Haley Goranson

Spiritual Being Having a Human Experience,

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Which is more important, to do right or to do good?

A rich man walks down the street and drop a 20 dollar bill. You know he will not even notice it is gone. On the side of the street sits a beggar who looks really hungry. The good thing is to give the money to the beggar, the right thing is to give it back to the man who dropped it.



- Maybe instead of taking this question , as a question of right and wrong or judgment, perhaps what we can take from this is that there are a variety of opinions and many people have different ideas of what is morally right. That is beautiful to me. This is just an example that good and right are almost undefinable, or at the least the definition is always changing for everyone.

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    Jan 10 2013: I cant agree with you more Paul.

    I find it odd and morally wrong to judge the rich person who dropped the money as someone who will not even notice it is gone. How can we make a judgement such as that? Why is a "rich person" often quickly typecasted as someoen who is not worthy of his or her wealth. Maybe they wroked very hard to get there and saved every penny.

    Similarly a "beggar" could be due to bad choices. Why is a poor person by default seens as a charity worthy individual? There are many who rather Beg, borrow or steal rather than work, earn and straighten up?

    I disagree with the rich being unworthy and the poor being the worthy concept.

    As I stated earlier here too... GIve the man his money back and if you want to be charitable, do it with YOUR time, money and personal contribution. It is morally wrong to be charitable with other persons money.
    • Jan 11 2013: Maaher,
      It seems you are doing the same stereotyping when you quantify that "many (beggars), beg, borrow or steal rather than work, earn and straighten up..."

      I don't know what you do for a living but I might suggest you give your job to 10,000 beggars to help them out.
      Of course, only one can take and do the job, as it is only one job.
      I wonder what the others can do?
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        Jan 11 2013: Hahahaha... I said "similarly a beggar "COULD".... I was merely stating a possibility to consider without making a judgement call...
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    Jan 5 2013: Give the richmans money back to him and give YOUR money to the beggar! This way you do good and right both. Doing good with your time and pesonal contribution is the right things to do.
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      Jan 5 2013: I agree Maaher! I think/feel that MANY times we can do what is right AND what is good:>)
    • Jan 6 2013: Brilliant
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      Jan 6 2013: That is what I would have done. But instead of money I would have given food to the beggar.
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    Jan 5 2013: Point-out the twenty to the beggar and show him/her the guy who dropped it. Maybe the beggar will give it back to the owner who will reward the beggar with a productive career so he/she can become self-suffucient. Or, maybe the beggar will use it for a half-pint of Tokay. Either way you are not responsible. Cheers!
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    Jan 10 2013: This is a little bit off topic, but I couldn't help but notice how so many stereotyped the two characters. It is so interesting to me how, we as a society, tend to label people and things by our judgment of their outward appearance (even if their appearance is in our imagination). Just an observation but really makes me want to consciously stop doing that. Great Question. I'm in the give the money to the guy who dropped it and go help the person I perceive as needing help with whatever he/she needs camp.
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    Jan 8 2013: Hey
    All of you have a point but I see it like this: taking anything that is not rightfully yours is stealing. whether you are going to give it away or not. it is equally wrong taking from a rich person as it is taking from a poor person. I think that modern society has warped our thinking and as was pointed out, why is it assumed that the rich person is not a ''good'' person so he deserves to lose his money and wont even notice it.? As you see that $20 fall, you know nothing about this person and are making presumptions based on your own bias. If you feel strong sympathy for the poor person, then take $20 out of your own pocket and give it to him.
    • Jan 8 2013: "it is equally wrong taking from a rich person as it is taking from a poor person."

      It's not "equally" wrong, stealing $20 (probably more than his daily income) from a homeless man means condemning him to several days without food or shelter, if you steal $20 from a rich man he won't even notice it (of course that changes when a lot of people start stealing $20 bills from him). Both cases are stealing but one is far more damaging than the other and therefore "more wrong".
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        Jan 8 2013: that brings to mind a saying my Mom was fond of saying.. when does two rights equal a wrong?
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    Jan 5 2013: The GOOD thing is ALWAYS the RIGHT thing. There is a way of doing BOTH. But making judgements is always wrong.

    How can you be sure the rich man is rich and the poor man poor. Maybe the man you think is rich is a person who has created jobs and the twenty dollars he drops is part of one of those employee's family income....Maybe the rich man started from a disadvantaged childhood and worked thirty years for his money....etc.etc.etc.
    In this case, I would call the man's attention, and make him aware that has dropped his money...I might suggest, perhaps, that he consider helping the "poor" man sitting on the sidewalk. (I have never found money....I do call people if I see they left an umbrella, a cell phone, a glove, a watch....occasionally I make food for the homeless shelter...and I feel everyone needs a proper job)
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    Jan 5 2013: It's one and the same. Both men beg for money
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    Jan 5 2013: Why not give the person back his $20 and then open your own wallet for the beggar or give him the sandwich from your lunch? You may guess on the basis of your assumptions about the rich man that he will do something you consider wasteful or frivolous with the money, but you actually have no idea what he will use it for- how generous he is, the good cause for which it is intended...
  • Jan 11 2013: Neither.
    Good or right, implies judgement.

    Stick with the truth.

    The item belongs to person A, return to person A.
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    Jan 10 2013: From whose perceptive will we judge this notion of "good and right", from the beggar's view, from the rich man's view?
    The problem assumes that we have only two choices here but there are many more, we can keep the money for ourself, or we might continue walking along pretending not noticing the beggar or the twenty being dropped, and letting events play out without our involvement. We could even tell the rich man he dropped a ten, and still give the other ten to the beggar?
    We tend to see hypothetical situations such as this from the perceptive of the uninvolved observer's point of view. In the real world however this perceptive leads to judging what is wrong, and bad, and not what is good or right.
  • Jan 8 2013: If you just walk down the street and see both of them, you only judge on appearance which one is rich and which one is poor. Maybe the "rich" guy isn't in fact rich and he was just going for some conference and borrowed his friend's clothes, maybe this "hungry" poor guy is just a drunk or a drunk addict who would spend the $20 on cocaine? I learned while living in a Middle East country, that beggars sometimes can be richer than you and it just becomes their daily job to beg. And some people invest all their money in appearance.
    There is also a possibility that it is how you see it.
    What I would do? I would just give it back to the person who lost it and make a suggestion that there is a man who might need it. If I had lost a $20 I would expect someone to give it back and let me decide what to do with it.
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    Jan 7 2013: May I ask why are people adding the option of "Do both. Give the money back and then give some of your own money to the beggar," and adding other variables to the situation to make the decision more personal?
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      Jan 7 2013: Good question Colton....I can only speak for myself:>)

      I suggest that there are several options:>) The person finding the money could put it in his/her own pocket, could give it back to the person who dropped it, or give it to the begger, could give it back to the rightful owner and say the heck with the begger......etc.

