General Question

ninjacolin's avatar

Why not steal?

Asked by ninjacolin (14243points) June 16th, 2011
28 responses
“Great Question” (5points)

Steal: To take without permission, without legal right and without the intention of returning the item to the person(s) you took it from.

Why not?

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Answers

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ninjacolin's avatar

@worriedguy.. If I did invite you, why might you not steal from me?

mazingerz88's avatar

@ninjacolin Lol. If one steals without compunction, one might say that person’s sanity has already been stolen. One cannot steal because punishment always awaits in one form or another. Those who risk it are either adventure seekers, desperate or cold hard calculating profit seekers. These reasons are the very answers to your question, why not?

ninjacolin's avatar

One reason: Stealing damages relationships. If branded as untrustworthy, the thief loses the privileged of trust from his victims and from his victim’s sympathizers. Would suck to be an outcast or hunted.

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josie's avatar

To steal presumes that one is deserving of or entitled to the property of another without having done anything to produce it or trade for it.

This is objectively not a true fact. The only person who is entitled to the disposition of their property is the person who produced it or legally traded for it.

Anytime someone makes a choice of action based on any untrue premise, they open the door to making every choice based on untrue premises.

Such epistemological recklessness is a threat to individual survival, and disruptive to the social organization.

That is why not.

wundayatta's avatar

Because if you get caught, you’ll be ostracized by the community.

Because if everyone cooperates, we are all better off than if people spend a lot of time trying to protect against thieves.

LuckyGuy's avatar

@ninjacolin “If I did invite you, why might you not steal from me?”

Because that is your stuff. You shouldn’t have to waste time and resources protecting it. It can get so bad none of us could leave our homes. If items were stolen freely stores and businesses would have no desire to sell or produce anything.

ETpro's avatar

“Why not steal?” Because what goes around comes around. Because it’s illegal here and if you do it often enough to really profit from it, there’s a substantial chance you;ll get caught, lose most or all of the profits of your crime, and spend many years in prison being some big brickyard Bubba’s little sweetheart. And finally, because we all profit more from an orderly society than from one like Somalia or other failed states where anything goes.

QueenOfNowhere's avatar

Honestly, there isn’t a rule as “don’t steal”....morally.
right and wrong depends on who thinks.
I think stealing is wrong , but I still can steal because this is my body and I’m living my life. Therefore, I am the most important subject here to me.

josie's avatar

@QueenOfNowhere
right and wrong depends on who thinks.
And it is exactly that confused notion of moral principle that makes it easy for some people to steal.

LostInParadise's avatar

@ninjacolin , It is not just a matter of being labeled an outcast. You could get sent away to prison and have diminished job opportunities upon being let out.

There arises the interesting question of whether you should steal if you can get away with it. This comes down to morality. One time I paid for some items with a check for $80. When I came home, the check was in the bag with what I had purchased. I returned the check to the store, not getting so much as a thank you. When I told others about what I did, some were not so certain that they would have returned the check.

crackerjacked's avatar

Stealing is a choice someone makes when they either:
1. Have no where left to turn to realise a result in a matter of survival…

or:

2. Do not posses enough will power or self worth to dig deep and try harder to afford it or achieve it on their own….

1. Should only take place if the person is concious of his/her decision and can realistically balance their ‘need’ versus the pain caused to the rightful owner. It doesn’t make it right… but if it is necessary, it is necessary.

2. Is simply greed. If you can’t afford it – work harder. If you can’t achieve something – try harder. If fate befalls you and you are physically unable to work or try harder… Think of a new way to achieve your goal… but don’t steal to reach it.

This applies to a loaf of bread, exam questions, money, a car, a girlfriend/boyfriend… pretty much anything really… it’s not about what others will think of you if you steal, or even what they will do to you – be it prison or good beating… it is about what you can live with, what that knowledge will do to your soul, self confidence and downwardly spiralling sense of self. Sounds mushy… but it is true.

derekfnord's avatar

It seems like many Jellies are essentially answering with some form of “because it’s against societal rules, and therefore there’ll be consequences.” I think @ninjacolin is actually asking “Why is it against societal rules?” Instinctively, I think it’s proper that it should be against societal rules. But I’m having a devilishly difficult time thinking of a way of articulating exactly why it should be (in a manner that doesn’t boil down to “it’s just wrong”).

crisw's avatar

At base, because you don’t want to be stolen from.

If we have a system of rights at all (and even those who proclaim “I just do what I feel like” really rarely mean this when the universal implications of such actions are evident), it is to protect our interests as sentient beings. Among these interests are possession and use of our belongings.

In order for a moral system to work, it has to be logical and consistent. A society where everyone steals whatever they want is unpleasant and unworkable. To say “I will steal what I want because I want to” is an untenable ethic- those who proclaim this are not busy offering up their possessions for others to take and are ready to defend them! Therefore, a basic right in an ethical society is to be able to own things that we have lawfully acquired, and not to have them taken from us unethically.

