PHI 208 Week 1 Assignment

Are We Morally Obligated to Help Strangers in Need?

Barbara T. Montgomery

PHI 208: Ethics and Moral Reasoning

Professor David Smith

November 4, 2019

Part 1: Ethical Discussion

Do we have a moral obligation to help a stranger in need?

Part 2: Introduction

“When a stranger sojourns with you in your land, you shall not do him wrong. You shall treat the stranger who sojourns with you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself.” These are the words of Leviticus 19, which instructs us how we should treat the stranger.

With society as corrupt as it is, it’s difficult to meet a stranger with an open arm. It’s hard to distinguish those in need from those out to run a scam.

As Americans we believe in helping each other in the time of need. One of the most valuable things we can offer a society is our time, whether it be volunteering at a food bank, or lending a stranger a helping hand.

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We don’t all possess the same amount of money but we all do possess time and are able to give this time to others. Often, the time we spend with others outweighs anything of monetary value that we could have offered

Morals are codes of behavior based on personal values that guide a person’s sense of what is right and what is wrong. The question at hand is are we morally obligated to help strangers? The focus of this paper will be to present evidence on both sides of the argument.

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Part 3: Position Statement

Helping others adds value and meaning to our lives.

Part 4: Reasons in Support of Your Position

There is a Chinese saying that goes: “If you want happiness for an hour, take a nap. If you want happiness for a day, go fishing. If you want happiness for a year, inherit a fortune. If you want happiness for a lifetime, help somebody” (Times, 2017). For centuries, parents have drilled into their children’s head that it’s always better to give than to receive. Research solidifies this claim by providing evidence that giving is a powerful conduit to personal development and lifelong happiness.

Peter Singer, a moral philosopher from Australia, said; “If it is in our power to prevent something bad from happening, without thereby sacrificing anything of comparable moral importance, we ought, morally, to do it” (Famine, Affluence, and Morality, 2019).

The reason we function as a society is because we help each other. Ask yourself, “if I was stranded on a deserted island, would I want to be rescued?” The answer is a sure-fired “yes”. Although it might seem a bit hollow, moral beliefs states that when we do right by others we feel more complete. Having compassion for others is a quality that all humans should possess. Only when acting out of compassion for someone else do we understand what someone is going through. Having this understanding obligates us to help. Therefore, if there is a stranger sincerely in need of assistance, as human beings, if we are able to lend a hand, then we are morally obligated to do so. We are successful in life because someone lent a hand to us. When we extend ourselves to others, we stand to gain purpose, meaning and happiness all of the qualities we should look for in life.

Part 5: Opposing Position Statement

Helping strangers can sometimes have a negative impact on an individual.

Part 6: Reasons in Support of Opposing Position

Growing up in the little town of Kingstree, there were no strangers. It seemed that everyone in the neighborhood knew each other and helped each other. Circumstances have changed this for even the small towns. Today, children are taught not to talk to strangers. We’ve even gone as far teaching them to yell “stranger danger” at the first sign of something suspicious.

Although it may be a good deed to help others, there are negative aspects of helping strangers. With the rise of human trafficking, it’s not always safe to approach a stranger. We’ve heard in the news how a good Samaritan stopped to help someone having car trouble; only to end up missing or murdered. Another negative aspect of helping strangers is the liability that comes with it. There have been times that someone aid a person having a heart attack only to be sued by the individual for physical damage.

Helping others can also make a person feel depleted and taken advantage of. There are so many scams circulating that it’s difficult to recognize what’s real and what’s not. Many people, especially the elderly, have been taken advantage of by door to door salesmen selling fake life insurance policies. These people prey on the elderly because they are kind and don’t like hurting people’s feelings.

The twenty-forth chapter of Matthew, verse twelve, states that “and because sin shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold.” The world hasn’t changed, but the heart of the people has. The wicked heart of the people have allowed sin and self-guided needs to over shadow needs of others. People are reluctant to help others because of the negative aspects that surrounds doing a good deed.


Macintyre, J. (2017). Welcoming the stranger in or midst. Retrieved from

Boring-Bray, W. (2019). What can we learn from peter singers famine, affluence and morality. Retrieved from

Santi , J. (2017). The secret to happiness is helping others. Retrieved from

B. (2017). 3 reason why people refuse to help others. Retrieved from

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PHI 208 Week 1 Assignment. (2015, Dec 10). Retrieved from

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