As I argue in my defense of price gouging, a “need” to be rescued can at times arise in emergency situations. There can be a corresponding moral (not legal) duty to rescue. This duty is imperfect and applies to no one in particular. Rather, if various conditions are met, such as you are in close physical proximity to the person in danger, you have no more important rescues to undertake (the problem of triage), you are capable of succeeding at your task, you can undertake the rescue without taking excessive risks or bearing excessive costs, and so on, you may become obligated to help out. This duty is obviously not present when a person is dying of old age where genuine rescue is impossible. Even with the right circumstances, individual judgments can differ. And even when we apply this duty to “community” as a whole, saying that people should strive to save each other from dangers to life, things are pretty undetermined.

Bottom line: if there is a guy next to you, and you notice an anvil falling down on him, you should seriously consider pushing him out of the way. That’s basically the extent of it.

Take-and-pay cases fall under need, as well.

My main point in this refinement of this concept, however, is that rescuing a person is not a form of “welfare.” Once delivered from imminent danger to his life, the person is left alone to go on living and provide for himself with no further assistance.

The parable of the Good Samaritan illustrates a rescue by an individual, not permanent monthly food stamps allotment by the “welfare state.”

Even if a person is seriously disabled and has no one who loves him to care for him, a charitable organization is by the nature of its mission not obligated to do more than sustain his physical life. It is not required to feed him pomegranate juice.

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