      Giving it back to the person who dropped it, would restore the money to the rightful owner. Giving it to the begger would be "taking" something that does not belong to us and giving it to someone else?. Putting it in our own pocket would be keeping something that does not belong to us?

      If we are drawn to giving the begger money, it might seem more appropriate to restore the money to the rightful owner, and give money to the begger from our own pocket? That may satisfy our desire to give money to the begger, and it would be our own money, rather than taking it from someone else?

      I think it IS a personal decision...don't you? We're only talking about $20 here, so it's not an earth shattering puzzle. It is the principle that we are discussing....yes?
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        Jan 7 2013: I agree with you
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        Jan 8 2013: To Colleen- Yes, I see this is a personal (subjective) choice. But I do not think the actual question of "Which is more important, to do right or to do good?" is being addressed properly in the comments here that I have read. In fact, I think the original question is being avoided. What is the idea of "right" and "good"? What makes giving the money to the beggar "good"? What makes giving the money back to the man who dropped it "right"?

        The original question itself is not about all the variables that could go into a situation like this that could effect one's decision, but it is about attributes that describe each side of the question, "good" and "right" respectively, and seeing which is the "moral" choice. This requires the questioning and analyzation of Utilitarian (consequence-based) ethics and Kantian (duty-based or rights-based) ethics. Instead of adding possible variables, we need to decide on a formula to use. This is where the personal choice lies, in finding one's method to use.
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          Jan 8 2013: Yes....as you insightfully say Colton...it is a personal choice...moral choice...ethics...etc. I totally agree..."personal choice lies in finding one's method".

          That being said, it may be unlikely that "we" as a group will totally agree on the question and answer, because each of our methods may involve different personal choices. This little exercise demonstrates some of the underlying challenges with global issues, don't you think?
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    Jan 7 2013: There is even more than just "a bit of judgement" in both: "right" and "good". With all due respect the example is just cute, but merely just addresses the issue of what makes someone feel good for a moment. Social injustices have deep roots and cannot be fixed at pavement level. Sometimes I give something to someone I believe can benefit from a small donation. Sometimes I decide just to ignore such a person. I am painfully aware of the person's need, but selfishly keep my money in my pocket. What is each human being intitled to?
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    Jan 7 2013: It seems impossible to pass a moral judgment without hypocrisy or to do a good deed without hidden vanity. It may be wise to keep both in secret.
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        Jan 7 2013: Re: "Best to just play along, and convince ourselves in the process."

        I'm not sure if it's best, but this seems to be how it is :-).
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        Jan 7 2013: I guess, you just hypocritically exposed the hypocrisy of my own "moral teaching" thus confirming it :-). Confessing hypocrisy seems to be the only way to avoid it. I've heard, this goes for other "sins" too.
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    Jan 7 2013: Nothing is right / wrong, good / bad only thinking makes it so.

    Would have notified the man that he had dropped his money.
  • Jan 6 2013: First point:
    Since when exactly is giving money to beggars a good thing?
    You cannot, before hand, say that it is a good thing... Perhaps he's a drug addict... uses the 20$ to give himself a lethal dose of whatever....
    On the other hand perhaps he can use the 20$ to get shelter for a few days without having to beg all the time and be able to use that time to get back in touch with society, perhaps giving him a job and tada his life is saved.
    If it is a good thing to give money to beggars than why not give him 20$ of your own?
    Don't you want to do good? Or can you really not afford to miss 20$? If so then why is it ok to give someone else his 20$?

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    Second point:
    If someone is the rightful owner of something... and he misplaces it. He is still the rightful owner than, if it is known who he is, taking what is his is called stealing. (when it is unknown you should attempt to get to know who he/she is but with money this is so extremely hard that I wouldn't know where to start with it. In which case (in my eyes) it becomes the finders... but this is hard to justify)
    Which is obviously a bad thing. Even when you can justify stealing from the rich and giving to the poor this is still wrong. The only reason why Robin Hood is a hero is because the rich (in robin hood) became rich by extortion of the people who therefor became poor. So he was merely returning money that was stolen from the poor.
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      Jan 7 2013: Good point Rchard,

      Add this, dint the rich man see the beggar on his own ?
      Are you also another rich man or another struggling person as well ?
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    Jan 6 2013: Here is the simple solution. Do both, return the money, then buy the beggar a meal with your own money.
    • Jan 7 2013: Hi david, I love your response so much. Why must feeding the beggar be from money that fell from somebody?if a man thinks of doing good it is divine for him to pay the price. In this case he should with his own money buy food for the poor beggar.
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    Jan 5 2013: Over my door is a sign "Return With Honor". That would, in my opinion involve "Choosing The Right". In your example it is a straight forward option of choosing the right. Doing good should never be at the expense of others. Many people do a good deed for all the wrong reasons. Doing the good work is private and personal if you seek credit or building brownie points I question your deed and your motivies.

    In my life it is important to do both. But never one at the expense of the other.

