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The Moral Obligations You Have In Old Age


We still have obligations. Perhaps our generation even more so than usual, given the mess we made over the last 30 years – the first generation to leave the next worse off in centuries!

The Radical Age Movement

Dec. 9, 2016

by Michael Friedman, L.M.S.W.
Adjunct Associate Professor, Columbia University School of Social Work

Recently I took a philosophy mini-course called “Conscientious Citizenship,” which explored our moral obligations largely through the heroic image of Socrates, who accepted a death sentence as a matter of principle and loyalty to his nation.

Although several of us questioned Socrates’ presumed heroism, the course got me thinking about what the obligations of citizenship are; and, because I am an older, retired person (73 as I write this), it got me wondering what the obligations of older, retired people are and whether they are different from the obligations of younger people.

A strange question perhaps. It is commonplace to think about what society ought to do for old people. But this is the converse question, Kennedyesque in a way. Not what does a society owe to old people, but what do old people owe…

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