Old 3rd May 2002, 07:31   #1
Bop
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If God Does Not Exist, Everything is Permitted

While working one evening last week, a friend of mine, who also works at the store, asked me if I would steal for him a piece of jewelry. It was a sapphire necklace that sells for $200. My immediate response was obviously, NO! He begged me, and told me no one would find out. Which is true, I could easily have put it into my pocket and no one would be the wiser. But then I would have to live with myself, wouldn't I? I began to think about the situation a little bit and some interesting issues arose. Why did I say no to my friend's request? Because it was the right thing to do? Of course it's the right thing to do, but I didn't initially think that. My first thought was, what if I do happen to get caught? My family would be extremely angry and dissappointed. My employer, having entrusted me with the job, would have been betrayed. I would be robbing the right of someone else who wanted to purchase the item. I would have been taken to court and certainly sentenced with some sort of remediation. But all these things are extrinsic. I am not doing something, so that certain things don't happen to me. Never did it cross my mind that it was simply not the right thing to do. Having told my concerns to my friend; he replied, "all those people don't care about us, why should we care about them?"

Extrinsic motivation kept me from performing a wrong act- because I do care about how my actions will effect other people and myself. But what if, as in the case of my friend, someone does not care about other people? What reason does he have to refrain from doing any of the things usually thought of as wrong; especially if he can get away with it? What reason does he have not to steal, lie, or kill? If he can get what he wants by doing such things, why shouldn't he?

If my interests were not threatened would I have acted differently? Maybe, maybe not? Let me put it another way- let's say you are walking done a hallway, and someone drops a hundred dollar bill. What do you do? Immediately return the hundred dollar bill or quickly put it into your pocket? If you do return it- why? Are you seeking a reward? Are you returning it to save yourself the feeling of guilt? Are you returning it because there are people in the hallway and you want to appear noble? Or are you returning the $100 because it's the right thing to do? And let's say that you do return the $100 bill for one of the extrinsic reasons listed above- does that make your action any less right?

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Old 3rd May 2002, 08:55   #2
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On the Jewelery:

I think that you did the right thing, but not stealing something is an action or expectation that has been ingrained into everybody by wider society.
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Old 3rd May 2002, 09:01   #3
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The title of this thread is misleading. I don't need God to act morally.

*totally off topic* By the way Bop, have you ever seen the film "Koyaanasqatsi"?
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Old 3rd May 2002, 09:38   #4
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I have actually had the $100 bill experience. A bank teller once gave me $100 over my withdrawal. I went back and returned it though I knew no one would ever know where it went. I didn`t even get a thank you from her. She took it kind of hush, hush. Didn`t want the other tellers to know she had made a mistake I suppose.
I think it was Mark Twain who said everything we do is out of selfishness. I believe this. I returned the money because it wasn`t mine and I could live perfectly well without it. Made me feel good because I believe in "do unto others as. etc." I was selfish because it made me happier to return it than to keep it. I would say if your friend doesn`t care about others, then he doesn`t care about himself.
If he will steal from others he will steal from you. Why not ? The only thing worse than him stealing is asking you to steal for him. The necklace is worth more to him than your frienship.
I think you need to have respect and empathy for others. Put yourself in their shoes. If you don`t give respect you won`t get it.
Bottom line; Why not lie, steal, cheat, kill,etc. > if you do enough of it you will get caught and it just may be by one of those people that see no reason not to maim or kill. Course you`ll look good on the stretcher with that $200 necklace around your neck !


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Old 3rd May 2002, 10:37   #5
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I'll return money if I see someone drop it. I will not, however, take money to an information desk if I find it. That's just assinine as far as I'm concerned. If I give the hundred dollars back to the man who dropped it, I've made his day a little better, maybe a whole lot better if that's a large part of his paycheck. If I find a hundred dollars in the middle of the mall, then taking it to the help desk isn't likely to help anyone. I won't have the hundred dollars, and the person who dropped it isn't likely to waste his time going to the help des. Most likely, it'll end up in the pocket of the help desk attendent. Screw that. I could use a hundred dollars.

