Markkula Center of Applied Ethics

Letters From Our Readers

Just indignation

You know what? I think Melvin Lerner created the "Just World Theory" as an easy research exercise. Do you really think there is "a widespread tendency to believe that victims of misfortune deserve what happens to them"? If there are people who believe victims of bad luck deserve it, they are a rare species. What an un-human feeling!

Richard M. Harnett
South San Francisco, CA

Rights this way

Your article defines right as a "justified claim on others." [But] rights that place claims on others, such as the right to medical care, are not truly rights. Claims have to be justified, and who does the justification? If that is left to claimants, everyone would be claiming and no one would be producing the services to satisfy those claims. This is why socialistic systems have failed so miserably. "Rights" that place a claim on others should not be called rights. A better term would be charity.

Andrejs Baidins
Wilmington, DE

Parental guidance recommended

On the piece titled "Children's Rights," I was fascinated by the implications, even assumptions, that all adults, by virtue of being adult/older, make sensible, informed choices that irrevocably incline to the good. This is untenable, unrealistic, and unprovable. Many children make excellent choices because they arc very literal, realistic, and closer to their needs and feelings. In spite of the number of dysfunctional adults and families, most children have not yet been coopted by a culture that values deference to power and money and the facade of status. May I suggest that in today's world, the parents' role is to help their children become fully informed of pros and cons and consequences of any decision.

Claire L. Bateman
Washington, DC

Issues in Ethics will publish letters on issues raised in these pages. Letters may be edited for clarity or length.

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