Money and Ethics

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Cmlala17
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Money and Ethics

Post by Cmlala17 » March 20th, 2017, 3:32 pm

If you had the opportunity to steal $1,000,000 in cash from a wealthy person, and you knew you could get away with it (I know this is difficult to imagine, but just assume for a moment that you knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that no one would ever discover that you were the one who took the money, not even the IRS), would you take it? Let's also assume that the wealthy person would not be financially devastated as a result of losing the money you took. She would be upset and unable to do things she wanted to do with the money, but she would still be pretty wealthy after losing the money. Would you take the money? Why or why not? After all, maybe it isn't wrong to take the money. It depends on the reasons for or against.

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Re: Money and Ethics

Post by Fan of Science » May 29th, 2017, 10:53 pm

I would not take the money, because I certainly have no right to the money, and stealing is wrong. It would be wrong to steal a single dollar, wouldn't it? The consequences of stealing a single dollar from most people would be trivial, but that still does not make it right, so, even with your assumption that the wealthy person would not miss the million too much, this does not make the act of stealing morally justifiable.

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Re: Money and Ethics

Post by Spraticus » May 30th, 2017, 4:19 am

Property is theft?

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Re: Money and Ethics

Post by LuckyR » May 30th, 2017, 5:45 pm

Cmlala17 wrote:If you had the opportunity to steal $1,000,000 in cash from a wealthy person, and you knew you could get away with it (I know this is difficult to imagine, but just assume for a moment that you knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that no one would ever discover that you were the one who took the money, not even the IRS), would you take it? Let's also assume that the wealthy person would not be financially devastated as a result of losing the money you took. She would be upset and unable to do things she wanted to do with the money, but she would still be pretty wealthy after losing the money. Would you take the money? Why or why not? After all, maybe it isn't wrong to take the money. It depends on the reasons for or against.
You've got it backwards. It isn't up to the ethical to "justify" NOT stealing. That is the default ethical position. It is up to you to justify stealing.
"As usual... it depends."

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Re: Money and Ethics

Post by Spectrum » June 1st, 2017, 3:28 am

Cmlala17 wrote:If you had the opportunity to steal $1,000,000 in cash from a wealthy person, and you knew you could get away with it (I know this is difficult to imagine, but just assume for a moment that you knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that no one would ever discover that you were the one who took the money, not even the IRS), would you take it? Let's also assume that the wealthy person would not be financially devastated as a result of losing the money you took. She would be upset and unable to do things she wanted to do with the money, but she would still be pretty wealthy after losing the money. Would you take the money? Why or why not? After all, maybe it isn't wrong to take the money. It depends on the reasons for or against.
This sort of Trolley case study re Morality and Ethics are inefficient because the variable conditions in reality are infinite to cover.

As I had been proposing, the most effective Moral and Ethical approach is the System-based Moral and Ethical Framework.

In this approach we observe the empirical reality and abstract absolute moral laws and maxims as ideals for guidance.

Re stealing the assets of others, the golden rule applies, i.e. no one [except perverts] in the world would be pleased to have their assets stolen. The majority of those who assets are stolen are likely to suffer to some degree relative by quantity and one's wealth.

In a system-based Moral and Ethical Framework, the test is what if the maxim is made universal. If stealing is made permissible universally and made legal then there will be lots of untold sufferings.

Therefore the starting point is to made 'stealing absolutely not permissible' and regarded as as immoral.
What counts in Morality is the internal moral system of the individual and his conscience.
As for stealing as a crime, this is legislature and judiciary, which is not exactly morality but more to do with politics.

From the above all human beings must adopt the moral maxim, stealing is absolutely not permissible, no ifs nor buts.

In the practical world at present, human nature is such that there will be people who cannot control their impulse and will steal, especially the kleptomaniacs.
The process of the system-based moral framework is those who steal must self analyze with help from others why there is a moral gap in them and why was their conscience not active in stopping their desire and action of stealing. From this analysis they will have to take preventive actions.

What about those who are totally ignorant of the above moral system.
In this case the said moral system will provide strategies on how to get the majority or all humans to be educated with the system and train themselves to align with the system.

