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Woman at the train station

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IntroductionEdit

Dionysius and Octavius are walking together. Dionysius tells a story about something that happened to him earlier in the week.

Dionysius and OctaviusEdit

Dionysius: The other day at the train station there was a woman with a $50 note, who was trying to get change so she could buy a $2.20 ticket from the machine. When I realised that she only wanted $2.20, I gave it to her, as I didn't have change for a $50. The transit officer commented, cheerfully, that chivalry isn't dead.

Octavius: That was nice of you to give her the money.

Dionysius: Nice? Why?

Octavius: Because you gave her something when you didn't have to. It was an act of selfless charity.

Dionysius: I don't agree. $2.20 is such a small ammount of money that its loss, for me, is insignificant. If someone stole $2.20 from me, it wouldn't bother me at all. There is an obligation to help people under such circumstances.

Octavius: You think we have an obligation to give people money?

Dionysius: If they need the money, and giving it to them doesn't harm you in any way, then yes, we have an obligation to give. It is wrong to not give money in such circumstances.

Octavius: What about beggars?

Dionysius: Beggars, I suppose, are a little different. The woman with the $50 note was obviously a person of means. She was near the ticket machine, and was obviously about to buy a ticket. A begger would probably spend it on drugs.

Octavius: Don't you think that is a little prejudiced? You're assuming that the well dressed white woman is trustworthy, whereas the dishevelled darkie isn't.

Dionysius: Perhaps. Do you think that the prejudice is unjustified?

Octavius: Of course - just because a person is badly dressed and begging for money doesn't mean they are less trustworthy than anyone else. If they say they need the money, you have no less reason to give it to them than the whitey with the $50 note.

Dionysius: There is a much greater chance that the money will be misused with the beggar than with the whitey. I don't want my money to be misused.

Octavius: You said before that you wouldn't care if $2.20 was stolen from you. If you give money to the begger, worst case is that they spend it on drugs, which is similar to stealing. But the best case is that it will be used for food or accomodation. Either way you aren't harmed. So don't you also have an obligation to give when a dischevelled beggar asks you for money?

Dionysius: I suppose. It depends on the perceived chance of the money being misused.

Octavius: The perceived chance of it being misused is irrelevant. You have said that $2.20 is practically worthless to you. You could quite happily throw it in the ocean. Why, then, are you so concerned about what happens to it when you give it to a beggar?

Dionysius: I don't know. I suppose I shouldn't be.

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