Tuesday, January 18, 2005

If a tree falls in the forest and no-one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?

Did you hear about the earthquake that struck on Boxing Day? I mean, Boxing Day, 2003? A 6.5 richter scale earthquake struck Iran, killing up to 30,000?


James said...

Was that the one that demolished Bam?

Crypticity said...

Yep, I had never heard about it. But then I was in deepest darkest China (Yunnan province I believe) at the time.

Talking about China, if people think the devastation from the tsunami was big, the Tangshan Earthquake (near Tianjin, China, which I visited last time I went) killed about 250,000 completely from the earthquake.

Like many disasters in the old Communist China, there was definitely no sound when the tree 'fell'.

James said...

If a country which has just faced a natural disaster is offered aid by another country, would it be unethical to refuse that aid?

I think India has refused some aid in relation to the tsunami and I remember Russia refusing help when its submarine sank.

Crypticity said...

I don't think there is an ethical responsibility to accept aid. Why should there be?

Unless you believe that the Government has an ethical responsibility to assist its own people as much as is conceiveably possible.

I think it is easy to see how some aid may not necessarily be completely altruistic. If it isn't and there are some intentions behind it, then it may be better not to accept.

James said...

I think that something you alluded to earlier has some relevance here. Any government which has been democratically elected should act according to the mandate that it has been given. So, it should act according to an appropriate interpretation of the will of the population.

(There is an issue about whether a government should take a long-term view and not always agree with what the populists think, but I won't go into that here).

If the aid came tied to other conditions (e.g.: voting a certain way in an international organisation, trade agreements) then it is sensible for the government to weigh up the options.

If the aid is condition free, then it seems more logical to accept it. If a country doesn't accept aid just because it doesn't like the other country which is offering it, then that sounds silly to me.