mpp

Stealing moral if starving?

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It can be argued that stealing is wrong, i.e. not in my self-interest, because I'll suffer consequences in form of guilt, not enjoying the stolen goods, etc.

However, what if I am literally starving? How can you argue then that stealing is wrong according to the moral standard of self interest? If I'm starving, stealing is in my self-interest and wouldn't it then have to be morally right?

 

Thank you. 

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In any conflict of moral principles you go with the more important one. Then at this point maybe there is a discussion about which is the more important one.

At least this is how principles of strategy work in chess. I don't see why moral principles should be different.

 

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3 hours ago, merjet said:

mpp, see here where Ayn Rand answers Gerald Goodman.

thanks for the link. this makes sense, if one is truly on the brink of death starving, even regardless of the reasons why one got there, say by one's own fault, i'd still consider it an emergency if one's only choice is to steal or die. in a situation like this, it seems natural that all morality would fly out the window and one's only choice could be to survive and not to be moral. (unless the survival would carry cost so high it would make the gained life unliveable.)

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14 minutes ago, mpp said:

thanks for the link. this makes sense, if one is truly on the brink of death starving, even regardless of the reasons why one got there, say by one's own fault, i'd still consider it an emergency if one's only choice is to steal or die. in a situation like this, it seems natural that all morality would fly out the window and one's only choice could be to survive and not to be moral. (unless the survival would carry cost so high it would make the gained life unliveable.)

Is survival not a moral principle?

Do we abandon a code of morality in problematic circumstances when we most need it?

 

 

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9 hours ago, mpp said:

It can be argued that stealing is wrong, i.e. not in my self-interest, because I'll suffer consequences in form of guilt, not enjoying the stolen goods, etc.

However, what if I am literally starving? How can you argue then that stealing is wrong according to the moral standard of self interest? If I'm starving, stealing is in my self-interest and wouldn't it then have to be morally right?

 

Thank you. 

MPP,

There's a practical consideration that almost nobody talks about in this question.

When people imagine this situation, their context is generally framed for a society that is fair, one where a starving person normally has access to work and food.

But all throughout history, elites have seen the consequences of feasting on lush banquets right next to starving peasants they block from providing for themselves. That can work for awhile, but it has generally not worked out well for such elites. And soon they are eating torches and pitchforks. :) 

So in addition to a moral question, there is a question of common sense and correct social context. 

Within a decent society, if you are literally starving in an emergency, of course you grab some food where you can get it. Since when does blind adherence to a principle trump life, especially in an emergency? 

I say the true moral question comes after, not before. If you are a person who thinks morality is important, you will make reparations when you are able to. The person you took food from may like it or dislike it, but at least you will be alive and he or she will be compensated.

If you are an immoral slob, you will not even worry yourself about it. And in a decent society, even in a decent society, there will be consequences if you are caught doing that too often.

Michael

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Establish the correct morality then deal with exceptions, real or apparent.

--Brant

and there will be exceptions to the exceptions

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Stealing food to avoid starvation is not moral,  but it will happen.  The urge to protect one's life exceeds the respect for property under the right circumstances.  The act can be understood and might even be forgiven if the thief makes good  on  his  act later on,  the the theft of the food did not put its rightful owner in mortal peril. 

One starving person stealing from another starving person is not exactly  forgivable.   

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24 minutes ago, BaalChatzaf said:

One starving person stealing from another starving person is not exactly  forgivable.

Bob,

This happened a lot in the concentration camps of WWII.

The father of a friend of mine survived 4 years hiding in Auschwitz--long story, essentially when his turn came to be at a certain spot that he perceived would be his last, he took his chances underneath the structures and quietly disappeared. He lived off of raw potato peels and what he could steal. Four years is a long time like that and he was not a nice man after the war.

There is nothing to forgive in that case. There was no morality involved. Morality means nothing in that circumstance.

Michael

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54 minutes ago, BaalChatzaf said:

Stealing food to avoid starvation is not moral,  but it will happen.  The urge to protect one's life exceeds the respect for property under the right circumstances.  The act can be understood and might even be forgiven if the thief makes good  on  his  act later on,  the the theft of the food did not put its rightful owner in mortal peril. 

