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Why do people avoid personal responsibility?

CriticalThought

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This is just something of a philosophical question.

It seems to be at the core of the divide between left and right ideologies. Both sides value the concept, but how they perceive it seems different.

I'm trying to ascertain all the reasons why people may choose to avoid, deny, blame others, minimize, justify, etc. rather than take personal responsibility for their beliefs, feelings, thoughts, perceptions, judgments, and actions.
 

Orion

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Avoid implies a conscious choice. Ignorance is a bigger factor than all the others you mentioned and it's not just in politics, it's life in general.

A better question would be why do so few people look inward?
 

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Human beings are organisms; and like any other organism we are going to do what will profit us the most. Aside from feelings of pride, what possible gain or profit ever came from taking "personal responsibility?" If your life is falling aprt, isn't it easier to blame "society" or a political party or religion or lack of religion? I consider myself to be a realist and I am willing to admit when I'm wrong or made a mistake, typically, but I don't really gain anything except trust and a little respect. To the people who completely avoid personal responsibility, trust and or respect are alien concepts.
 

tacomancer

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This is just something of a philosophical question.

It seems to be at the core of the divide between left and right ideologies. Both sides value the concept, but how they perceive it seems different.

I'm trying to ascertain all the reasons why people may choose to avoid, deny, blame others, minimize, justify, etc. rather than take personal responsibility for their beliefs, feelings, thoughts, perceptions, judgments, and actions.
One of the things that I look at when making political choices is what is someone's fault vs what is random chance/society/luck/etc. A person is absolutely responsible for what they can control and should not be held responsible for what they cannot. The desire to blame people for things in life that they have no control over is a logical mistake that I often see conservatives and libertarians commit.
 

CriticalThought

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Ignorance is a bigger factor than all the others you mentioned and it's not just in politics, it's life in general.
Ignorance seems to be a common assumption. But why ignorance?

A better question would be why do so few people look inward?
Because it takes effort.
 

CriticalThought

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Human beings are organisms; and like any other organism we are going to do what will profit us the most. Aside from feelings of pride, what possible gain or profit ever came from taking "personal responsibility?" If your life is falling aprt, isn't it easier to blame "society" or a political party or religion or lack of religion? I consider myself to be a realist and I am willing to admit when I'm wrong or made a mistake, typically, but I don't really gain anything except trust and a little respect. To the people who completely avoid personal responsibility, trust and or respect are alien concepts.
What about personal empowerment and self confidence? Aren't those rewards of personal responsiblity?
 

CriticalThought

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One of the things that I look at when making political choices is what is someone's fault vs what is random chance/society/luck/etc. A person is absolutely responsible for what they can control and should not be held responsible for what they cannot. The desire to blame people for things in life that they have no control over is a logical mistake that I often see conservatives and libertarians commit.
What kinds of things does a person have no control over?
 

Orion

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Ignorance seems to be a common assumption. But why ignorance?
It is the lowest common denominator.

Because it takes effort.
You have your answer then.

It's easier to look to the outside world than to look inward. If your life is crap, it's easier to blame others, go shopping, or try and re-arrange external factors in order to make yourself feel better. The reality is that happiness lies inward, not outward.
 

tacomancer

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What kinds of things does a person have no control over?
Some off the top of my head:
Circumstances of their birth would be a major one
Many accidents and illnesses
In many cases, their opportunities in life,
Sheer bad luck

People should be responsible for making the best of the hand that they are dealt, but in cases where the number of plays are limited and you are always going to lose, external help should be provided.
 
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CriticalThought

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It is the lowest common denominator.
Ignorance is a lack of knowledge or education. I would like to know specifically what a person who avoids personal responsiblity is lacking in education and knowledge. And if they are missing it, then are they personally responsible for not being personally responsible?

You have your answer then.

It's easier to look to the outside world than to look inward. If your life is crap, it's easier to blame others, go shopping, or try and re-arrange external factors in order to make yourself feel better. The reality is that happiness lies inward, not outward.
That sounds like apathy. But why would people find it more fulfilling to do what is easier than to do what may have the most tangible benefit?
 

CriticalThought

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Circumstances of their birth would be a major one
Many accidents and illnesses
In many cases, their opportunities in life,
Sheer bad luck
I see, in other words, random chance.

People should be responsible for making the best of the hand that they are dealt, but in cases where the number of plays are limited and you are always going to lose, external help should be provided.
An interesting way of looking at it.
 

Orion

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Ignorance is a lack of knowledge or education. I would like to know specifically what a person who avoids personal responsiblity is lacking in education and knowledge. And if they are missing it, then are they personally responsible for not being personally responsible?
There are many things they might not be taught, I'm not going to summarize them all here. As to the latter question, that is kind of silly. If they are ignorant, then they are probably ignorant of the fact that they're ignorant, which means they aren't empowered to take action to change their lives.