    All the best. Bob.
  • Jan 5 2013: Give money back to the rich guy; his money is not your business. And give the beggar what you can afford from your own wallet.
    It'll be good and right :)
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    Jan 5 2013: what is not right, can not be good, and what is not good, can not be right. in such cases, good and right are the same thing.
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      Jan 5 2013: That, sir, is a matter of opinion. :-D
  • Jan 10 2013: Very good. You posed a question and then gave the only possible answer. A pleasure to read a TED post from a intelligent person, so rare.
  • Jan 9 2013: hi haley ,according to me both are important and sometimes accidently people want to do good to others but it happens to be the wrong way or vice versa .Yes it is the situation or may different perspective of people which define what is right and good.
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      Jan 9 2013: Kate Blake is correct our history does change our perspective, and like or not our judgments. I don’t if it is possible to not to, but we need to recognize that we are and allow for that.
  • Jan 9 2013: When doing the right thing would mean not doing a good thing then you should re-evaluate what the right thing is.
    When doing good means you cannot do the right thing you should try to change the world.
  • Jan 8 2013: I think it is completely depends on the situation,naturally it's better to do right things,but sometimes something may change our reaction to the specific problem and I think this usually is because of our character that we always consider our benefits.And here we define doing this work is good or better for us,because it's advantages are more.
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    Jan 8 2013: There is this urban legend about David Crockett:
    http://www.neusysinc.com/columnarchive/colm0009.html

    You can read the background of the story in the link, but here is an interesting passage relevant to this discussion: "When the opportunity came to vote on a relief bill for the widow of a naval officer, he offered in his speech to donate one week's salary to her cause, but not to vote public funds for it. The House followed his lead in voting down the appropriation, but not a single other member contributed any of his own money (though they had been ready enough to contribute that of the taxpayers)."
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    Jan 8 2013: You seem to make the same point as Dan Ariely in his talk "Our buggy moral code"
    http://www.ted.com/talks/dan_ariely_on_our_buggy_moral_code.html
    where he points out that our attitude towards cheating changes depending on the amount (e.g. $20 vs $1,000) and also depending on the social group we associate ourselves with (how we perceive the man who dropped the money). He has an example of how attitude towards academic cheating depends on the "color of the T-shirt" of the person who cheats. This may point towards the roots of discrimination by sex, race, religion, ethnicity, or other "appearance" factors.

    Something to think about and to watch in ourselves.
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    Jan 7 2013: There are too many factors to consider. The person finding the 20$, the person who lost the 20$ and the beggar.
    Like Don Anderson said - we are assuming that the person is evil. He might have that 20$ intended to another NGO or needy person.
    Then you have to think about that beggar - did his downfall into poverty lie in his hand or was it out of his hand? Is he going to go buy food or clothes or will he spend it on alcohol or drugs.
    Then there is you - what you personally think of the situation. Is the beggar more deserving or is the person who lost it more deserving because it was a result of his work?

    Honestly, I can't even tell you what I would do myself. It really depends on so many different things that might be in that situation itself.
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    Jan 7 2013: The answer depends whether the rich man makes more than $400,000 per year or not.
    • Jan 7 2013: I disagree.
      Still his.
      I think the amount of money the rich man makes per year shouldn't affect our judgment.

      Could be a shaky moral code, especially for this kind of situation.
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        Jan 7 2013: Re: "Could be a shaky moral code, especially for this kind of situation."

        It's not a "moral code" - it's U.S. tax code. What you just said implies that entitlement programs have questionable moral foundation.
        • Jan 8 2013: Whoa, in that case, with all due respect, I suspect you misunderstood my comment.
          What I just said doesn't imply 'that entitlement programs have questionable moral foundation'. You just inferred it anyhow...?

          By 'shaky' I mean, in that situation—where the rich man drops his money and we happen to have a chance to make some moral decision—we shouldn't make our moral judgments based on the 'amount' of the money he makes per year. Whether he is just affluent enough to be called ‘a rich person’ or exceptionally rich like Bill Gates, we have no right to use his money on our own terms.

          U.S. Tax code and equality…. Provided that this tax code is applied to every rich person, why should it be the guy who accidentally drops his money on the street? He shouldn’t have walked on the street, perhaps. lol Variable situation.
          What if there’s three of them? But just only one drops his money? Knowing the other two men are not required to donate—so to speak—their money to the beggar, would it sound fair to him?
          Again, his dropping the money on that very street in which the beggar is wandering is a coincidence. His being there is a random event.
          I suggest we give the money ‘back’ to the rich man and appeal the government to make rich people pay more taxes (for the poor, and further, for equality of the society). IMHO, entitlement programs don’t have questionable moral foundation. The fact that your answer would depend whether the rich man makes more than $400,000 per year or not seems, I quote, ‘shaky’ on that very street.
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        Jan 8 2013: Hi, Elizabeth. I understand what you say and I agree with you. In my opinion, how we treat people should be based on who we are and not on who these people are. If we believe that taking other people's property is wrong, we shouldn't adjust this rule based on income level, sex, race, or religion.

        I don't want to force any agendas, but still, it amazes me how people change perception of, essentially, identical actions depending of the circumstances. Forceful taking property from people is called "robbery" and is a crime UNLESS it is committed by the government. Then it's called "taxes".

        We are so used to government entitlement programs that we no longer perceive them as they are: forceful taking money away from one group of people and giving it to another group of people. Does this make us kinder or more empathetic? I don't think so. I think, social programs based on voluntary charity could be far more abundant and have much deeper impact on society than mandatory charity with other people's money. There is no love without a sacrifice.
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    Jan 7 2013: i think it completely depends on the scenario who are in.
    As u mentioned the above scenario , I think the right and good thing will be to go and give back the money to the person who owns it and it would be right if you help the beggar by yourself.
  • Jan 6 2013: For me, I have to look behind the concept of 'right' and 'good.' Some will say subjective. Some will say objective. For instance, I think it was Garrett Hardin that wrote about Lifeboat Ethics. Earth as a Lifeboat with limited resources. Sure, there is debate about the capacity of the lifeboat, but there is a limited capacity. So, he would suggest we do no favors for the human species by lifting individuals out of the gutter that can not lift themselves out of the gutter. You are disabling the species, from an evolutionary stand point, by helping the weak, lame and those of lower IQ. From a purely biological species stand point, to do so is wrong and bad. On the other hand, what is morality? From one culture to another cultural norms vary, but I believe it was CS Lewis that identified 12 or 13 moral norms that occur in virtually every culture he could examine during his time. Myself, return the $20 to the owner and take the other person out for a meal.
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      • Jan 7 2013: Mark, I took your advice and read your other posts. From my point of view there is not much worth reading. I guess I would call it convoluted, amorphous, circular, judgementalism that fails to make any cognizant point. Your opinion seems to be that all us other slime life are trapped in our cognitive soup and seem to have joined in corporate back patting for self aggrandizement and emotional massage while getting boiled alive without knowing it as the heat of the soup rises. In the mean time, I can't figure out if you are one of us, or you stand outside of us. Seems like you are a little reluctant to take responsibility for your own views. Much more, "Come on, we are all this way and you all know it." You talk about all of us, then write you are not part of all of us. Do you actually live as you write? I know a gazillion people, give or take a few, that have certainly risen at least a little above how you view humanity.
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    Jan 6 2013: I personally would have gave the money back to the man and then went somewhere to buy the homeless man food. I myself have a hard time separating "right" from "good". I guess what is right or good would change depending on who you are. I also suppose there is a bit of judgement when it comes to what is good.
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      Jan 7 2013: This question is almost the same as the Moral -vs- ethical argument.
  • Jan 6 2013: What's actually important is that you try to best account for your own actions as to what's right and what's good rather than making superficial judgements about other people as to what you deem to be right or good in their behavior.