I don't really know why I would give it back. It would make me feel better to know that I made someone else feel better, though. I guess it's that whole empathy thing we humans have.

As for stealing, and other crimes. That's a bit different. It's damaging to society when you steal. As a direct result, your existence in thast society is lowered in quality. That alone should be reason enough for anyone not to commit crime.

However, I also believe in some sort of God. If I didn't, I think I might feel somewhat different about my morals. I truthfully think I wouldn't have any. If I didn't believe in any sort of God, then as a direct result, I would see no value in human life, property, or society as a whole. If life is just some random accident, then who is to say that I don't have the right to kill anyone I want or steal anything. Damn society. It's just something we random chances of nature have created. If I truly believed that there was no higher purpose to human life than that of the rat, then I would live like a rat. I would take anything and everything I wanted. Why not? If my life here is all I have, then why shouldn't I live it however I want? I beileve I would simply learn to conquer that "empathy" thing which is so troublesome.

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Old 3rd May 2002, 11:37   #6
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i like the term moral absolute.
basically my moral stance will not change in result of time, occassion, political correctness, or peer pressure.

another problem, there would not be good or evil.
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Old 3rd May 2002, 11:43   #7
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God exists, and he/she/IT permits anything.
We do as we choose. That simple it is..

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Old 3rd May 2002, 11:49   #8
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Quote:
Originally posted by Aeroe
another problem, there would not be good or evil.
wich leads to no more LOTR, StarWars, or anything exiting. life would be boring then.

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Old 3rd May 2002, 12:13   #9
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If my interests were not threatened would I have acted differently? Maybe, maybe not? Let me put it another way- let's say you are walking done a hallway, and someone drops a hundred dollar bill. What do you do? Immediately return the hundred dollar bill or quickly put it into your pocket? If you do return it- why? Are you seeking a reward? Are you returning it to save yourself the feeling of guilt? Are you returning it because there are people in the hallway and you want to appear noble? Or are you returning the $100 because it's the right thing to do? And let's say that you do return the $100 bill for one of the extrinsic reasons listed above- does that make your action any less right?
Well personally id pick it up and keep it. I mean its very unlikely the people will come back to get it and anyway, other people might take it if you dont. Possibly id take it to the police station, i suppose that'd be thr right thing.

When i was young there was £10 in the car park ticket machine. I took it but it was weird that a £10 was shoved in the slot.

Weird things always happen to me.

Well done for not taking the jewellery for your friend. If he was a true friend he wouldn't put you in such a difficult position...
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Old 3rd May 2002, 12:18   #10
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hell, i just try to be moral in any situation- the moral right or wrong is for you to decide, and, except on specific issues that are easily debatable on both sides, most people can easily choose "the right thing". in my experience, when people rely on religion for moral guidance, although this is not always true, such guidance is amost always a hindrance to morality.

that said, some people need the threat of consequences in order to steer them away from immorality. most of us have this problem at some point- a lot of things are extremely tempting, and even though you know that they are wrong, the "getting away with it" factor comes in too easily.

but could you live with yourself? that's what it mostly boils down to these days. i get very guilty very easily, so in general i stay on the straight and narrow. but not everyone is like this... as we know...

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Old 3rd May 2002, 14:34   #11
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Quote:
Originally posted by randman
The title of this thread is misleading. I don't need God to act morally.

*totally off topic* By the way Bop, have you ever seen the film "Koyaanasqatsi"?
Sorry about the title...

Anyway, I have seen "Koyaanisqatsi", it's wonderful film. The picture is great because it actually uses the cinematic medium in a way, that I think should be used- no dialogue, just images. You cannot get more pure and elemental than that. Excuse the crude language- but it really fucked with my head, it takes time and mixes it all up, until you don't know when you're coming or going. Am I the only one, or did you also feel as though you were looking through God's eye? At the film's end, He seems to be shaking his head & saying, "What a shame?"

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Old 3rd May 2002, 15:55   #12
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Ah yes..

I too will focus mainly on the $100 question..

