interesting question. Neat idea, too, this Bill of Obligations. It is the 100 jillion bajillion dollar question.

As a newly minted minarchist libertarian, I'm struggling with this idea of responsibility, too wrt brother's keeper stuff.

Still wrangling with it, but right now i'm leaning toward less obligations than more.

11:42 AM  
Blogger David Summerlin said...

We should be obligated to transparency. Deceit should not be permissible in the public sphere, so we should be obligated to keep our motives plainly visible.
We should be obligated to educate everyone and their children to the best of our abilities, no matter whether we have children of our own. If we are to believe that large populations are capable of weilding power and wealth on their own behalf, we should at least be obligated to a well-educated population with transparent motives.
We should be obligated to give of ourselves whatever we have. As long as everyone in a society commits to that, you'll never have to worry about getting ripped off. And if others won't commit, you don't have to feel ripped off. Cheaters cheat themselves.
Those are three pretty good obligations, and you can implement them in your own life whether or not anyone else chooses to. This is why "liberal" means "generous."

11:34 PM  

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