    Suppose the bagger as an adult drug addict had kidnapped and raped a young innocent girl and he was never found or convicted. His drug abuse finally caught up with him and no one can stand to be around him. So now he's being a nuisance, or in many cases a serious community problem begging for money. Does he deserve anyones money? No, what he really deserves is to be brought to justice, but that won't likely happen.

    The right thing to do in my opinion is follow the golden rule and return the money to the owner. That act will make you a BETTER person. If upon returning the twenty dollar bill to me, you suggested that I SHOULD give it to the bagger, I would like to think I'd have the wits to say, "Okay, but you need to match my gift with your own twenty." Obviously, that wouldn't happen. It's much easier to give away someone else's money than your own.

    I do believe in charity. My favorite in assisting people needing help is the Salvation Army. Many unfortunate people deserve and appreciate this kind of personal community service. Sometimes you can volunteer if you are short of funds.
  • Jan 6 2013: Isn't doing the right thing by extension always doing a good thing?

    Doing the right thing implies it is a expected action recognized as being the culturally accepted practice.

    Doing a good thing isn't as clear cut.

    It usually involves a charitable act but not everybody agrees with all charitable actions. e.g., giving money to a wino.

    Doing a good thing can only be determined as good in the mind of the individual doing it.

    So what's more important to you? Maintaining culturally accepted practices that we need to support to function as a society or appeasing your own conscience. Tough decision.

    At some point in the whole exchange, you made a judgement that the beggar deserved the $20 more than you or the rich guy. Why couldn't you then simply give him what you can afford out of your own pocket.
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    Jan 6 2013: The best thing will be to tell the rich that he has dropped 20 dollars and then request him if it is allright to give it to the beggar. I am sure he will not refuse and then both the results are achieved!
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      Jan 6 2013: Hmm you add an interesting dimension.

      Be right
      Be good
      Be best

      Something to think about.
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    Jan 6 2013: It all depends. We cannot see the end result of our decision. If I give it to the beggar, she might use it for drugs. But maybe she would use it for food and stave off hunger for another few hours. If I give it back to the rich man, he might use it to tip a doorman whose family is struggling. Or he might use it to light a cigar. (Actually I cannot imagine a rich person running around with twenty dollar bills.)

    You cannot know if giving it to either is right nor good. So keep it.
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      Jan 6 2013: I found this question on a page about philosophy, and just thought it was interesting. I know what I would do in this situation. I would give the money back to the rich man and then go buy food for the homeless man. I love reading the comments :).
  • Jan 5 2013: Do both. Get change for the $20. Give $10 to the man who dropped the money and $10 to the beggar. After all, the rich man likely has more 20 dollar bills on his person anyway and the beggar would be able to at least afford some food.
  • Jan 5 2013: what you should do is the right thing and give the money back but then do the good thing and give the beggar some of your own money
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    Jan 5 2013: Well first I believe, one would have to ask one's self, what defines "good" and "right," within the grounds of this situation or otherwise? What end goal or result makes these two choices "good" and "right"? Is it overall happiness or pleasure (which is consequence based), or upholding a social code (which is duty based)?

    Which procedure and definition would you choose?
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      Jan 5 2013: Good questions Colton....questioning is good:>)
    • Jan 6 2013: Again, same as utilitarian versus Kantian as it were. As you said, it depends on me choosing a standard of moral code.
      It seems like we have a right to decide which person to give the money in that moment.
      Think about it. If you hadn't noticed him dropping the money, you wouldn't have had a chance to struggle with this moral dilemma in the first place.

      The fact that you were the one to make a choice makes you feel like this is up to you.
      And considering the situation, it appears reasonable anyhow.
      If giving the money to the beggar seems 'good' and 'right' to you, then you should remember that you do it to make you feel good about what you decide to do. Unconsciously, you want to feel satisfaction, rewarding feelings of doing the good thing. Or you might smile on the way home while thinking of the beggar spending that day with warm milk and bread ‘thanks to’ you.
      It’s possible that it wasn't right. But it felt right to you.
      On the other hand, if giving the money back to the rich person seems right to you, then you should also remember it's not because your choice is primarily the right choice, but you believe it to be. You think you're being consistent with your moral code. It may not bring you some fulfilling feelings of helping others, but you would still have some kind of achievement that you do the right thing no matter what.

      There may be various reasons why you're struggling with that money on the road.

      But you yourself are also part of variable factors at that moment—what if you weren't there? What if someone else took it before you even reached your hand the money? etc.

      You don't get to judge what's right, but you get to think.
      By including the beggar in the situation, you complicate the situation.
      Personal choice becomes the big moral decision of the humanity.
      And whatever we decide, in either way, we think there was no alternative. We think we did what’s for the best. "I could have taken the money." You whisper.
  • Jan 5 2013: I suggest to give the money back to the rich guy and encourage the beggar to identify his work skills to be utilized daily. This allows the beggar personal status to change greatly......................