With the system-based system, there is no need for Trolley or casuistry deliberations which are not effective because there will be an infinite of cases with infinite conditions to deliberate upon.
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Re: Money and Ethics

Post by Ranvier » August 21st, 2017, 6:24 pm

As often as such scenarios are entertaining to our intellect, by design such dilemmas search for a single "right answer". That is a faulty premise of those in pursuit of an absolute moral "framework". I've said this many times before, ethics and morality arise from within not from outside natural environment. What if I change that scenario to this:

"A man is faced with a similar ethical dilemma but his daughter has an easily treatable cancer using cloning technique of healthy bone marrow, where such procedure is not covered by his health insurance is excess of $1M without which his daughter will die within a week. On the flip side, the father is well aware that the man from whom he would be stealing the 1M, is a wealthy financial speculator who legally "steals" money for a living. What should the man do then?"

-- Updated August 21st, 2017, 7:07 pm to add the following --

In my view... I would ask if he needs a bag?
I would say to the father that it would be the right thing to do in taking the money, even if unethical.

-- Updated August 21st, 2017, 7:18 pm to add the following --

... Especially since the man's daughter would live to make ten times more in profit in her lifetime for the thieving "victim".

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Re: Money and Ethics

Post by -1- » August 22nd, 2017, 5:17 am

I would not take the million. Because -- this is a precipitating cause, not a rationalizing explanation -- theft goes against social morals. Morals are only effective when one internalizes them. Once they are internalized, they create decisions for the individual.

Most natural morals are absolutes in the sense that man can't act against them. If you see your child drowning, you jump in the water without hesitation and without asking yourself what you should do.

There are social morals, that aid society and co-operation between members. Society tries its darndest to instill social morals. It does it psychologically, by peer pressure, by legal means, by social customs. You don't cheat on your spouse every day, or ever, because religion, your family, your spouse's family, all would punish you. This transmogrifies in a strange way into guilt that the person feels afterward should the person break his or her own already internalized social moral rules.

I stole some money once forty years ago when I lived in a rooming house. I was not discovered, uncovered, threatened or punished. But I was a nervous wreck for three days because of a feeling of guilt, not of fear of punishment, and at the end I returned the money. I learned there and then, that there are things I can do and feel confident about it not affecting me, while it does affect me and affect me strongly emotionally after the fact. That is why I don't cheat on my current lover. I love her, fine, but she loves me, and I know I would feel awful seeing the sorrow in her eyes after she learns I cheat on her. There are some really, very attractive women who would be game (or so I imagine), but I say no to myself, due to this effect.

If you want to have an example and read a thorough treatment of this in a literary form, then I suggest for you to read Dostoyevski's "Crime and Punishment". This is a brilliant-brilliant book that describes the series of serious emotional struggles one goes through after an act. The act is justified BEFORE the fact, but one feels is a horrible unjust deed AFTER the fact.

So... to make a long story short, social morals can be assumed by the individual to be individual morals, and these internalized moral struggles can be very strong, although their enactment of making decisions for the individual are different from individual psychological-type moral forces.

Individual moral forces:
- are immediate acting
- you don't kneed to think whether and how to obey them
- are helping your DNA or its closest approximation to survive into the future

Social moral forces:
- are a matter of consideration
- must be acquired first, as they are not naturally planted in one's "container" of moral and ethical behavour
- may be contravened and disobeyed
- do not aid the survival (necessarily) of the individual, rather, they aid the survival of the group.
- is less likely contravened or disobeyed with the advancement of one's chronological age and with one's maturity level.
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Re: Money and Ethics

Post by Ranvier » August 22nd, 2017, 12:36 pm

-1-

How would you advise the father in the above scenario I had presented in my previous post? Would "stealing" be part of the individual natural law or the social moral law? Morality is a similar concept to love, most humans are capable of experiencing it but everyone has a different opinion. We can sit around and deliberate morality but unless we are faced with a particular dilemma we CAN'T know how we will feel until after the fact of "committing an act". Some people actually have to kill someone or cheat on their spouse to "understand" their individual morality, others somehow know the "right" from "wrong" before the act. Unfortunately some people will never understand, before or even after the "deed" is done.

However, I like to think about the OP question before I conclude each of my posts. In this regard I will agree with -1- that the concept of money and the act of "stealing" of such "money property" is a social moral law that should not supersede the individual moral impose, especially in that particular case.

-- Updated August 22nd, 2017, 12:43 pm to add the following --

..."individual moral impose"... The father's understanding that if he doesn't take the money, his daughter will die.

