Can theft be moral?

Discussion in 'Law and Justice System' started by Diuretic, Jul 18, 2008.

  1. Diuretic
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    Diuretic Permanently confused

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    In societies where private property is a cultural feature there is usually a legal prohibition against taking the private property of someone else without their consent. This is usually called "theft". Different societies have different defintions of theft which makes it a bit difficult to try and work out whether an act of theft can be moral.

    In fact it could be a stinking big red herring to try and work out if theft can be moral if we're using legal concepts to try and decide the question. The law isn't so much about morality as practicality.

    The primary concern of a court is this - is the defendant guilty?

    There's usually no examination of the morality of an alleged act or series of acts. The search is on for admissible evidence which will allow the court to draw the conclusion that the defendant did, beyond a reasonable doubt, in fact carry out those actions which are alleged in the indictment.

    If the actions can't be excused by a general or specific defence then the defendant will be found guilty. The court can then consider the circumstances of the defendant's actions (among other things) in deciding on penalty. There is no examination of morality.

    So in a sense the crime of theft falls outside the "is it moral" discussion if the discussion is only grounded on whether or not the crime of theft was committed.

    So it's probably necessary to look at attendant circumstances to decide of a series of actions which would be described by a court as a crime can in fact be moral when examined outside of the legal framework.

    Can taking another person's property without their permission ever be moral.

    I say it can be moral.
     
  2. LOki
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    LOki The Yaweh of Mischief

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    Agreed. There is a reason for this--property is an extension of someone's life; it is the product of someones merits, and actions. Even in societies where the notion of property is somewhat vague, the notion that taking another person's life is wrong in principle, is usually not quite so vague.

    Let's then simplify it by using your definition: "...taking the private property of someone else without their consent."

    Good. So let dispense with "legalities" since they don't neccessarily address the morality of the issue.

    You've stated this elswhere, but you still have failed to expain how so.
     
    Last edited: Jul 18, 2008
  3. editec
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    editec Mr. Forgot-it-All

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    How about if the property you're stealing was stolen to begin with?

    Is it theft then?
     
  4. Ravi
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    Ravi Diamond Member

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    Can theft be moral?

    It depends.
     
  5. LOki
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    LOki The Yaweh of Mischief

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    Irrelevent. If the stolen property is not yours, then you're still stealing; and if it was, then you're not stealing.

    Of course it is--unless you're simply taking back what is rightfully yours anyway.
     
  6. LOki
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    LOki The Yaweh of Mischief

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    On what?


    And if you say "context"; on what context, exactly?
     
  7. Ravi
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    Ravi Diamond Member

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    On the circumstances. Theft to save someone's life...I would consider moral. Theft for nothing but personal gain...I would consider immoral.

    Is it always immoral in your view?
     
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  8. editec
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    editec Mr. Forgot-it-All

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    Irrelevant if the stolen property was stolen from you father, grandfather and so forth?

    What if it was stolen legally, but stolen nevertheless?

    those of you seeking one-liner philosophies to guide you are rather silly, I think.

    The world is complex and we cannot be guided by simplistic slogans however noble their sentiment appears to simpletons.
     
  9. Paulie
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    Paulie Platinum Member

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    Oh my goodness, such an insightful display of wisdom! The epidome of enlightenment! Stop Rav, you're making the rest of us look bad!
     
  10. Paulie
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    Paulie Platinum Member

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    If everyone went around stealing other people's shit to "save someone's life", we'd have one hell of a mess Rav.
     

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