If a person drops a $100 dollar bill, would I pick it up and return it to him, or would i take it myself?

This depends on several factors. Where is this person who dropped it (and subsequently the bill itself) in relation to me? Would i need to adjust my course in order to reach it? Would I need to alter the tempo of my advance so that I would be able to return it/reach it before someone else? To be quite honest I would say i might walk right past it if it were in my path and the owner was not within reach. If i thought the owner was within reach, would i notify him of his error? Perhaps if it did not require me to do anything out of the ordinary, like increase my speed, change direction, raise my voice, and so on, in order to complete the safe return of the bill, i might just do it. But then again, I would start to think. This is a one-hundred dollar bill. This is a large amount of money for most people. This being said, most people who carried such a bill would cherish it and make sure it would be kept safe from moral outcasts who might want to take it from them forcibly. I know i would if i were walking around with one, it would be secured in my pocket inside my hand until it was ready to be traded.

If i saw the person who dropped the bill, i would most likely look to see if they were scared/stressed, careless, social status, etc.., in order to judge more carefully the value of that bill to that person . Is it 10 or .010 percent of their income? Is there more where that came from? Was there a specific purpose for this bill? All these factors play in to wether or not I would return it. If it were a well dressed businessman walking casually down the hall, the situation would be different from a mother paying more attention to her baby than the money she was returning to her wallet.

Now, if the owner of the bill would not be within reach, would I pick it up for myself? I think not. In fact, in any case, I think i would just leave it. It is not my money. I did not earn it. I did not recieve it. I did not lose it. This is where indifference kicks in, i have nothing to do with it, and if it hadn't been dropped, i would not even be considering all this. In fact, i would just be walking as calmly as i was at the time i saw the bill. I would most probably walk right past the bill for another person who would need it more, be willing to run after the person who lost it, or just pick it up for own profit regardless, actually came past it.

I did not take it for personal gain when I could have attempted to find the owner, yet i did not pick it up and safeguard it until i found the owner. This, my dear friends, is indifference at work. If you're not a part of the solution, and not a part of the problem, you're just not a part of the situation. And if you're not a part of the situation, there might as well not be one.

Now, mr. george, religion has nothing at all to do with this. Guilt can manifest itself as fear, and this is where it might be applicable, but other than that, it should not have anything to do with it. The reason one would try to help another person is that it causes no harm to the innocent or indifferent. The reason one might not try to help another person is that it causes inconvenience or loss to an innocent or indifferent. In the case of the jewelry, if boplicity heisted the necklace, the store would lose money on it, he himself might get prosecuted from it, which in turn would hurt his family, and cause them trouble and grief, and perhaps discrimination towards them. Everyone has felt embarassed by their parents actions at one point, anything at all could be the trigger, a kiss on the cheek before you get dropped off at school, wiping off a smudge from your face, parents acting like morons at your (insert sport of preference here) game, etc. This is led by feelings that what one who is closely related to you does, might also be percieved by an outsider as something you yourself might do. Embarrassment is usually closely knit to something inappropriate (or in earlier stages of life something you or your peers deem to be inappropriate, like public show of affection), and this in turns makes you fear that others might think that you, since you know and relate to the culprits of this action, might also due to social habit commit the same or similar action in the future, or might already be doing it secretly.