    Doing Right and Doing Good is a matter of personal opinion................money and proverty has various values to many people..........................
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    Jan 5 2013: My Prefernce is To do right as if we do right good will automatically happen, In this story probabilty can be
    - The man after receiving his $ might give to begger (Good Happens)
    - You did your duty of giving the $ to man it belonged to ( You feel good your did right)
    - The first episode itself is man dropped 20$ bill and not the hungery beggar ( Logically he should get his $)

    Sometimes because of doing good we forget the importance of RIGHT leads to unhappiness
  • Jan 11 2013: If I actually saw the man drop it, it would be my gut reaction to say 'excuse, looks like you droped something.' I might not even know what was dropped before I'd react.

    If I saw a twenty on the ground, not knowing where it came from, then I would probably keep it.

    If I saw the twenty on the ground, not knowing where it came from and saw a person that appeared in distress, I might give it to them, if it was convenient for me. I probably wouldn't go to the corner, wait for the light, cross traffic, wait for teh light again to come back across, etc.

    In fact, if it was that far away, I might not have even noticed someone across the street in such need. But if the person in need was in my the path of my destination, then I probably would give it to them, unless I was in dire straits as well.
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    Jan 11 2013: In most of cases we put it in our own pocket which is both bad & wrong.
    • Jan 11 2013: It is neither bad nor wrong.
      You are mainly speaking about yourself when you say, "we put it in our own pockets."
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        Jan 11 2013: you look drunk. your two sentences contradict eachother. what i said is what i have seen i dont know why you took it personally.
  • Jan 11 2013: Be in the moment.
    It is probably "wrong" not to be.
    The money is there. Do what you will do with it. Why turn it into a neurosis?
    We think (too much. that is one of our problems), what we do will have consequences but we really have no idea on the consequences that may really be occuring. Thinking we do is just pretending to be a God of sorts. It sounds like a God that just doesn't know what the hell to do.

    Someone watching you may think of you as a thief. Another passing by on a bus may think, "what a nice thing that person just did." A third crossing the street may be disgusted that you gave it away while another impoverished soul may assault the person you gave it too.

    Stop being neurotic. Do what you will do with it based upon how out-of-touch you are with yourself.
    It's not a dilemma, it's not a moral dilemma, it's not much of anything except a brief action taken or not taken.
    Be selfish, unselfish, feel guilty, not guilty, be true to thyself or betray yourself.
    What ever you do, live with it. You have to one way or the other.
    The only way not to, is to lie to yourself, one way or the other.
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      Jan 11 2013: We think (too much. that is one of our problems)

      I would suggest we don't think enough. It's too common for people to act without thinking, which then leads to habitual behavior that leads to many of the problems we encounter on a daily basis. Thinking critically is a necessity and a responsibility.
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    Jan 10 2013: To do good Of course, .................................................................................................................................................
    .................................................................................................................................................. "Other is philosophy" .
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      Jan 11 2013: So what is the most good action in the situation proposed in your opinion?
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    Jan 9 2013: What is good?
    We commonly consider NGOs as good, and yet they have done harm in Africa.
    So is good just a desire to help others or is good just results that help others?

    So does good desires that end in results that harm = bad?
    And does bad desires that end in results that help = good?

    And confuse it even more, in my life I have had several experiences that were bad at first and in time turned out to be good.
    Example getting laid-off and then getting a better job that I would not have been looking for if you had not been laid-off.


    P.S. on NGOs doing harm; I refer you to Ernesto Sirolli’s TED Talk.
    http://www.ted.com/talks/ernesto_sirolli_want_to_help_someone_shut_up_and_listen.html
  • Jan 9 2013: The right thing to do is usually the good thing to do, but you've only listed 2 'options' (good or right) when actually there are potentially dozens. What's impossible to overcome is the fact that "right" is subjective, so this is really a false dilemma. There are too many variables in the real world to paint a black-and-white picture of 'right and wrong' or 'good and bad'. It just doesn't work that way.
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    Jan 9 2013: It's surprising.Where are you from ? you know,your now major is my mother tongue.Or did you mean Professional Chinese?
    • Jan 9 2013: Oh, you replied here.
      I'm a Korean. I'm going to learn Chinese for a couple of years in college
      So, you're a Chinese. Glad to meet ya :)
      I don't know how to speak Chinese yet--which means I'm definitely not in professional level yet lol, but I will be able to do it.
      Thank you for your reply

      Best wishes
      Liz
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        Jan 10 2013: Glad to meet ya ,too.
        And,Congratulations!You will be a college student starting from this March.
        Under your confidence,you will make it.
        It's my pleasure to give you some advice-Though, it may not so professional than your teacher-with my knowledge in Chinese if there is any question in your future-studying of the language.you may don't mind it.
        • Jan 10 2013: Thank you for your kind words~ :)
          I'll be so grateful for your help with studying my Chinese.
          Btw, I can't send you any emails 'cause there's no "Send an email to Frankey Chang" button on your profile.
          In case you don't want to reveal your email address, I'll write down my email address here.



          Would you mind sending me your email so that I can keep in touch with you in the near future?
          I’ll look forward to your email
          Regards~
          Liz
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    Jan 9 2013: Some of the conflicting values here are the belief it is generally positive to assist the poor while also positive protecting justified asset ownership.

    The most difficult moral dilemmas usually involve a clash of values.
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    Jan 9 2013: I suggest you give the rich guy his money and donate your own money to Mr homeless.

    Interesting how you categories right versus good.

    Not sure how you differentiate doing right from good.

    Isn't it interesting how we have evolved little morality calculating cognitive engines. But we all come up with different assessments and conclusions.
  • Jan 9 2013: Anybody can sit and ponder the definitions of what right and good are for all of eternity and no one will end up being right or wrong on their views of the subject. At it's very core each subject of the matter is entirely subjective. I personally care to look at the situation more analytically rather than based on emotions. And doing so I can see a few basic outcomes to the situation, although not limited to only these listed.

    One, the person can give the twenty dollars back to the person who dropped it, not assuming whether that person is rich or not and you'll feel better for being kind enough to give it back. Two, you give it to the man who by appearance seems to be in a worse off situation than yourself. This situation will make you feel better about yourself because you potentially saved a life. A third outcome, is you pass on by not caring to give the twenty dollars to either of them, and hoping that the next person that notices the twenty dollars will make that decision. Here you come out the same as you went in.