-- Updated August 22nd, 2017, 12:50 pm to add the following --

This places an entirely different perspective on foreclosures on thousands of home owners after 2007 market crash but hundreds of $billions spent on bailouts for financial institutions to keep them afloat to proceed with foreclosures. Doesn't seem very moral now...

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Re: Money and Ethics

Post by -1- » August 22nd, 2017, 3:07 pm

Thanks for the question, Ranvier.

this is how I see it:
- individual morals dictate that the father steal the money to save his daughter's life.
- social morals stop him from stealing.
- Whether social morals are internalized by the man or not, individual morals will ace the social morals.
- he may end up feeling guilty after the theft, but not as guilty as when he wouldn't steal the money and his daughter died as a direct consequence of his cowardice to steal the money.
- in cases like this I normally advise the father to push his daughter under a speeding Mac truck, so he doesn't need to go through the agony of making such difficult and painful moral decisions.
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Re: Money and Ethics

Post by Ranvier » August 22nd, 2017, 5:05 pm

Ah, but that's what life is all about... to make such moral decisions ;)

I'm happy that we agree in regards of individual morals superseding social morals. The question becomes how do we arrange the society to be more conducive to more powerful individual moral principles?

-- Updated August 22nd, 2017, 5:16 pm to add the following --

Let me really quickly add this for why individual morals should take over...
Society can't get hurt as it's not an entity, only individuals get hurt. In this case, the right to live outweighs the right to "property". Especially if the billionaire is insured and the weight of the consequence of the theft is spread among the population of individuals (society). Sadly, mostly the poorest individuals in the society.

-- Updated August 22nd, 2017, 5:22 pm to add the following --

I don't want to impose my logic or space in this thread beyond modest etiquette but this should also apply to deliberations about homosexuality, abortion, death penalty...ect.

-- Updated August 22nd, 2017, 5:37 pm to add the following --

Apologies, but I would be remiss without indicating understanding of a problem with this philosophy, where homeless people would then have an individual moral right to "move in" to the billionaire's mansion. Hopefully the homeless would realize that "homelessness" is a social issue subject to a social morality rather than imposition on that particular individual billionaire.

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Re: Money and Ethics

Post by Spectrum » August 22nd, 2017, 10:48 pm

Ranvier wrote:Ah, but that's what life is all about... to make such moral decisions ;)
I'm happy that we agree in regards of individual morals superseding social morals. The question becomes how do we arrange the society to be more conducive to more powerful individual moral principles?
Simply 'individual morals superseding social morals' is not an effective approach.

In general, the collective brain is definitely more superior to the individual's brain.
The question is how to raise the average collective Moral Quotient of the collective to its optimal level on a continual improvement basis to the highest possible.

Since the collective moral quotient is supported by all the individuals as in Team Humanity, thus each individual is a co-partner in setting the said moral standard of the collective. In this case the individual is setting up his own moral law for his own guidance.

As for the individual we have the following scenarios.
  • 1. Individuals with higher than average Moral Quotient [MQ]: they will naturally and spontaneously act morally good and should contribute to help those with lower.

    2. Individuals with slightly lower than average MQ: they should strive to develop to increase the MQ level.

    3. Individuals with very much lower than average MQ: these individuals will have to ensure they comply with the Moral Standards of the Collective, else will have to face penalties for non-compliance. Meantime, various methods should be introduced to increase the MQ levels where possible.
So in general, it is the individuals who must align with the moral standards of the collective which is progressing morally with continuous improvement.
The question becomes how do we arrange the society to be more conducive to more powerful moral principles?
One good case study is that of the accepted universal moral standard banning of slavery by all countries within the UN.
100 years ago, slavery was still legal in many countries but at present it is banned in all countries within the UN.
see: https://en.wik1pedia.org/wiki/Timeline_ ... l_timeline
There is also a global consciousness that slavery is evil.

If we can study and understand the process of how humanity has achieved this universal moral standard and made in legal in all countries, we could use the knowledge to do it for other moral standards.

Note:
Those religions [especially the Abrahamic with Islam as the worst] with immutable holy doctrines in their text that support slavery and those that do not condemned slavery are stuck with a dilemma. If their God who promised them eternal life support slavery, they [beleivers] cannot go against their God and thus implicitly has to support slavery.

It is evident in the case of slavery [as with others], secular morality is more adaptable, efficient and superior to theistic/religious morality in the future.
Not-a-theist. Religion is a critical necessity for humanity now, but not the FUTURE.