One starving person stealing from another starving person is not exactly  forgivable.   

You do what you do and get on with your life.

If you are judged judge the judgers.

If you judge yourself--and you will--you are the judger in chief.

The biggest limitation in a human lifespan is one's conscience.

--Brant

shit happens--all over the place

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Not at all aimed at the opener, but this is the kind of question most often enjoyed by those looking for conflict of interests between individuals. "His property" - vs - "my need".

The principle: One does not sacrifice oneself and one's values to others nor equally accept others' sacrifice to oneself.

Along can conceivably come a most abnormal, rare circumstance in which you, as rational person, would have to steal from someone - one time - in order to live another day or two. Morally - if you are moral - take what you need. Then willingly make recompense as soon as possible (which might include some penalty under the Law, also accepted willingly). It's so abberrant, it should only happen in a backward civilisation lacking personal opportunities, full freedom of action and - therefore - capitalism, but it is a view of life common to the altruist mindset, which likes to promote all life as one big 'emergency' in which most men and women are permanently so weak they have no other option but to be dependents on others' minds and property - a dependency which conveniently cedes power and control to some (also) altruist-types.

How one treats "others" (at large) is in fact, easy and self-evident.  I believe the majority of people don't really need a formal moral code to grasp that an other's mind, person, or property are high values to that individual, not to be tampered with, and that every other person deserves simple acknowledgment and a basic respect. They "know" implicitly, anyway. It doesn't even presuppose having a knowledge of rights and property rights. One only needs to see and to think independently -- and that capability has been, unfortunately, subverted and replaced by traditional, religious and philosophical Commandments and Rules. An adult who HAS to be told how to be 'good' to other people is an unconscious, unself-aware, unfeeling dolt, some of whom are also egotistical predators. Obversely, a rational, selfish guide is the singular essential for a person's decisions and actions through life's complexities and a true morality.

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6 hours ago, Brant Gaede said:

You do what you do and get on with your life.

If you are judged judge the judgers.

If you judge yourself--and you will--you are the judger in chief.

The biggest limitation in a human lifespan is one's conscience.

--Brant

shit happens--all over the place

Yup.

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It seems most people here approve of stealing if necessary to avoid starving to death. Even Ayn Rand approved.

Then let's modify the question a little. Instead of the extreme of starving to death, a more common and less extreme scenario, would you be justified in stealing to pay the rent in order to not be evicted and homeless?

 

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2 hours ago, jts said:

It seems most people here approve of stealing if necessary to avoid starving to death. Even Ayn Rand approved.

Then let's modify the question a little. Instead of the extreme of starving to death, a more common and less extreme scenario, would you be justified in stealing to pay the rent in order to not be evicted and homeless?

 

The choice made and action taken must be proportionate to one's scale of values. No, it would be a self-sacrifice.

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On 12/2/2016 at 0:49 PM, mpp said:

It can be argued that stealing is wrong, i.e. not in my self-interest, because I'll suffer consequences in form of guilt, not enjoying the stolen goods, etc.

However, what if I am literally starving? How can you argue then that stealing is wrong according to the moral standard of self interest? If I'm starving, stealing is in my self-interest and wouldn't it then have to be morally right?

 

Thank you. 

MPP,

I'd try to find an altruist instead of stealing.  :)

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44 minutes ago, RobinReborn said:

It's not an easy question to answer.  The practical advice to be gained from this question is 'prevent yourself from being in a situation where you're starving!'.

Incontrovertibly. And so to : "...man must be the beneficiary of his own moral actions".

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On 12/3/2016 at 0:04 PM, KorbenDallas said:

I'd try to find an altruist instead of stealing.  :)

 

6 hours ago, RobinReborn said:

It's not an easy question to answer.  The practical advice to be gained from this question is 'prevent yourself from being in a situation where you're starving!'.

Where do you find an altruist in a Nazi concentration camp?

And how do you prevent yourself from being taken prisoner if you don't even know the danger at the time you are arrested?

With permission from Godwin...

:)

Michael

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Plenty of jewish people got out of Germany before the holocaust started...  So I'd be careful, there are probably some Muslims in the US that are preparing to leave because they're afraid of Trump.