That sounds like apathy. But why would people find it more fulfilling to do what is easier than to do what may have the most tangible benefit?
It's actually the opposite of apathy. Those who look inward find personal growth and understanding with themselves, which means they have greater power to help others and affect positive changes in their communities. Who is the bigger asset to the world around them, someone who is on auto-pilot all the time, or someone who has deeply questioned the typical actions they take in their lives and have made changes? The latter is much more conscious in general, and so they can have a bigger affect on the politics of their country.

It is the ignorant person who is apathetic because ignorance means they also lack awareness, which means they are not as conscious of their own condition.

Education is the key to solving the problem. A society that is well educated is less apathetic. People are less focused on mere survival and are more engaged in seeking the means to self-improvement, which in turn improves their surrounding community. If you want people to take more personal responsibility, then give them more education, otherwise they will always be dependent on you to give them answers. It's like that saying about fishing.
 

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I see, in other words, random chance.
Yeah, if its not stuff a person control, it is often categorized that way.

An interesting way of looking at it.
The thing is, I also don't think we should go too far with it as that would ignore how economies work. For example, I am all about food stamps and other welfare, but I am not in favor of going in debt to do so as a balance between societal growth and compassion needs to be struck for the sake of the future and growth. It sucks that we cannot help everyone, but we should do what we can afford to do.
 

CriticalThought

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Education is the key to solving the problem. A society that is well educated is less apathetic. People are less focused on mere survival and are more engaged in seeking the means to self-improvement, which in turn improves their surrounding community. If you want people to take more personal responsibility, then give them more education, otherwise they will always be dependent on you to give them answers. It's like that saying about fishing.
I'm not so sure that educated people are more personally responsible than uneducated people. Self awareness, on the other hand, does seem to play a large role in personal responsiblity, from what I have seen.
 

Orion

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I'm not so sure that educated people are more personally responsible than uneducated people. Self awareness, on the other hand, does seem to play a large role in personal responsiblity, from what I have seen.
That's true. Educated people can still pass the buck. On the other hand, there is a much higher chance that educated people will reach a greater level of self-awareness than those who don't have the same privilege. Educated people don't just have access to knowledge, they have access to societal privilege which means a broader range of experiences; not to mention they have a higher salary which in turn gives them more opportunity to engage in life activities that cause self-growth.
 

CriticalThought

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Yeah, if its not stuff a person control, it is often categorized that way.

The thing is, I also don't think we should go too far with it as that would ignore how economies work. For example, I am all about food stamps and other welfare, but I am not in favor of going in debt to do so as a balance between societal growth and compassion needs to be struck for the sake of the future and growth. It sucks that we cannot help everyone, but we should do what we can afford to do.
Personal responsiblity differs considerably from social responsiblity. The latter is based on beliefs on what is best for society. I can't say that society would benefit from allowing people to starve in the streets in order to avoid going into debt. However, that is based solely on my personal beliefs. Furthermore, that isn't the current reality.
 

CriticalThought

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That's true. Educated people can still pass the buck. On the other hand, there is a much higher chance that educated people will reach a greater level of self-awareness than those who don't have the same privilege. Educated people don't just have access to knowledge, they have access to societal privilege which means a broader range of experiences; not to mention they have a higher salary which in turn gives them more opportunity to engage in life activities that cause self-growth.
That is, of course, assuming they obtained their education legitimately. Many students today do the bare minimum to get by and their instructors are more than happy to let them do it. Doing so does not advance their self awareness nor guarantee that they are any more personally responsible. If anything some of the people who claim to be the most educated may actually be the least personally responsible as a result of how they obtained their education.
 

tacomancer

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Personal responsiblity differs considerably from social responsiblity. The latter is based on beliefs on what is best for society. I can't say that society would benefit from allowing people to starve in the streets in order to avoid going into debt. However, that is based solely on my personal beliefs. Furthermore, that isn't the current reality.
I think duty to society is an aspect of personal responsibility and I tend to have a hard time differentiating between the two when I really think about it. I tend to find a lot of examples that cover both areas and the ignoring of one is the ignoring of another. This is based on my morals of course, so others may see it differently.

Overall though, I am sure we can avoid starvation and stay out of debt pretty easily. Our country has enormous wealth and countries with a smaller per-capita income tend to be able to do it as well.
 

CriticalThought

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I think duty to society is an aspect of personal responsibility and I tend to have a hard time differentiating between the two when I really think about it. I tend to find a lot of examples that cover both areas and the ignoring of one is the ignoring of another. This is based on my morals of course, so others may see it differently.
It's an interesting question. Is duty separate from personal responsibility or an intricate part of personal responsibility? The question really is do people have an obligation to society and to society's betterment.