    Now I personally view it as this, you can gain positive feelings from either of the first two options. And in this particular situation you can possibly satisfy both. So how can you make both parties happy? How do you give the twenty dollars back to its original owner and yet still potentially save a life, thus gaining double the positive feelings. Assuming that that man is in fact starving, you could then ask yourself, do you just feed them once only satisfying their hunger for a short period of time. Or do you help that person get a sustainable income in order to potentially feed them for a lifetime. A simple feed a man a fish, teach a man to fish scenario. And who knows how that person might react to such an act of kindness. They may go out and try to show others such acts of generosity.

    So as you can see, by not biasing your decision on the emotional ideas of right and good. You can potentially come out pleasing every one, including yourself.
  • Jan 8 2013: Besides the question of one being more important than the other, there is also the possibility for one coming first and the other coming second. Which could be seen as a personal, spiritual, development.

    Most of the subjects that Swedenborg deals with have to do with, and relate to, Truth and Good. One aspect of the relationship of good and truth is that truth comes first and good develops later. Several stories in the Old Testament deal with a first born loosing all birth rights to the one born second. Jacob and Esau and the sons of Joseph where they are both blessed by their grand father who crosses over his arms during the blessing.

    Basically it is comparable to first (in time) getting a driver's license, but the use of the license later is more important.

    To do things because they are right (or following truth) is us doing them while following certain rules and expectations. Kids do not want to be punished, adults do not want to loose their reputation, or wealth. So we do things right.

    At some point in our life we are hoped to switch to doing good things because we love to do things that are good. When we do good things, only because we love doing good, not because we want to get wealthier etc. we are angels even before our body dies.
    That was my sermon for today :)
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    Jan 8 2013: I think that there is .5 probability of both the things both good and right are equally measurable stuffs I think that we should do good more often than doing right. So I would prefer anyone to do good but both the things are equal so what a person think he can do.
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    Jan 8 2013: Which approach to this situation are we taking? Consequence based or Duty and Rights based? Utilitarian or Kantian? Before we can add variables to the situation, we need to establish a method and formula.
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    Jan 7 2013: Let’s change this little; a man needs a kidney and the other man has two kidneys.

    Should it matter if the man in need is an obese drunk or a wounded healthy police officer? Or rather the other man is an obese drunk or a healthy police officer?

    If a rich man wins a lottery we can hope he does good with it, but we do not have the right to take it from him and give it to some else. Nor his summer house, second car, or the $20 he dropped.
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      Jan 7 2013: Hi Don,
      I would not give up a kidney for an obese drunk. He is showing me that he cannot, or will not take care of his body, so I would not give him part of my body. Anyway, I don't honestly think they would do a kidney transplant on an obese drunk. They might encourage him to lose weight and stop drinking first?

      I also do not believe they would TAKE a kidney for transplant from an obese drunk...his organs are probably not in very good shape because of the alchohol....do you think? They usually take only healthy organs for transplant.

      I agree....it is not appropriate to take something from one person (rich or poor) and give it to someone else:>)
    • Jan 8 2013: "If a rich man wins a lottery we can hope he does good with it, but we do not have the right to take it from him and give it to some else. Nor his summer house, second car, or the $20 he dropped."

      Why do we not have that right? Granted it would be highly unfair and disruptive if it happened randomly but doing it systematically is an accepted practice (taxes) and there is no fundamental reason why that couldn't go as far as not allowing people to have a second home? Accumulating as much wealth as you can get your hands on is not a human right (except to libertarians). I'm not saying a Nobel Prize winning scientist or a an exceptionally distinguished soldier don't deserve the reward of having a second home, but I can understand why people get angry when people with comfortable desk jobs, a mediocre level of education and no special accomplishments get to have 27 homes and a superyacht while other people who do back breaking labor barely get enough food to survive.
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        Jan 8 2013: Society requires rules and the rules must ably equally to all, and without society there is anarchy and with anarchy you have nothing. (No schools, no jobs, no phones, no laws, no noble prize.)
        To me “you earn it, you own it” is a basic rule in society. And that applies to wealth, respect, trust, health, intelligence, wisdom, spirituality, friends and anything.

        Why do you think we do have the right and who gave us that right?
        Is it a god given right?
        A government given right?
        or something each of us decide for ourselves?
        and why limit it to wealth, why not a limit on number of friends or amount of education?
        • Jan 8 2013: "To me “you earn it, you own it” is a basic rule in society."

          The IRS disagrees, so do I and I think most people, especially people from outside the United States but also a majority within the United States.

          "and why limit it to wealth, why not a limit on number of friends or amount of education?"

          Joe being friends with Jack doesn't prevent David from being friends with Jack at the same time. Joe controlling a disproportionate amount of resources necessarily limits the amount of resources David can control, because the total amount of resources is limited and in reality neither Joe nor David are brilliant scientists who can discover ways to harness resources more efficiently all on their own. Education takes up resources, so yeah, there should be a limit somewhere, but 99.999% of the people would never obtain the 15 or so university degrees required to hit that limit.
  • Jan 7 2013: Suppose there isn't a rich man on the road.
    The beggar seems so hungry.
    You have no obligation to give him some of your money.
    But if you think you should give him your money, say, a 20 dollar bill, then, do whatever you want.
    It's your choice.


    But when a rich man comes between you and the beggar, things seem to change somehow.

    You figure since he's rich, he wouldn't care about some of his little money.
    In the mean time, you would no doubt the beggar would be desperately in need of the money.

    Being aware of rich-poor gap might make you rage.
    ‘Cause you happen to care about Fairness.
    As I mentioned earlier, by including those two parties—the rich man and the beggar—together, you complicate the situation.

    The rich guy has nothing to do with the beggar.
    Perhaps, so does the beggar.

    Consider the situation where the beggar regards your action—giving the rich man's money to him—as wrong. Does it ever occur to us that he wouldn’t be up for that?



    Another assumption here.

    What if, instead of $20, the rich man drops his wristwatch?

    If the watch seems expensive, you give it back to the man, but if it seems cheap, then would you give it to the beggar and tell him to sell it?

    What's the difference between one's money and his belongings?
    Money also belongs to the one who possess.

    I've seen a few great solutions, such as, giving back to the money to the rich man and buying some food for the beggar.
    But whether you give something to the beggar after returning the money to the rich man doesn't matter.

