May 2008

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Robert P

Keep it for yourself. And if you want to see a for-the -greater-good-dilemma movie watch "Flight of the Phoenix (1965)."


Not everything is absolute.

However, accountability is paramount. To quote ol' Spidey:
"With great power comes great responsibility."

The butler was put in a situation of power, being the only person who knew of the jewel's existence. To decide what he does with that power is his right, however, he is responsible for the consequences thereof. What are his options? He could leave it as it is. Or keep it for himself as a trinket to decorate his underwear drawer. Or he could sell it and keep the proceeds in a vault, or buy a space shuttle and stack it with babes and ice cream (spot the reference)...or, he could decide to use the proceeds to feed that starving African village for a year. Maybe even invest the money, so he can keep feeding that African village with the interest. In anycase, what he does is up to him, and he alone is accountable, whether he would go to jail for theft, or die with the knowledge that there was a million-dollar jewel in the billionaire's closet (oh ok i guess its a billion-dollar jewel then).

But remember, what he does does not necessarily make him the model by which everybody must base his/her own actions. This is called by some academics as 'situational ethics' or some such. The point is, in this scenario, the butler thought it was good to use the jewel for good, defining good as that people would benefit from it. That doesn't mean that the butler will now change careers from servant to larcenist. And it doesn't also mean that what he did would be right in the eyes of the law or society.

Question is: what would you do, and can you handle the consequences?

plaur uhexv

jgvkco pylbzfa bmiz mseywg rbafj umyzodi xrvbwlf


This is coming from a 15 year old kid. Stealing in this case, is taking advantage of a dead man. Damn all your moral arguments. It's wrong.


This is coming from a 15 year old kid. Stealing in this case, is taking advantage of a dead man. Damn all your moral arguments. It's wrong.


Obviously I want to say yes, the jewel should feed the African village (although not literally, unless it's a very large and exceptionally nutritious jewel). But these sort of actions would lead to a sort of degredation of society...John Locke (who is, granted, not the be all and end all, but a very smart man) had it right when he said Life, Liberty, and Property...if we start blurring lines of what each person is entitled to then society becomes a sort of free for all, and ultimately disintegrates into something non-functional. What we have right now isn't working, and people are still starving and dying while we try to get it right, but you have to keep the greater good of preserving society in mind.


It's as simple as this: the jewel is of more benefit to the African village than the pompous, rich family.


you're still on about the copyright laws, right?

As a songwriter, I know where you're coming from.

Jonathan Siebert

If he takes the jewels, he's assuming that he is more intelligent and well-meaning than the people who will benefit from the estate (Which is probably true), but it's not really his place to make that call. In a society with laws people who decide that the law doesn't cover them are referred to as anarchists :P


This has been covered by some of the greatest philosophers of all time.
Look up the philosophy of Ethics, Im just an ameture but this sounds like a case of: utilitarianism v moral absolutism.
scott, why do you always start from the beginning, if you read up on philosophy, like ethics and metaphysics...
this question is so old, and its been asked so many times before by so many of the greatest minds, read what they have to say, instead of trolls and posters!


I say, if you are willing to pay it back in "Karma" (which would be pretty severe) GO FOR IT!! I Prolly would.....but then I could afford to "pay" it back anyway!!!!


Well, given that it is victimless in sense that one will ever know or notice the difference, there is also option of steal it and keep it for myself. If the African villiage you mentioned was that bad off your plan would just prolong their suffering and they would just die a year later anyway. Between making my own life much better or helping total strangers I care nothing about, easy choice.
(Does this count as most heartless post here, didn't read the others as too many, and like I care about their opinions)


regarding free will
free will is seen as something predetertimined
then so creativity would be the anthithesis to free will
cretaivity is random and occurs independt of rational tought
what then is creativity
if creativity is proven would that mean free will is not real
or is creativity simply a disease
if creativity is real why cant supposedly creative people created something new to what they have created
for example george orwell , tolkien just about every rock band
maybe it is a disease
would you consider those autustic to have creativity it would be assumed it simply a mutation would you not
however add could be said to be said to be a creativity disease
then again leonardo da vinci had add so does this simply mean he has creativity masquerading as disease
if the most creative man who has ever lived has his creativity borne out of a mental disorder wouldnt this prove creativity simplt doesnt exist? and scott adams is a psychotic he just wont admit it


Personally the guy is dead, he doesn't need the jewel anymore. The butler should be free to take the thing since it now belongs to a corpse.
Damn your "Morality" issues, they are based on personal opinions whether or not thousands of others agree they are still personal opinions and my opinion is no worse than yours...if you think I am wrong on this get your head out of the bible and into some factual books.