Maybe the same question could be extended to ourselves in terms of personal responsibility. What obligations do we have to ourselves?

Overall though, I am sure we can avoid starvation and stay out of debt pretty easily. Our country has enormous wealth and countries with a smaller per-capita income tend to be able to do it as well.
In that reality, it is mainly a budgetary issue. It may be more suitable to improve the overall economic condition so that there is more money to help those who need it, and to consider the largest expenditures, such as military and health care, before considering cuts to the most basic necessities. But that is my personal opinion.
 
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Orion

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That is, of course, assuming they obtained their education legitimately. Many students today do the bare minimum to get by and their instructors are more than happy to let them do it. Doing so does not advance their self awareness nor guarantee that they are any more personally responsible. If anything some of the people who claim to be the most educated may actually be the least personally responsible as a result of how they obtained their education.
That is an oddly specific thing to hone in on when we were being fairly general before. Although academic dishonesty exists, I don't think it really undermines what I said before, which is that education tends to bring personal empowerment.

The dishonesty thing does bring up an interesting point though, which is that our modern consumer world is very oriented toward selfishness and personal advancement, even at the cost of entire communities. Maybe people don't take personal responsibility because they are taught to not care if they are taking advantage of others.
 

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It's an interesting question. Is duty separate from personal responsibility or an intricate part of personal responsibility? The question really is do people have an obligation to society and to society's betterment.

Maybe the same question could be extended to ourselves in terms of personal responsibility. What obligations do we have to ourselves?
Personally, I think it is instinctual for people to want to better themselves and the people around them. We can deny that instinct, but we probably are not going to be very happy if we do.

In that reality, it is mainly a budgetary issue. It may be more suitable to improve the overall economic condition so that there is more money to help those who need it, and to consider the largest expenditures, such as military and health care, before considering cuts to the most basic necessities. But that is my personal opinion.
I agree. I guess the way I see it is we get to the point where we worry that we cannot afford to feed people, than we are in a major depression or there has been some major catestrophy or other huge problem anyway.
 

CriticalThought

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Maybe people don't take personal responsibility because they are taught to not care if they are taking advantage of others.
Is that something you can teach people?

I think most people have a, "It's none of my business" attitude.
 

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This is just something of a philosophical question.

It seems to be at the core of the divide between left and right ideologies. Both sides value the concept, but how they perceive it seems different.

I'm trying to ascertain all the reasons why people may choose to avoid, deny, blame others, minimize, justify, etc. rather than take personal responsibility for their beliefs, feelings, thoughts, perceptions, judgments, and actions.
Individuals who avoid personal responsibilty identify with the ego. The ego, as a product of evolution, is focused on survival and thus relies only on itself. This causes separation, as the ego labels individuals friend/foe. The ego is also quite narcissistic. It refuses to acknowledge it's flaws and sees itself as the sole arbiter of truth. Thus, it is quite natural for human beings to be selfish and greedy. When one puts others before one's ego, one puts the ego in it's place by taking control of the situation. One can also surrender the ego to God for safekeeping. :)
 

Orion

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Is that something you can teach people?

I think most people have a, "It's none of my business" attitude.
Well, there's that too. But these values are definitely taught, either directly, or by observing the culture at large.
 

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At the very base of human instinct is personal responsibility, self-reliance, whatever you want to call it. If you take away everything, and a person is left with nothing they have the choice of accepting their lot and engaging in activities and attitudes that require personal responsibility. The reason humans evolved into social creatures probably(IMO) stems from the desire to share responsibility amongst others. It is easier for people to engage in an activity or lifestyle they are more suited to if they are alleviated from the responsibility of taking care of other tasks. Its why turning into agricultural based societies was a huge step forward. Not everybody had to forage or hunt for food anymore and people could devote time to studies of mathematics, language, philosophy and thusly advancing their societies. And for others who are more suited for other tasks, they don't have to worry about developing the new theories and ideas, and can concentrate on being the producers in society. It's not to be confused with "shared burden" which implies a negative impact of shouldering more than you should, but rather a duty to the society in which you live and partake of its benefits. We don't want to becomes slaves to each other, but we have to realize the positive benefits of a society that shares responsibilities. And what keeps social responsibility from becoming social burden is taking the idea of personal responsibility to the highest level you can. Control things in your life as best you can and don't require unnecessary demands for society to "lift you up".

The problem is, our societies in the west have begun to celebrate and prop up the undesirable portion of this idea. The extreme end of avoiding personal responsibility, when people who aren't producers or of a net benefit to society seek to absolve all their responsibility to the society of which they are a part of and become a net drain on the resources available. And they don't necessarily have to be "the poor". Anybody at any level of society can be a net loss for the society because they believe society is responsible for them, rather than them being responsible for society.

Its not that society should uplift individuals, it should be that individuals uplift society.
 
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