    It’s inspired by your emotional pain: you feel sorry for him anyhow.

    Leave the rich man alone. His walking on the road is a coincidence.
    If you look into the deep inside of you heart, you’d realize your decision depends on so many variables. If you want to make people donate their money and help the poor, then speak up toward the government and your fellow citizens.
    You’re allowed to convince them, but not allowed to be Robin hood.
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      Jan 8 2013: you have a excellent and logic mind,so does your comment.I really want to know your major.May you tell me about it?
      • Jan 9 2013: Thank you, Frankey.
        My major, starting from this March, is Chinese.
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    Jan 7 2013: I find this conversation saddening.

    To assume the man is evil “rich and that he will not even notice it is gone” and the beggar is worthy of the stolen money is arrogant to think anyone have the right to make such snap judgments’. As far as you know the man is runs several NGOs including the local food bank, and is on his way to meet a new donor. And FYI he can provide over a dozen meals with $20, and that bagger is not working in order to not pay child support.

    Personally some may see how little I give to charity and incorrectly judge poorly.
    I have some basic rules to being charitable;
    1. Don’t be in need of charity or in need as little as possible.
    2. Do what you can do insure you will never need charity.
    3. Help other that desire to help themselves, but need a helping hand to get there.
    I was dx. 10-years ago with a health issue and I could be on charity, but instead I work every day to stay self-reliant and to be sure that I will for as long as possible.

    I’m sure those who did the Salem witchcraft trails of 1693 believed they were doing good.

    I believe the best we can do is live by "The Nine Noble Virtues" and to me, judging others is not a virtue.
    In fact hospitality should be given to all, no matter their nationality, sex, education, wealth, or religion.
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    Jan 7 2013: Yet another great example for those who believe that moral questions can be solved by reason... or science... Reason can justify any moral or immoral act with equal success. Let me add some spice to this soup: How do you know that the beggar won't spend the $20 on drugs? Forget the beggar. What if YOU have two starving children at home? It's often best not to give much thought to such dilemmas, but to "go by the book".

    Robbing Paul to pay Peter (charity at the expense of others) seems neither right nor good. Returning property to the owner and giving are completely separate moral imperatives. I like your own answer. Buying food to the beggar rather than giving him $20 also seems wise.
  • Jan 7 2013: This one always stumps me. I wonder if telling the beggar I'd give him the same amount of money if he himself gave the dropped money back to the person who lost it would have an effect. I am all for helping others, but most importantly helping them to do for themselves. The do-the-right-thing action would be rewarded and help would be given. I can think of a million reasons why this might be counter-productive, but I do believe many of the answers to today's problems will be found through creativity, understanding, and collaboration
  • Jan 7 2013: Are the two always mutually exclusive? Both of those words are so subjective. Technically, you could argue that giving the $20 to the beggar would be the right thing to do. And you could even argue that it's the good thing to do at the same time. But then you could go on to argue that giving the $20 to the rich man is also a good and right thing to do.

    Or maybe the right thing to do is to give the $20 to the rich man and the good thing to do is to give your own $20 to the homeless man. It just seems more complicated to me than the situation you described.
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    Jan 7 2013: It is a question worthing being discussed and a question like this could make us think more deeply about our life and about us.But relating to "Which is more important, to do right or to do good?",I don't think there is a unique answer.If It does,terrible!We all will do the same thing.The society need diversity of anything.WHICH(above) all should be done by us.
    So,think about it,hear the voice from your heart-deep,do it follow your heart.Then,our world would have the "to-do-good" and the "to-do-right"(I don't think we have the same idea).
  • Jan 7 2013: If you are talking about scooping someone off the sidewalk, escorting them to a restaurant and picking up the tab, nope, I've never done that. However if you are talking about helping people who could not help themselves and were asking for help, yes, I've done that, including feeding them, many times. My WOULD wasn't just hypothetical. It was based in part on looking at what I have done in the past. Talking BS? No, just thinking out loud.

    My comments weren't aimed at narrowing the conversation to my particular actions, rather, I was trying to look at an expanded theme of good and right as suggested by the original post. If the original post was just a pole, "Have you ever taken a beggar to lunch?" it wouldn't be much of a conversation at all.
    • Comment deleted

      • Jan 7 2013: "I know what went through your mind and body in that instant when you wrote it, "

        No, you don't

        "because that IS how it works."

        What is 'it?'

        "That's how we all work."

        We or you? Who says? Mark says?

        "I know this because nothing is hidden,"

        Doesn't the Bible say something like this?

        "you can watch it happen in yourself"

        Watch what happen? And whatever it is I'll see it in myself?

        "if you'd care to be honest"

        What is honesty. BTW, I do care and I try to be honest.

        "with yourself and make the effort (which isn't much effort at all, in fact it's much more effort to remain in denial)."

        "I'm in denial? I deny that."

        And whatever we

        "Again, you or we. Who are you talking about here?"

        "rationalize about it has nothing to do with it whatsoever."

        Again, what is 'it'?

        "Whatever we rationalize about anything,"

        Again, you or we? Please try to be clear with your pronouns. It will make your writing much easier to follow. And all these years I thought trying to think and live rationally was a good thing.

        "has nothing to do with anything whatsoever."

        Easy to spot an attack rather than a reasonable argument. Generally include words like, all, anything, everything, all the time, no exceptions....etc.

        "You're right, it's not about you or anyone in particular, but I'm trying to make a point."

        ...and that would be...

        " To get an idea what that is, you might look for my other comments on this page."

        Read your prior writings on this page. Non-plused.

        " But the long and short of it is this: We're all full of it."

        Ahh, clarity at last, you are full of it, and with that admission, you discredit your own accusation that 'we' are all full of it.

        "I'm no exception. And neither are you. "

        Mark has spoken, and that settles it.
  • Jan 6 2013: "Which is more important, to do right or to do good?"

    People who answer "do right" believe that, IN GENERAL, in the long run doing right at this instant does more good than doing good in this instant. Everyone is trying to maximize long term good doing, people just differ in opinion about how to achieve that goal, this is why people's actual behavior differs from situation to situation (not every situation fits the "in general" moniker).
    • Comment deleted

      • Jan 7 2013: True, people make up excuses for themselves, but if they had the time and the luxury of thinking about their actions they would try to maximize long term good doing (according to what their personal definition of good is).
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        Jan 7 2013: I know I've popped into the grocery store more than a few times for a sandwich to hand to someone standing outside. I also pick up things if I see people drop them and I hand them back. It's what made replying to the query simple to me.

