[MCAT] Obligated to help?

Developed nations have an obligation to provide aid to the underdeveloped nations of the world.

Describe a specific situation in which a developed nation might not be obligated to provide aid to an underdeveloped nation. Discuss what you think determines when developed nations have an obligation to provide aid to underdeveloped nations.

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An obligation is what one is morally expected to fulfill, as in parents are obligated to nurture and educate their children. It is generally accepted that those who fail to fulfill their obligation deserve to be shunned upon. In other words, to have an “obligation” is to carry a moral responsibility. In terms of the disparity in the world, one may site the virtue of altruism and humanitarianism on a moral level, or the improvement of world stability in a practical sense, that the developed countries have an obligation to provide aid to the underdeveloped nations. One may go a step further and argue that the developed countries owe it to the underdeveloped countries, because they use up and claim ownership of most the world’s resources, often while exploiting people of the underdeveloped nations.

However, such moral responsibility of the developed nations may be influenced by other international factors, some of which may interfere with or dominate over the moral values cited above. For example, if an underdeveloped nation has a hostile policy towards a developed nation, and it puts the destruction of the developed nation on its agenda, then they may forfeit their right to expect foreign aid from this developed nation on the basis of moral obligation. Although the virtue of altruism may still hold true, it does not have an absolute power over other considerations. For example, honesty may be a virtue, one is certainly not obligated to be honest to a theft about where money is kept in the house. Likewise, the obligation of a developed nation to provide aid to relieve world crises and maintain international peace under the normal circumstances may be challenged by other factors such as national security, international politics, and war.

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