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Re: Money and Ethics

Post by Ranvier » August 23rd, 2017, 12:10 am

Wow...
In general, the collective brain is definitely more superior to the individual's brain.
That is a bold claim! I'll try not to be offended, personally.
So much "wrong" in a single post, you have given me much to think about that I'm not sure where to even begin. MQ?? "Should" contribute... people with low MQ "strive"... "face penalties"... "must align with collective"... "universal moral standard"... "all countries"...

I could write an entire book on the "wrongness" of ill advised misrepresentation of any religion in purposeful "literal" interpretation that brings nothing "good" to the table:

Note:
Those religions [especially the Abrahamic with Islam as the worst] with immutable holy doctrines in their text that support slavery and those that do not condemned slavery are stuck with a dilemma. If their God who promised them eternal life support slavery, they [beleivers] cannot go against their God and thus implicitly has to support slavery.



You can't build a morally just society with such immoral... "conduct". And this comes from an Agnostic.

I'm not sure if I should be worried or afraid... Are you building a Fascist society? Borg hive? Or some other totalitarian oppressive system?

I will burst you bubble by asserting that slavery never ended... it's just in a less obvious form. Fix that before making any positive claims about slavery or begin to propose an entirely new type of slavery.

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Re: Money and Ethics

Post by Spectrum » August 23rd, 2017, 12:58 am

Ranvier wrote:Wow...
In general, the collective brain is definitely more superior to the individual's brain.
That is a bold claim! I'll try not to be offended, personally.
So much "wrong" in a single post, you have given me much to think about that I'm not sure where to even begin. MQ?? "Should" contribute... people with low MQ "strive"... "face penalties"... "must align with collective"... "universal moral standard"... "all countries"...
When your knowledge is lacking do not try to be too smart.
Have you ever come across and understood the concept of synergy, i.e. 1 + 1 = 3.
wiki wrote:Synergy is the creation of a whole that is greater than the simple sum of its parts. The term synergy comes from the Attic Greek word συνεργία synergia[1] from synergos, συνεργός, meaning "working together".
The synergy resultant is generated in physical and mental collaboration within groups and the collective, i.e. in this case effective morality.
By default the collective will always be more positive than the individual within an efficient morality framework.

I suggest you read more widely to update yourself on the related issues.
This Universal Moral Standards from the collective are not my own ideas but from Kant who is recognized as one of the greatest philosophers of all time. E.g.
  • 1. "Act only according to that maxim whereby you can at the same time will that it should become a universal law."

    2. "Act as if the maxims of your action were to become through your will a universal law of nature."

    3. "Thus the third practical principle follows [from the first two] as the ultimate condition of their harmony with practical reason: the idea of the will of every rational being as a universally legislating will."
I could write an entire book on the "wrongness" of ill advised misrepresentation of any religion in purposeful "literal" interpretation that brings nothing "good" to the table:

Note:
Those religions [especially the Abrahamic with Islam as the worst] with immutable holy doctrines in their text that support slavery and those that do not condemned slavery are stuck with a dilemma. If their God who promised them eternal life support slavery, they [beleivers] cannot go against their God and thus implicitly has to support slavery.



You can't build a morally just society with such immoral... "conduct". And this comes from an Agnostic.
Why not?
As I had stated it is possible when the average Moral Quotient is increased significantly.
I'm not sure if I should be worried or afraid... Are you building a Fascist society? Borg hive? Or some other totalitarian oppressive system?
The above ideas reflect panic rather than challenging them intellectually and philosophically.
I will burst you bubble by asserting that slavery never ended... it's just in a less obvious form. Fix that before making any positive claims about slavery or begin to propose an entirely new type of slavery.
There is no bubble to burst. I did not assert that slavery never ended.

What I have stated is a fact, all nations within the UN has laws to ban slavery.
Obviously there is a difference between what is enacted as Laws and what is going on the ground in practice where people will attempt to break the Law in direct or indirect forms.

The difference between the Moral Standard and what is actually happening constitute the Moral Gap which society must make an attempt to narrow as much as possible. Note the Moral Standard approach provide a fixed goal post as a fixed goal to strive for instead of moving goal posts that are inefficient.

I cannot see where and how you could propose a moral system that is more efficient than what I had proposed.
Not-a-theist. Religion is a critical necessity for humanity now, but not the FUTURE.

