Impartiality, beneficence, and friendship
Lawrence Blum feels that there are restrictions on impartiality when related to specific social roles such as professions pertaining to law, education and medicine. We have a role leaning more towards that of beneficence to friends however unrelated to the obligations of the professional responsibility. For one not to feel impartial in the direction of a stranger?s well being is natural, for beneficence however does not mean that the interests of our friends do not come first.
Mr. Blum argues that the practice of impartiality is of moral requirement. Generally with friendships we are not put into a situation where the regard of our friends and others would be necessary morally. For example, helping a friend first would not be a violation of impartiality because by my serving a friend would be entirely of human nature.
Blum states that personal attachments could lead to a violation in the practice of impartiality leaving there no choice but to treat others unfairly. Case in point, one who is in a high position professionally could easily provide jobs for his or her friends or relatives whether or not they are as qualified for the job as one who applied. In some cases it is not wrong impartially to see how a friend is doing in the event that they are sick. There would be no benefit to a stranger if I asked him if he was feeling better simply because I would not be aware of his state in the first place.
There are different kinds of impartiality given by those with specific social roles and responsibilities. A doctor has a duty of administering proper treatment to all patients. As does a judge in a civil trial to listen to the evidence and make her decision based on the information provided in a rational and fair method.
I agree that there indeed is a difference between impartiality and beneficence. If I lived in an apartment building with my mother and three younger sisters it would be expected that I come to their aid in the event of a fire. If I knew that my family was safe and secure elsewhere during the fire, I would aid the stranger down the hall. I feel it would only be natural to provide first to family, friends or anyone you encounter on a day to day basis in any circumstance.
Blum notes that at times one would have no choice but to act towards a friend and not the stranger simply because of the risk of the deed. For instance, if saving two people from a burning car were too difficult, instinctively I would aid the closest one, perhaps my friend first. If I try saving both occupants, I am only putting myself at risk.
Mr. Blum often points out the demand of impartiality in the setting of institutional roles. Personally I feel I have an obligation whether friend or foe, to protect people when forced into harm. However, believing heavily in the fact that people often put themselves in situations where they need not be in the first place, whether friend or foe you yourself can get out of it. Of course it was an extreme case such as that of bodily harm or possible fatality I would act.
I feel that in some circumstances people will help strangers with the hope of being rewarded. Beneficence comes only to themselves in forms of media recognition or a cash reward. Let us say a financially struggling college student returned a wallet filled with five hundred dollars in cash and a platinum card. The student returned the wallet to find out that the rich are cheap people and sometimes ungrateful. Suspiciously questioning themselves? why, why, why? Now we pray that the student isn?t na?ve enough to think that a larger reward was going to be given for the amount found we shall give our young learner the benefit or the doubt. They returned it in good faith only to have the door slammed in their face. Impartiality sets in when that student, should they ever stumble upon a likely situation, feel not so keen on the idea of giving it back. However take into account the virtue. Should the student return the money morally doing the right thing with the chance of reward if not by cash than by conscious? Or should the indigent student take example one and benefit him or herself by purchasing school supplies? Not to say that if it belonged to a friend there would be no question of the return, but indeed it is a stranger. I think that the idea of impartiality goes beyond obligations to our friends, but also us. If a friend and I were on a deserted island with limited food and water, I doubt that we would be so willing to share. However, with a surplus of food and water we would be happy to share.
Of course it is natural to do for friends before any stranger. Strangers have friends and they would help them before me.
It?s important to remember that because you were a Samaritan and jump-started an old ladies car, you can probably be sure that she would just drive on by. Or given she just didn?t have cables. That however is no excuse to ignore the welfare and safety of the people that surround you. In a time and place when the world is at its worst, impartiality is something that is done more often than not. Obviously we have more interests in our loved ones than we have in strangers. It?s only natural. Nevertheless ignoring the call for help form strangers is inexcusable. If I were fully aware of the fact that helping my friend would do him less good than helping one of unfamiliarity, I am obligated to help somebody in need of more attention no matter how minor or major a case may be. Minor being car troubles and major being CPR.
Mr. Blum and I share a lot of the same points in terms of beneficence. Impartiality isn?t exactly a debate but his views behind it are questionable. I feel that impartiality is never really appreciated. If a decent young woman were stranded on the highway, it wouldn?t take long before a trucker pulled over to help her. Conversely, if a trucker blew all of his tires out, that young woman wouldn?t help. Why? Because she thinks that in a micro-sense that trucker only helped her because she was a pretty woman stranded. But in a macro-sense he took himself off schedule, went out of his way to stop an 18-ton tractor-trailer to have the lady feel uncomfortable because of the gender difference. Gender plays a big role in the practice of impartiality. I think that Mr. Blum is correct that friendships have a certain attachment to beneficence, but if you add gender it is a whole new topic of discussion.
First women and children! Impartiality plays a big role in protecting the lives of our women and our children. Friends are certainly high on ones list of priorities, but when a woman or child is hurt or killed it brings a sense of sadness that much greater to the heart.