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This may topic may belong in Ethics and Morals but it more often ends up as a political discussion. I am thinking it is a meta-political concept.

I recently read David Soan Wilson's book "Darwin's Cathedral". In the book, Wilson repeatedly makes reference to the perennial societal problem of free loaders. By this, I mean those individuals in a group who benefit from the resources and services of the group but who do not reciprocate in providing shared resources or services to the benefit and survival of the group.

Wilson proposes that groups develop rules and norms to limit the exploits of free loaders. Further, in order to keep powerful, influential, and exploitive families and individuals in check, the rules are often set into a supernaturalistic context (i.e. religion) so that a transcendent fear of supernatural retribution will tend to enforce compliance to the group's rules.

Is free loading a problem in our "modern", scientifically-informed society? How do you distinguish between free loading and free spirit? How do we distinguish between free loading and exploitation by one group (class) at the expense of other groups (classes) (e.g. Republicans, Labour, Democrats, Conservatives, Socialists, etc.). Should a society have mechanisms to limit the exploitation of free loaders? Does the "separation of powers" idea of the US constitution count as a check on free loading or only a check on exploitation between groups?

Tags: captialism, responsibility, socialism, society, welfare

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