Give the butler some jewels


The government does it all the time.

John  Keitz

You have just described estate taxes, and they are immoral no matter how good it makes you feel to steal from the "less worthy" and give to the "more worthy." What if the famil were to sell the estate and invest in biomedical research? No, you (not you Scott, but the hypothetical "you") know better what to do with the funds!

Doug Clinton

Even a butler has far more wealth than the average African villager. If he is so concerned with the greater good he should start by giving his own posessions to the cause and then put all his efforts into campaignng for a real change in society which would provide far more benefit than the transient doling out of someone else's money.


That's what we need ... millions of people doing what they consider the 'greater' good even if it involves doing a crime. What a wonderful and safe world that would be.

Robert Wallace

That is a classic utilitarian dilemma. Do the ends justify the means? Unfortunately, due to the nature of utilitarianism, it has no place in a discussion of morality...since morality prohibits certain activities--i.e. stealing-- regardless of the result. I suppose you could be a utilitarian, and feed the African Village, but the law of unintended consequences kicks in pretty quickly when you start playing fast and loose with that kind of morality (or absence thereof). The bigger question... can you justify the stealing absent the result? If you can, you can start to discuss the moral imperative of the original taking.

Eric D

Stealing is stealing regardless of your rationale or purpose.

Gustaf Sjöblom

My philosophical 2 cents is that the greater good is actually potentially more greatly harmed by setting a precedent for theft.



Question: If the Butler was willed the stone would he still give it to the village? :-)


While not really liking your language of "moral obligation", I'll go so far as to say it would be from a philosophical perspective a morally good thing to do.

Practically it would probably unleash a whole change of ramifications that would completely disrupt our current society and way of thinking, and while it would probably lead to a better one I probably wouldn't have the energy to deal with all the complications and would just not steal the jewels.

And I'm a little worried about all the people saying "What? It's never moral to break a law!" That's placing a whole lot of trust in legislators and completely ignoring the ninety-nine percent of law codes throughout history that to us now seem obviously immoral.


What Would Journey Do? = WWJD


Now that I've given that some *real* meaning, its also handy to know those religious WWJD freaks use WWJD for passwords a *LOT*

... oops! is it time to change your password?

How about it doesn't matter for Windows, cuz there is something called ophcrack that can recover it in about 5 minutes (a tad longer for slower computers)

Yeah billionaires = thieves ... they've figured out how to sneak slavery back in, with the added improvement (for them) that the brainwashed masses are now willing.


Everything I write is copyrighted. My blog, my diary, my class notes. Same for each of us (US citizens, at least). Every time I publish my work, I run the risk of someone plagiarizing it or otherwise violating my copyright. And yet, I accept that risk, and publish it anyways. If copyright doesn't protect me in practice, why should it protect anyone else? Why should only the people with money be protected by this law, when it is written as a universal law?

Copyright infringement is a risk of doing business. Yes, it sucks that the eBook was created before you and your publishers could do it; is it that surprising, with your target audience being geeks, who most likely have both the appropriate equipment and knowledge for doing that? It should have been planned for, and you should have released the eBook at the same time, or before, the printed book. At the very least, you should have realized the printed book won't be sold everywhere in the world, so certainly there'd be a market for it. Yes, it sucks that Singer X's last album went only Gold instead of Platinum because of copyright infringement; it should be a calculated cost of doing business. If more than a few measly percent of the album sales went to the artist, perhaps more of the public would be persuaded by the "what about the artists!" argument.

I recently downloaded through iTunes store a few episodes from my favorite TV show; did you know I have less rights with those files than I would if I'd pirated them? I paid my hard-earned money for what is freely available over the airwaves so that I could have the convenience of having those shows right that moment, and now I can't even play them as much as I'd like, or even in my preferred player.

RIAA and MPAA's thugs are going after dead people and people who've never owned computers, all the time, in their bid to scare the public into blind submission.

I'm deliberately not answering whether copyright infringement and plaigarism are right or wrong. Haven't decided that yet. But I do know the current system is not working; no one is happy with it right now, and it needs to be changed. The public feels strong-armed; the artists feel violated; the studios and labels feel poorer than they think they should. Catching and prosecuting grandmothers and working stiffs, and getting large fines out of them, only incites more contempt for the thugs that are the MPAA and RIAA; it does nothing to help the artist feel less violated. So, perhaps instead of debates over the rightness or wrongness of filesharing, perhaps we should funnel our energy into a better system, one with which more people would be happy.

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