Well, nuff 'bout boplicity's parents, on to the recipient of the merchandise. This person is obviously in need of money (if he had money he would not have to steal it, or get someone to steal it). Since this is a necklace, this would also open the possibility of him stealing it for a potential girl/boyfriend. Now, society is such that we like to show our affection through material goods, preferably material goods that can effectively be shown to others, so that others might admire the wealth and beauty of it. Beutiful things are expensive, and rare things are expensive. Combine both things and you have jewelry. This makes this case somewhat unique, as jewelry is commonly used as a token of affection, and historically used as a symbol of wealth. Now this symbol of affection is given from one party to another to show the devotion of the first part to the other. If the first person has the affection for the other, the first might see the purchase of such an object as an obligation. However, in order for this to be done, the first part must have money. Without the funding to aquire such an object of devotion, there are three possibilies (assuming the object must be aquired soon): making the object, stealing the object, or not getting the object. If that person feels the obligation is strong enough that it must be done, the last part can be thrown out. Unless the person is particularly skilled in the creative arts and has the material necessary, the first part can be ignored. Now, this leaves the person only one choice. However this choice has drawbacks, as mentioned before, and if the person is so willing to go through with it in order to prove his/her devotion to his/her counterpart, that it outweighs the potential reprimands, this devotion should be enough to convince the other part that this action is indeed unnecessary and superfluous. However, the only way humans can express this is by action, and by taking the risk, the results will no matter what be negative. If you tell the counterpart it is stolen, he/she will not accept the gesture as it was intended, and if the consequences catch up to you, you risk losing it all. This is a genuine flaw of the human race, when expression of emotion through verbal means is no longer good enough, and one must turn to acts harmful to others in order to bring joy to the person you love.

As always, i need to cut it short, but remember this.

Love is all you need, and that must be a mutually understandable statement. Emotions are the most powerful things we have, they shape our lives daily, be it through hate, anger, embarassment (hehe), love, or devotion. Without emotion, there is only indifference.
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Old 3rd May 2002, 16:05   #13
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I keep it simple:
I dont steal anything, no matter how small
If I find money on the ground with no evidence as to who the owner is, I keep it
If I find a wallet, I return it with all the money intact
If I get too much money from the teller, or a cashier, i give it back if I notice it.
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Old 3rd May 2002, 17:10   #14
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You say no to your friend,because deep inside you know that it is wrong to steal.

You have a good soul. May god bless you.

I am just a normal person sitting on the bench and reading newspaper and having a cup of coffee. Why can't people see that?
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Old 3rd May 2002, 17:34   #15
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This reminds me of the time I was walking down the road and wished out loud that I'd find a $100 dollar bill. I did find it a block down but it was monopoly money. I should have been carefull what I wished for.

On the same 'note' I was at a rental store the other night returning some movies. I passed a couple on my way in who were chatting happily on their way out. On my way back out, I spotted a $20 on the ground. I knew it had to belong to the couple I passed but I kept it. Why? because I was broke. The couple seemd very well dressed and were driving a 2002 bronco or something. I could tell they were better off than I. If it had been a $100 dollar bill, I would have returned it. A $100 is alot of money for anyone to lose. But a $20? Still alot of money for some people. I think it was worth more to me than the couple who didn't pay enough attention to keep ahold of it.

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Old 3rd May 2002, 18:05   #16
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Re Philosopher

Quote:
I did not take it for personal gain when I could have attempted to find the owner, yet i did not pick it up and safeguard it until i found the owner. This, my dear friends, is indifference at work. If you're not a part of the solution, and not a part of the problem, you're just not a part of the situation. And if you're not a part of the situation, there might as well not be one.

Ah, but you are a part of the situation. As soon as you spotted the money you were involved, whether you like it or not. You now have the option of being a part of the problem or the solution. Your inaction is an action because it determines the fate of the money. I find it absurd that anyone could just walk by and leave this amount on the ground. I mean you could return it to the owner, keep it, or give it to a charity. I hope this attitude of "indifference" doesn`t extend to the situation of seeing someone hurt or dying on the street.

Evil prevails when good men do nothing !


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Old 3rd May 2002, 18:54   #17
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Quote:
Originally posted by MrMagick
This reminds me of the time I was walking down the road and wished out loud that I'd find a $100 dollar bill. I did find it a block down but it was monopoly money. I should have been carefull what I wished for.
Yeah, that's like the time I wished I owned Microsoft, and then I woke up as Bill Gates. Arg, the horror!


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Old 4th May 2002, 02:14   #18
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Screw right and wrong. When you say thou shalt not kill, what do you do when soldiers of a neighbouring country invade yours? When you say honor thy father and mother, what do you do when they sexually and physically abuse you?