        What I do does not depend on what someone else dropped. To me the two things are disconnected.
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        Jan 7 2013: I understand, Mark, that there is often a discrepancy between what people say they would do in a situation, what they think they would actually do if they are honest with themselves, and what they actually would do if the situation arose. Predictions are most valid in situations that have often been put to the test in their lives.

        I also understand that some people are more armchair and some more action and that that balance can change over the course of a person's lifetime for a variety of reasons.

        I have not come to a settled conclusion as to whether we are each more or less consistent in our actual behaviors than we think we are.
  • Jan 6 2013: I must give back the money to the owner and give a meal to the beggar.
    I do not like to give money to "beggars". If you are really committed to help then you need to know how. There are different ways sometimes will be cloth, shoes, food or just a conversation with an autentic interest in the person.

    My personal view is :
    Do it Right is a meaningful way of living.
    Do it Good is a convenient approach to go with the flow.
  • Jan 6 2013: Well, is it right to let a poor beggar go hungry while a rich man walks down the street happy and full?

    Personally, I believe that what is right and what is good are very subjective but also similar to each other. However, I try to do what is right. Many people that we consider tyrants (Hitler, Stalin, Etc.) have tried to do good while ignoring what is right. And we have seen the devastating effects that this attitude caused. There is a lot of wrong in the world, and we will never solve all of the problems that plague us and others. But we can do what is right and hope that others will do the same. And if everyone does what they think is right, then I believe that consequently, good things will happen.
  • Jan 6 2013: You can act good twice:
    - return the money to the legitimate owner
    - give your own money to the poor guy

    And that it's also the right way in which being truthful in respect to your feelings.. ..can it be called generosity when what you give away does not belong to you and there's no self sacrifice?

    Lead by example, if you don't act under the light of the sun, no one else will do it.
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    Jan 6 2013: " I myself have a hard time separating "right" from "good""

    maybe because they are one?
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    Jan 6 2013: Thanks Linda.
  • Jan 5 2013: To do good because when you do, you re always right. The opposite is not necessarily true!
  • Jan 5 2013: Why not forget the $20 and listen to the man. Why is he homeless? Why is he starving? Giving him $20 is not likely to solve anything. The naivety of youth believes that the most immediate solution does actual good. Recall KONY2012, to which I shall never have enough laughs over.

    And I'm amused Kansas has a town called Manhattan.
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      Jan 5 2013: You cant save everyone
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      Jan 6 2013: I already knew what I would do in this situation before I posted the question. I posted it merely to read the comments. I find the different reactions amusing (such as yours).

      Manhattan is a very nice clean college town.
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      Jan 6 2013: Don't give me a fish, teach me how to fish.
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    Jan 5 2013: As Robert Winner said, we can't do good at the expense of right, and vice versa.
    What I would do in this case is to give back money to the rich guy, knowing he's rich doesn't give any right to give his money -which I know that they're his in this case- to someone else.

    So the right thing to do is to give him back the money;
    The good thing to do is giving the beggar from my own opinion, if I don't have money it would be also Good to ask the rich man if I can give the money he dropped to that poor guy.
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      Jan 5 2013: Why not give your own twenty to the homeless guy?
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        Jan 6 2013: I said "The good thing to do is giving the beggar from my own opinion". It seems like I wrote 'opinion' instead of 'money'.
  • Jan 5 2013: Do the right thing, return the money to the rich man and point out the beggar, so, then the rich man can decide to do right or do good.
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    Jan 5 2013: I'm going to express my utilitarian view in saying that giving the beggar the money is the right thing to do.
    I'm also going to express my current financial view in saying that my wallet could do with a $20 injection.
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    Jan 5 2013: Tough question. What makes a person "look really hungry"? Are they really skinny? Are they panting? I see many beggars on the street, but they all look pretty well-fed. I can even think of one guy who's pretty fat.
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    Gail .

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    Jan 5 2013: Your worldview is very different from mine. Your question holds so many unspecified assumptions that it is unanswerable in 2,000 characters or less.
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      Jan 5 2013: What are the assumptions you think the question holds, TED Lover? It seems like a pretty straightforward question.
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        Gail .

        • +1
        Jan 5 2013: I think that the question holds an unspoken assumption of a god concept and an ultimate moral code where good and evil (or bad) exist as concrete concepts. It assumes that we come into the world by means other than our own will, and are then subject to this the rules of the moral code. It even suggests a possible punishment for those who do not adhere to it.

        My worldview holds none of these assumptions. In my worldview, there is no moral code where one has a "moral" responsibility to save another from his own self-created consequences. My personal code of ethics may call on me to teach the pauper how to escape the poverty, but it does not call on me to force knowledge on someone who doesn't want to learn, because that too would be depriving another of self-chosen consequences.
  • Jan 5 2013: Sometimes doing the right thing can cause mean doing the opposite. In this case, giving it to the beggar would be best as the rich man won't even acknowledge the hungry beggar
  • Jan 5 2013: How many times, or how many events have happened in your life, or in the life of someone you know,
    where, at the time of the occurrence, you truly felt, believed or thought, it was the worst thing that could have happened?
    Meaning, it was not good or in your opinion, not right?
    Only later to learn, believe and experience that it was the best thing that could have happened to and for you?
    We really don't know how our actions affect others in many cases.
    I always say, if you don't know what the right thing is to do, then do a loving thing.
    Love seems to be the one thing we hide and withhold for all the wrong reasons.
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    E G

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    Jan 5 2013: How is it a good thing to give the others money to the beggar ? The act of giving money is a good thing but if you don't give your money the whole is not such a good thing .

    More important in this case is to do the right thing .
  • Jan 5 2013: why would they alwaysw be exclusive.
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    Jan 5 2013: At time it's really difficult to decide whether to go for RIGHT thing or GOOD thing though both are relative....

    However with your example...it's not that difficult....I am with Fritzie's answer given post below.