 

Of course, you can be too paranoid.

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4 hours ago, RobinReborn said:

Plenty of jewish people got out of Germany before the holocaust started...  So I'd be careful, there are probably some Muslims in the US that are preparing to leave because they're afraid of Trump.

RR,

Yeah, I'll be careful. Who's worried anyway about the 6 million Jews who the German Nazis killed when there's a principle to worry about? People are discardable and replaceable, principles are not.

:)

Do you think there are 6 million Muslims wanting to leave the US because they are afraid of being rounded up in concentration camps, then exterminated?

Oh.. wait... there are only 3.3 Muslims here...

:)

Michael

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I'm not a holocaust denier but saying 6 million jews were rounded up and exterminated strikes me as an exaggeration of history. 

 

 “Eichmann … told me that, according to his information, some 6,000,000 Jews had perished until then -- 4,000,000 in extermination camps and the remaining 2,000,000 through shooting by the Operations Units and other causes, such as disease, etc.”
On its website, Yad Vashem, Israel’s principal Holocaust research center, quotes the Eichmann reference, and then says that both early and more recent estimates by a variety of different scholars have fallen between five and six million.
read more: http://www.haaretz.com/jewish/features/.premium-1.540880

 

http://www.haaretz.com/jewish/features/.premium-1.540880

 

And there were only half a million jews in Germany (and many half and quarter jews cooperated with the Nazi Party), so it's not exactly a fair comparison.

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19 minutes ago, RobinReborn said:

I'm not a holocaust denier but saying 6 million jews were rounded up and exterminated strikes me as an exaggeration of history. 

 

 

 

The number 6 million was based on -Nazi- records of the killings.  The Nazis noted name,  gender and age for as many victims as they could.  Germans  are compulsive  record keepers.  The term Deutsche  Ordnung  is applicable here.   The Germans love to dot the "i"  cross the "t"  and keep lots of detailed records. 

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1 hour ago, RobinReborn said:

I'm not a holocaust denier but

But.  

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I've starved in various places: the streets, mental institutions, jail; one could possibly say I've starved around.

There's two things on this i'd like to say: 1) doors eventually opened to get food

2) in the case you're being forced to starve, you cannot choose to try to trap another human into being guilty so you can "rightfully" take their food; to do so would be to violate Galt's oath. 

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1 hour ago, atlashead said:

doors eventually opened to get food

atlashead,

That was your experience (and I've had my own), but if you are using that as a standard for the question, it amounts to "somehow."

Taken to it's logical end, a person could starve to death if his situation is dire (in the wilderness and injured, etc.) and a door does not eventually get opened (somehow) to get food. How does the starving dude get a door, much less open it? Somehow. Even worse since you put it in the passive voice where the actor is not named, how does a door (any door) get opened since the starving dude doesn't know who to ask to open one? A door gets opened somehow.

So, if I understand your logic, you're solution in an emergency is to outwait hunger and wait for "somehow," but adhere to a principle at all costs? How long do you think hunger will let you wait before you die?

:)

This reminds me of an old joke religious people tell about a guy who said God would always take care of him if he had enough faith.

A flood came where he lived and, as the water was rising, a fire truck came by. The fireman yelled for him to get on and he answered, "Thank you very much, but God will take care of me." The fire truck left. As the water got to waist level, a rescue boat came around and tried to save him, but he stood firm. "Thank you very much, but God will take care of me." Then the water was up to his neck and a helicopter appeared overhead. They dropped a rope ladder in front of him and yelled for him to grab it. He yelled back, "Thank you very much, but God will take care of me."

He drowned.

On getting to the Pearly Gates, he saw Saint Peter and asked what happened. Wasn't his faith strong enough? Why did he drown? Saint Peter said, "Well, we sent you a fire truck, a boat, and a helicopter, but you wouldn't take either of them."

:) 

If you're in an emergency as in the question, that is starving in the wilderness, and come across a cabin, guess what just happened? A door appeared. All cabins have doors. All you have to do is change from the passive voice to active and you can eat. Instead of waiting for doors to eventually get opened so you can get food, you open the door yourself.

:) 

Michael

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