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Re: Money and Ethics

Post by Burning ghost » August 23rd, 2017, 1:21 am

This is pretty much Crime and Punishment.

You say they would be "upset" and not be able to "do the things they wanted to do". If I knew that they would not miss the money due to anything but greed I would take it without a second thought. The problem with the question here is also that people will reply to this on this forum under the scrutiny of others so will, willingly or not, pander to how they would be viewed.

In your hypothetical we may say no here and yet yes in reality, or the other way around.

What I would WANT to do is the only way I can answer this question reasonably open manner.

If the person in question could not go on holiday, or was setback for a short period of time, but still filthy rich, I would certainly take it. If they REALLY needed the money for some project that would help others then I may not if I could not see how they could shift fund around to keep the project alive.

If you are just asking me if I would take money for free my answer is yes. Really we are talking about what price you are willing to pay to get the money, or under what circumstances you would punch someone in the face or help someone etc. Very good things to play around with in your head and define yourself by confronting some quite horrific aspects of your own humanity (which we all possess and generally try to avoid.)

If the person was Bill Gates and he left the room with 1 million on the table in some absent minded act I would take it if I knew I wouldn't be caught ... yet I would also wish to sit and talk to Bill because I find him a very interesting person. I don't think he would miss the money and I believe it would only be good for me to take the money if I had no guilt attached to the action (otherwise I could possibly spiral into moral turmoil.)

Really, if we find ourselves trying to justify taking some action we need to seriously look more closely at way we are trying to justify it, what the need to do so is and struggle with being honest to ourselves to guard against future psychological conflict.

If I see someone drop money I tell them. I don't wait for them to walk away and then take it for myself. If I was living on the street and starving I doubt I'd act in the same manner being compelled to simply live and breath another day (if my mindset was one fighting to survive.)

I really like that you've removed the problem of "law" here. Morally there is no law other than what you decide. A very hard issue in life is figuring out exactly what your views are regardless of "law" and the judgement of others. You may just be the most immoral wretch simply because you are concerned about adhering to the law and overly conscious of the opinions of others, thus acting to please rather than acting as you believe to be truly good and right according to your own grounding.
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Re: Money and Ethics

Post by Ranvier » August 23rd, 2017, 3:57 am

Spectrum

I'm quite certain that you are intelligent and probably noble in your strive for a better world. I did not attack your knowledge or wisdom, I never would even if conversing with someone of limited intellect, in resorting to such means I only reflect weakness of argument and undermine the position in credibility of my own intellect.
"When your knowledge is lacking do not try to be too smart".
"I suggest you read more widely to update yourself on the related issues".
I can only be certain of my own morality, especially when I don't observe much of it in the "superior collective" framework you would have me to follow.

"The synergy resultant is generated in physical and mental collaboration within groups and the collective, i.e. in this case effective morality.
By default the collective will always be more positive than the individual within an efficient morality framework".



This is a problem I often find with people quoting other people with whom I may not converse, namely dead people. It's as if conversing with a radical Theist who can't think on his own but continues to quote religious texts in a flawed context as a literal word of God, difficult to argue with that... Even if you were an expert on Kant, I'm conversing with you not Kant, therefore you must defend alone your understanding of what you are presenting from your subjective understanding of Kant. I mean really... MQ? How can you qualify morality as a quotient? From this alone I can tell that we most likely wouldn't find much in common in our understanding of morality and not the least to find a Universal framework out of the thin air.
"This Universal Moral Standards from the collective are not my own ideas but from Kant who is recognized as one of the greatest philosophers of all time. E.g..."
How is this for a philosophical challenge: One cannot intellectually deduce morality! That is a sheer nonsense! I'm confident in this assertion because nobody can objectively define good or evil. Perhaps it is panic, especially when someone proposes evil to be good.

"The above ideas reflect panic rather than challenging them intellectually and philosophically".



... then you follow with this:
"The difference between the Moral Standard and what is actually happening constitute the Moral Gap which society must make an attempt to narrow as much as possible. Note the Moral Standard approach provide a fixed goal post as a fixed goal to strive for instead of moving goal posts that are inefficient".
The moral gap? Yes, there is a moral gap between myself and the collection of delusional strangers. I am part of the society, as much as the society is part of me, so yes I must continue to elevate the moral standards to shield individuals from the "superior collective" fallacy.

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