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David Gorniak

Bar Tender/ Night Porter/ Aspiring Writer/ Part time philosopher,

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The 10p Issue.

We all know that stealing is wrong. But Imagine if someone stole as little as 10p from you? Then imagine that someone stole as little as a penny from you which was part of a scheme to steal enough pennies to make a million pounds. In which circumstance would you be more annoyed and why?

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    Jul 17 2012: Two QUOTES:
    "Thou shalt not steal.:-- The Holy Bible
    "All stealing is comparative. If you come to absolutes, pray who does not steal?"-- Ralph Waldo Emerson
    Stealing is wrong.
    • Jul 18 2012: I know that stealinjg is wrong in the simplistic case. But unless you are saying that no matter how small amount that it is being stolen the sense that someone has stolen something from you would make you feel bad enough. Or in other words are you saying it's not what it is being stolen that matters but the fact that something has been stolen?
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    Jul 16 2012: guy drives in a gas station, and asks: "how much for a drop of gas?". owner says "a drop? free, man." "free? wonderful! then drip my tank full, friend."
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    Jul 21 2012: I think you've already gotten what you were after, but maybe I can add to the clarification...

    The first case, a single-target loss of insignificant value, would not perturb me. I'd probably find it cute if a young child tried sneaking a candy. Sure, it's stealing, and her mama had best set her straight, but me annoyed? Not at all. I'd be amused, even if I were the shopkeeper. It's trivial to me, although not so for the child if uncorrected.

    In the second case, the salami-shaving scam, I'd be angry that one would profit off the whole in this parasitic manner. We all can't get a free ride, so why should this guy? Within the morality is a question of social fairness. The society as a whole is involved, a far bigger deal than the first case.
  • Jul 20 2012: Stealing is not wrong.
  • Jul 18 2012: "We all know that stealing is wrong. But Imagine if someone stole as little as 10p from you? Then imagine that someone stole as little as a penny from you which was part of a scheme to steal enough pennies to make a million pounds. In which circumstance would you be more annoyed and why?"

    For either amount, I would not be annoyed for more than a few seconds. It is still wrong. And in the second case, if I was aware of this scheme, I would inform the police.
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    Jul 17 2012: It's not the stealing of multiple 10ps that should in spire the feeling of guilt. It's the fact that you would have derived a financial living without making a contribution to the society you live in. For a society to work there is an unwritten expectation that we all give and take. Feeling your own contribution is what really makes people happy. That's why there are so many dissatisfied well off people and so many people who work low paying but rewarding jobs happily.
    • Jul 17 2012: Thanks Peter, I would say that this is the most satisfatcory answer as you have seen the question being about morality and you are right the flaw would be gaining something from nothing i.e. to not have worked for it or contributed to society. On reflection i would say that someone stealing 10p from myself wouldn't bother me but I guess i would be a bit upset if i found out what that 10p was part of.
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        Jul 17 2012: Its like a low tech version of an internet scam where you skim 10p from every transaction. no one notices but but when people find out they are outraged because its cheating.
  • Jul 16 2012: Why would you sell your honesty for 10p? Is it worth so little to you?
    • Jul 17 2012: So for yourself morality is driven by a sense of pride? (ps i hope you realise that the question isn't a personal one. I don't intend to pull off such a feat myself, its just an example to highlight one of many issues in morality)
    • Jul 17 2012: further, what if the premise was changed to a situation where everyone was told they'd be losing 10p? Maybe even 10p is too much. In the extreme case what if it was just a penny per person (you'd need a lot of people but just imagine it theoretically ) Anyway in that case the issue of honesty is addressed and i seriously doubt anyone would miss a penny. But intuitively i would still sense a fault in morality but what would that be?
      • Jul 18 2012: There is nothing complicated here.

        To quote Edward Long, "Stealing is wrong."
        • Jul 18 2012: Edward,
          You are completely right. Stealing is wrong and it's not a complicated notion either.
          But maybe I phrased the whole question wrong, i have been struggling to come to grips with what I am trying to ask my self. Anyway you may notice that I have changed the question slightly.
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    Jul 16 2012: I taught my kids my true values: If it is not yours do not touch it.
    It is a slippery slide. How much is too much to take/ If you start down that road you are already a thief.
  • Jul 16 2012: Who was it that taught a simple truth: He who can be trusted with a little can be trusted with a lot---?

    I once saw a huge sign in the accounting department of a company which had this advice: Watch the pennies and the dollars will take care of themselves.

    Let those who have ears, hear!
  • Jul 16 2012: Taking money without the person's content is defined by Hammurabi as immoral. Most modern morals are somewhere in that code, so we'll go by that here. That should be the end of the discussion. If you take 10p or 10,000p, your taking money. In my opinion, you can tell yourself anything you like to make you feel better about taking the money, to drive down the guilt: "Oh, it's only 10p. They won't miss it," or to drive away the panic: "Oh, it's only 10p. I have plenty more that they DIDN'T take." Either way, it's excuses. They stole money. Period. As to the grand theft of a bunch of people at little amounts to make major mulah, I wouldn't advise it. How are you going to explain that on your taxes? And are you really going to throw away your life to flee to a third world country with your money (that gets stolen as soon as you're off the plane). No, I think that it's less of an ethics issue and more of a personal choice. People steal stuff all the time. Whether you take two sticks of gum instead of one or rob Fort Knox, it's being sneaky and immoral. Depending on your position and the amount of goods you and the victim make and have leftover afterwards, the answer can be yes and no. But in general, I wouldn't advise it. It gives the bloke a good reason to kick your *ahem.*
    • Jul 16 2012: So from this i gather that the issue of morality has nothing to do with how it might make people feel; that despite it only being 10p and the likelihood that no one would miss it, stealing is wrong, that is, you shouldn't do it because it is wrong despite of whether it hurts the victim or not. Would that be right? I think that's sort of a Kantian morality. Anyway i would have to agree.