Don't do what is "right", do what the situation demands.
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Old 4th May 2002, 02:25   #19
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Originally posted by Curi0us_George
I'll return money if I see someone drop it. I will not, however, take money to an information desk if I find it. That's just assinine as far as I'm concerned. If I give the hundred dollars back to the man who dropped it, I've made his day a little better, maybe a whole lot better if that's a large part of his paycheck. If I find a hundred dollars in the middle of the mall, then taking it to the help desk isn't likely to help anyone. I won't have the hundred dollars, and the person who dropped it isn't likely to waste his time going to the help des. Most likely, it'll end up in the pocket of the help desk attendent. Screw that. I could use a hundred dollars.
damn right!!!
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Old 4th May 2002, 04:02   #20
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Quote:
Originally posted by rm'
Screw right and wrong. When you say thou shalt not kill, what do you do when soldiers of a neighbouring country invade yours? When you say honor thy father and mother, what do you do when they sexually and physically abuse you?

Don't do what is "right", do what the situation demands.
RM's got a point there though.....

I am just a normal person sitting on the bench and reading newspaper and having a cup of coffee. Why can't people see that?
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Old 4th May 2002, 06:23   #21
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Re: Kenny D.

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Originally posted by Kenny D.



Ah, but you are a part of the situation. As soon as you spotted the money you were involved, whether you like it or not. You now have the option of being a part of the problem or the solution. Your inaction is an action because it determines the fate of the money. I find it absurd that anyone could just walk by and leave this amount on the ground. I mean you could return it to the owner, keep it, or give it to a charity. I hope this attitude of "indifference" doesn`t extend to the situation of seeing someone hurt or dying on the street.

Evil prevails when good men do nothing !

Well, just to be very clear on this, just in case i wasn't clear enough in my original post, any action you take will have an outcome. It is your choice if the outcome is negative or positive. I would never choose a path that would see the negative outweigh the positive. If both choices present equal risks, I would leave the situation for someone else to asess, due to the fact that situations can and will change. This holds basically true for this specific case and a specific turn of events. In the case of a person lying on the street, it is ones obligation to help, since the consequences of not helping could mean the difference between life and death, at the very least a worsening of the situation. No person can honestly say that whatever they are doing can weigh against the life or health of another person. The same goes if you pass a rape. You are obligated to call attention to what is going on, draw as many people to the area as possible unless you believe that you alone are capable of thwarting the perpetrator. Each situation we come across needs a different course of action. Sometimes indifference is the best way, but usually not. In the case of the bill on the ground, it would be.
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Old 4th May 2002, 07:55   #22
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Re Philosopher

I respect your opinion but if everyone was indifferent to it, it would end up being swept in the trash. A waste when it could help someone. Of course we all know this wouldn`t happen in a million years.




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Old 4th May 2002, 08:26   #23
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Old 4th May 2002, 11:31   #24
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If everything is permitted can we PLEASE just kill all the whales... i mean seriously people... just a couple more and were done with them.
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Old 4th May 2002, 14:56   #25
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*Mizter_E slaps Xerxes around with a rather heavy whale*

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Old 4th May 2002, 17:25   #26
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Quote:
Originally posted by Xerxes
If everything is permitted can we PLEASE just kill all the whales... i mean seriously people... just a couple more and were done with them.
That is EVIL!!!!

I am just a normal person sitting on the bench and reading newspaper and having a cup of coffee. Why can't people see that?
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Old 4th May 2002, 17:27   #27
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Quote:
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If everything is permitted can we PLEASE just kill all the whales... i mean seriously people... just a couple more and were done with them.
LMAO
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Old 5th May 2002, 16:12   #28
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Quote:
Originally posted by rm'
Screw right and wrong. When you say thou shalt not kill, what do you do when soldiers of a neighbouring country invade yours? When you say honor thy father and mother, what do you do when they sexually and physically abuse you?

Don't do what is "right", do what the situation demands.
I agree with you that at times situations do cause people to perform acts which are normally "wrong", but in those circumstances those actions are the right thing to do. Yes, sometimes it is right to kill, or steal. But generally speaking, killing is wrong.