ETpro's avatar

@derekfnord A society where stealing is legal would be one of vigalante justice to retain what you can gather and very little incentive to create anything of worth, because as soon as you do, a greedy neighbor or gang will just take it from you. It would thus be a society where little or nothing gets produced, starvation and deprivation would be the norm. We have property right laws because we don’t want our society to function like that.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

‘Cause it causes harm to another.

Your_Majesty's avatar

Because it’s not necessary, yet. I will steal if it’s the matter of survival. I encourage poor children to steal in famine situation where they can do nothing but starve to death. There are many problems and activities that are seen as negative in this world, I just try accept the reality.

Neizvestnaya's avatar

Because someone is losing. There are the fine lines as @Your_Majesty makes example but for the most part, if you steal for any other reason, you possibly harm someone/s.

Stealing fruit from a grove of trees seems harmless, especially when you see the amount of dropped spoiled fruit on the ground but to the fruit farmer it adds up when harvest comes and the farmer is paid by weight or volume.

When items are stolen from stores then the losses are reflected in higher prices for all who shop and it could be on items different than those stolen.

Stealin’s bad.

ratboy's avatar

Stealing is only reprehensible if done on a small scale. In the US, we celebrate and reward corporate entities that steal from everyone except the handful of people in control of them. Want a license to steal? Incorporate yourself and think big. If only all this self-righteous disdain were directed toward the the most egregious malefactors.

Theodore Roosevelt:
Too much cannot be said against the men of wealth who sacrifice everything to getting wealth. There is not in the world a more ignoble character than the mere money-getting American, insensible to every duty, regardless of every principle, bent only on amassing a fortune, and putting his fortune only to the basest uses —whether these uses be to speculate in stocks and wreck railroads himself, or to allow his son to lead a life of foolish and expensive idleness and gross debauchery, or to purchase some scoundrel of high social position, foreign or native, for his daughter. Such a man is only the more dangerous if he occasionally does some deed like founding a college or endowing a church, which makes those good people who are also foolish forget his real iniquity. These men are equally careless of the working men, whom they oppress, and of the State, whose existence they imperil. There are not very many of them, but there is a very great number of men who approach more or less closely to the type, and, just in so far as they do so approach, they are curses to the country. (Forum, February 1895.) Mem.Ed. XV, 10; Nat. Ed. XIII, 9.

LostInParadise's avatar

We are all collectively responsible for the overall moral climate. If we steal then we increase, if ever so slightly, the assent to stealing.

Not to go off subject, but this is part of my argument against capital punishment. By killing people, the state affixes its stamp of approval on murder. You can’t get away with saying, it’s okay if we do it but not if you do it.,

rock4ever's avatar

Because it’s some one else-s, duh!

laureth's avatar

A society where theft is allowed, is a society where one cannot be secure in ones’ possessions. If you are not even remotely secure, it’s hard to do anything else but defend yourself. Society cannot run in this manner, at least not the kind we’ve come to accept as civilized.

There are societies where personal property is not the same concept as it is here. If you don’t have the concept of ownership, you can’t have the concept of theft. However, even then, one must be secure in a Maslow’s Hierarchy kind of way, to know that at the very least, someone would owe you food and shelter. That’s the only way a society where any particular belonging could be freely taken would work, I think, to have a society without personal property, but where needs are met as a group.

ninjacolin's avatar

Some of your answers indicate that you’d have some good suggestions for this thread. :)

Thanks so much for your replies. Here’s another reply to the question of the thread I posted elsewhere. It elaborates on the appeal to realistic consequences:

I think big moral questions like “Should I steal?” or “Should I murder” often come down to a question of risk taking that shouldn’t be fallaciously ignored. Just like the decision to drink and drive, the fact of the matter is that more people survive instances of drinking and driving experiences unharmed than they do suffer from them. Still, it’s considered a better idea not to Drink and Drive in any given instance and I think I know why. In trying to figure it out, I’ve come up with a moral principal I’d like to put to you for your review: Whether or not you perceive unharmed-survival in any one instance of Drinking and Driving (or stealing, or murdering, or what have you) is clearly a false dilemma since few (if any) drunk drivers perceive failure when they make their decision to participate. Get what I’m saying? The relevant (hence, logical/moral) question isn’t whether I will survive this instance. Similar to what you noted about the realities of the universe where concerns floating and air, we happen to live quite obviously in a universe that doesn’t guarantee our perceptions about the future will work out historically. The relevant (sound/moral) question to be asking myself then has to be: Are the consequences of failure in this instance worth the risk of participation in this instance? (Also consider: Are the consequences of failure in this instance superior to the consequences of failure of other optional instances, for example, an accident with a sober chauffeur (taxi/designated driver))

ETpro's avatar

@ratboy Great Answer. If that trend isn’t soon reversed, more and more people will be pushed to steal just to survive. I don’t think such a society even serves the interests of the Wall Street Banksters and the Corporate jet setters well. It is sad how far the GOP has wandered from really caring about America since the days of Teddy Roosevelt.

The_Inquisitor's avatar

I would just feel bad… =\

chewhorse's avatar

Why not steal? Allow that question to run through your mind at a time when you enter your apartment and find everything has been taken.. THEN you’ll know!

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