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< Back to question Should you give money to beggars? Show more Show less

For people fortunate enough to have extra money in their pockets, giving it away can be fraught with stress. The decision to give or not to give money to homeless people has real-world consequences. This question is not concerned with the legality of giving money, but rather with the moral and ethical dilemma that goes along with it.

Yes, you should always give to those who have less. Show more Show less

If you were homeless, you'd want someone to help you out with money.
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It shows solidarity

Giving money shows that you care. Lifting someone's spirits may be more valuable than the money itself.
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Proponents


Context

Few people choose to be homeless or choose to beg for a living. Oftentimes, people are homeless because of situations out of their control—joblessness or fleeing an abusive situation. Yet, homeless people are often treated as though their homelessness is their moral failure. As a result, people who are homeless may feel dehumanized, unseen, and ignored.

The Argument

All humans deserve to be treated respectfully. If you believe in the common dignity of all humans, then if you are financially able, you should give cash directly to the homeless. Your contribution may not be able to do much, but in that moment, your kindness could be enough to lift a person’s spirits. Giving anything—whether cash, socks, or a hot meal—to the homeless shows you care about their humanity. No one deserves to be dehumanized. Everyone deserves to have their spirit lifted. Donating money to a homeless person does more than just pay for their next meal; it shows them that there are people who truly care. For someone who escaped an abusive household or has a strained relationship with their family, this small gesture of kindness and could mean the world. A Toronto study found that 66% of homeless people were currently, or had at one point, experienced depression; forming meaningful bonds with passerby could help temporarily alleviate depressive symptoms[1]. While charities are also helpful, the donations to the homeless are indirect, and this lack of connection misses the impact of genuine human interaction. Sometimes, giving to the homeless with the presumption that the giver knows the homeless person’s needs is just as dehumanizing as ignoring a homeless person. Givers can acknowledge homeless people’s humanity by being intentional and asking what they need specifically.[2] [3] It is important to give these resources directly to beggars so that they can experience the kindness of humans.

Counter arguments

If you give cash and enable a homeless person to pursue self-destructive means, you have shown that you do not respect their life outcomes. If you care for their health and do not want to enable them to pursue self-destructive means, you can better show solidarity by respecting their life and offering something other than cash. In addition, giving cash to a homeless person who intentionally scams people further enables that homeless person to disrespect other well-meaning people. Though you want to show solidarity with a homeless person, you do not know if your donation is used to show solidarity or respect other human beings.

Premises

[P1] All humans deserve respect. [P2] As a fellow human, you would want someone to treat you with dignity. [P3] Giving to a homeless person shows you respect them and what they are going through.

Rejecting the premises

[Rejecting P3] You can still respect a homeless person and not give anything to them specifically.

References

  1. https://www.homelesshub.ca/about-homelessness/mental-health/depression-and-suicide
  2. https://www.chicagotribune.com/news/ct-cb-help-homeless-money-street-20190524-story.html
  3. https://www.invisiblepeople.tv/giving-money-homeless-people-okay/

This page was last edited on Sunday, 28 Jun 2020 at 03:04 UTC

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