And sometimes a situation does not demand any particular action at all. Take my example for instance, but let me change it just a little- If you were walking down a hallway and a person drops his $100 bill, and the rest of the hallway is empty, besides you two. Would you return the money? Although it's completely your choice, there is a definite right and wrong. To live in a world where people cannot decipher right from wrong would be horrible. It would be absolute anarchy.

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Old 5th May 2002, 17:28   #29
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But generally speaking, killing is wrong... Would you return the money? Although it's completely your choice, there is a definite right and wrong.
Why?
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Old 5th May 2002, 17:34   #30
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BECAUSE!!!
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Old 6th May 2002, 11:33   #31
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Screw right and wrong. When you say thou shalt not kill, what do you do when soldiers of a neighbouring country invade yours? When you say honor thy father and mother, what do you do when they sexually and physically abuse you?

Don't do what is "right", do what the situation demands.
that's my definition of right and wrong... wrongs can (in my mind) be justified in certain situations. you're thinking of religious right and religious wrong, which are far more rigid subjects.

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Old 6th May 2002, 11:43   #32
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That is EVIL!!!!
/xerxes twirls spindly mustache and adjust monocle
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Old 6th May 2002, 12:49   #33
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Why?
Because we are civilized creatures. We aren't apes. Most of us have the intelligence to know right from wrong.

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Originally spewed forth by Xerxes If everything is permitted can we PLEASE just kill all the whales... i mean seriously people... just a couple more and were done with them.
And after that, on to the baby seals!!!!
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Old 6th May 2002, 13:26   #34
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mayebe a coincident?

I head this weird dream last night. (you know the one that's interupted by the stupid alarmclock)
I was walking through a street towards the railway station to get to my work (normally I use the car). At a point I pass a thelephonebooth(?). I look inside and I see a bag. Nosy as I am I go in and check whats in the bag. In there are some grosery's, a wallet and a Mini-disk player. So I look in the wallet to see if I find some ID, but none could be found. So I pick up the bag, start walking and notice that the shop where the bag is from is right around the corner. So I enter the shop and ask for some major dude and i give it to him incase the owner comes to ask for it.
Then i see in the corner of my eye's two young man who start declaring me nuts for returning the bag. So I start shoutng at them that they should learn to have selfrespect, norms and value's (dunno if this makes sence). and after a while I manage to make one of them see that its better for yourself if you are honest about those things. And then my alarm went.

don't be a thief of your own life.... : DEXYD - Digitally EXpressing Your Dreams

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Old 6th May 2002, 16:59   #35
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We aren't apes.
That doesn't make it wrong to kill. The Norse killed left, right, and center, and they were civilized (sorta ).
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Old 6th May 2002, 17:02   #36
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That doesn't make it wrong to kill. The Norse killed left, right, and center, and they were civilized (sorta ).
Better example: both the Mayans and Aztecs were practitioners of human sacrifices. Neither were evil people. They just valued human life differently. It's just that rather than say, "don't kill, unless it's necessary", I'd say, "kill, but only if it's necessary". When you say "don't", you get into a lot of problems.

edit: dammit... meant to hit "edit" instead of "quote"
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Old 6th May 2002, 21:51   #37
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Why?
For lack of a better reason, because I said so...

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Old 6th May 2002, 21:58   #38
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Which brings us back to your original question. Do we not kill because of God's universal moral code, or because of some selfish Hobbesian desire to be not killed in return?
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Old 6th May 2002, 22:03   #39
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I don't kill because I feel that human life has value. We are cognitive beings, we can (or rather we should be able to) decide what is civilized behavior and what is barbaric.

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Old 6th May 2002, 22:11   #40
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On what basis do you assign the value of life? Why is a child more important than a woman more important than an axe murderer? If you lived in an overpopulated society in which axe murdering was seen as a noble and courageous act, and childbirth a horrible unspeakable shame, wouldn't your own values change? That's why there is no wrong or right. Only best for the situation, or unsuitable to the situation.
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