The world of no good

wanna have a fun life, travel, and see different cultures.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Crime or something like it.

Just read an old article by a friend - (yes, this is the season for reading old stuff). Reminded me of a question that I wondered about as a kid -

why is stealing bad?
Well, tried thinking about it again. And again, i came to the same conclusion.

Let's see. the traditional answer - it is morally wrong. Let's go a little deeper into this. A thief, works hard, risks his life on his work and gets money. Why is it morally wrong, again? oh wait, simple! Cos it is deception! duh! So, is it ok if the thief warns the person he is stealing and then actually gets away with the theft? I don't see the deception anymore. I guess most would say no. But they dunno why anymore! Basically, their moral argument is no longer valid.

Practical answers are infact more satisfying. I can think of two. One, If X steals from Y, then Y loses his money for nothing. The key is 'nothing'. So, Y is unhappy cos he got a bad deal. Two, cos theft disturbs how society hopes to work in general - with order. This is, in my opinion, closer to the truth than those vague and psedo-religious claims of morality/ethics.

Now, it is easy to understand why theft is 'wrong' in our society. It is an unfair business practice - one that can cause considerable instability in the normal workings of society because there is no control over it. So, the society 'punishes' the 'wrong-doer'.

All this may seem elementary, but it is important that we realise the reasons for our actions. They are not based in any god-given right called morality, they are just base/crude displays of our survival instinct.

This brings us to the question that my friend, Ashwin, actually raised in that article of his. Does anyone deserve capital punishment? It is for each of us to answer for ourselves. It should match the answer to this: Is it ok to kill someone to protect ourselves (and our society) - especially if there are ways and means of avoiding it?

It logically relates to the question of economic feasibilty. Remember, it is not about ethics/morality anymore.

The logical (but heartless) question is: Can the above questions be answered based on principles of optimisation from mathematics (given that it is simple social economics/order at stake)?

Logic forces me to accept that for the proper functioning of society, what is not economically feasible should be avoided. So, if keeping those murders alive is really bad for us, then we should 'get rid of them'. However, conscience (perhaps, a set of brainwashed ideas of 'morality') urges me to consider otherwise.


Blogger pagala'k' said...

Does logic always work in something as complex as life?

I don't know but I would definitely be able to answer that question out of experience. I still consider myself too young :).

But, when you steal something that belongs to someone else the pain that you cause him/her is what you should think of rather than the morals.

11:01 PM  
Blogger karthik durvasula said...

i think my original question was tangential to yours. it is about why there should be 'pain' in the first place. we aren't pained when we pay for goods, are we? and the only sensible reason i can think of is, as i repeat, a purely economic one of 'no gain'.

second, i don't agree with your implication that age gives you the wisdom to answer such questions. Age gives you nothing except experiences. What you derive from them depends on rationality, not anything else. What you will face in life, is most probably, an iota of the (moral/intellectual) problems that the people world over face. So, as i see it, waiting for experience to teach you, isn't very helpful. Similar experiences can be collected by looking around instead of waiting around for them to happen to you. That way, as far as science is concerned, you will be able to collect a lot more info in far less time. So, i re-iterate, this is not a question of 'experience'.

last, substantiate 'complex as life'. From where i see it, it isn't that difficult. But, i definitely agree with your implication that it is a tricky issue (to separate right and wrong).

1:19 AM  
Blogger pagala'k' said...

I still stick to what I said :).

I feel the pain because I spent my hard earned money to buy whatever you stole from me. I could have bought it for someone I care about.We are not pained to pay for goods because it really feels nice to be the provider in your family and it really feels nice to stand on your own feet too. Why should one feel the pain to buy stuff?

8:45 AM  
Blogger karthik durvasula said...


1:16 PM  

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