The Samaritan's dilemma is a dilemma in the act of charity. It hinges on the idea that when presented with charity, in some location such as a soup kitchen, a person will act in one of two ways: using the charity to improve their situation, or coming to rely on charity as a means of survival. The term Samaritan's dilemma was coined by economist James M. Buchanan.
The argument against charity frequently cites the Samaritan's dilemma as reason to forgo charitable contributions. It is also a common argument against communism and socialism, claiming that state aid is equivalent to charity, and that the beneficiaries of such aid will become slothful or otherwise negligent members of society.
The dilemma's name is a reference to the biblical Parable of the Good Samaritan.
- Buchanan, J. M. (1975): The Samaritan's dilemma. In: Altruism, morality and economic theory. In: E.S. Phelps (ed.), New York: Russel Sage foundation. Pp. 71-85.
-  Johan Lagerlöf, Incomplete Information in the Samaritan’s Dilemma: The Dilemma (Almost) Vanishes, Discussion Paper FS IV 99 - 12, Wissenschaftszentrum Berlin, 1999.[unreliable source?]
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