Responsibility for a Sibling
Q&A Radio: 4 May 2014, Question 3
I answered a question on responsibility for a sibling on 4 May 2014. You can listen to or download the podcast of just this question below – or check out the whole episode of Philosophy in Action Radio.
Is a person responsible for his incapable sibling? Imagine that your brother (or sister) is not capable of taking care of himself: he makes poor choices, he has poor work habits, and he is emotionally immature. Are you thereby responsible for him? Should you try to help as much as possible, so long as you don't drag yourself down? Or should you refuse to help on the principle of "tough love," even though that won't help him take care of himself? If you take the latter approach, doesn't that mean that you're foisting the care for your sibling on society? Wouldn't that be shirking your responsibilities as a sibling? Also, does your responsibility depend on whether your brother is incapable due to his own choices, as opposed to merely bad luck?
My Answer, In Brief: You do not have a moral duty to help a sibling – ever. You might want to (and sometimes ought to) help a beloved sibling suffering from the effects of bad luck or from an honest mistake, as an expression of your caring for them. You should not help a self-destructive sibling if that's a sacrifice to you – particularly not when your help will just enable more self-destructive behavior.
- Duration: 11:52
- Download: MP3 Segment (4.1 MB)
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About Philosophy in Action
I'm Dr. Diana Brickell. I'm a philosopher specializing in the application of rational principles to the challenges of real life. I received my Ph.D in philosophy from the University of Colorado at Boulder in 2009. My book, Responsibility & Luck: A Defense of Praise and Blame, is available for purchase in paperback and Kindle. The book defends the justice of moral praise and blame of persons using an Aristotelian theory of moral responsibility, thereby refuting Thomas Nagel's "problem of moral luck."
My radio show, Philosophy in Action Radio, broadcasts live over the internet on most Sunday mornings and some Thursday evenings. On Sunday mornings, I answer questions applying rational principles to the challenges of real life in a live hour-long show. Greg Perkins of Objectivist Answers co-hosts the show. On Thursday evenings, I interview an expert guest or discuss a topic of interest.
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