As an example, say we take the unknowns out of the equation. You have some magic crystal ball that will tell you every possible outcome of every possible decision you make. And it reveals to you that one of your loved ones is ill with an extremely rare sickness that requires the most expensive medical care to treat or else they will soon die. Meanwhile, it also reveals that robbing a bank will guarantee success, no one will be injured, you will get away scot-free, the costs imposed on people will have minimal impact on their lives, and this is the only way you can get the money required in time to save the loved one from certain death. Now, what is moral and immoral when all these unknowns are taken out of the picture?
As another one, say a beggar in an alleyway catches you and begs for money. You have plenty to spare. Yet the magic ball reveals to you that approaching him will result in him beating you over the head with a club and stealing everything you have. Now, what is the most moral thing to do given this new information and with the unknowns taken out of the equation?These are exaggerated scenarios with some magical device, but my point is that morality mostly takes on its meaning based on what you know and don't know. The environment you are in also influences what you know and I'd argue that it influences what should be considered right and wrong.
Even if you are religious and your values informed by religion and goals ultimately about best serving God, that still leaves a lot of unknowns in the mix about the consequences of your decisions. Say this magic ball reveals that an attempt to rescue someone from drowning will guarantee that both of you to drown. It will simply claim two lives instead of one. This is guaranteed: 0% chance of success and a 100% chance of failure. Now, what is most moral? Right and wrong action change substantially based on what you know and don't.
Can I give you a specific scenario?
A person cannot get hired for a good job in the US. They did everything right but are not given a chance. College educated, no criminal history, etc. But employers don't care. They were born in the wrong place but are too poor to move. They have a line of $50,000 credit. They could max out their credit and sell their possessions for an extra $15,000. They also have income that creditors cannot touch. The person believes their best option is to max out their credit, sell what they have, and then move overseas. They can live and work abroad permanently. If they decide to come back to the US, they haven't lost anything because their credit score doesn't matter because when it was good it never helped them get a job anyway and creditors cannot garnish anything under 30 times the minimum wage in the US. So the person has almost no consequences. Should they max out $50,000 and default on the credit companies? The Federal Reserve and Government always bails out the banks, mega-corps, and give everything to the rich while poverty grows and opportunity disappears. Why not take it and start a new life overseas where the money and income can grow and accomplish more?
I could see an argument for that. I could see some risk factors not accounted for that might absolutely ruin your life, but if you've genuinely exhausted all the options and at a dead-end, I could see an argument at least to contemplate this possibility. It reminds me somewhat of the analogy of the poor person faced with the scenario of themselves and their families starving or theft from a nearby food stand. In the sufficiently desperate circumstances, I no longer see that as "unethical". It might be a matter of semantics. Some people might say it's immoral but forgivable/understandable.I think some degree of empathy often reinforces our notions of morality, so it becomes easier to justify these things if they don't serve an entirely selfish purpose... like doing such a thing to support a family, or to make something of yourself so that you can or better contribute to society.
Yes, I have no other options left to me at this point in my life. $50,000 will make all the difference to me and allow me to start new, and create a new life in Europe by slowly building myself up, going for a new degree, I will be able to own a flat or a home in Europe, and start a family. It's not only money that is hurting me, I also have no friends because everyone is too busy or don't need more. Most things in life people cannot do alone. I am alone because I have no support, no one to give me a chance, and my luck has been terrible. Right now, my only option left is to sacrifice my credit score in the US and do something unethical, after watching the system and society be unethical and cruel, that I cannot just try to remain ethical in the face of such unethical behavior and that it is immortal for me or any other person to be left in poverty, not given a chance to succeed.
That's a tricky one. I'm afraid I can't suggest what to do. I think it depends on a gazillion things like the risk factors, how it will sit with your conscience, etc. I think morality is an extremely complicated subject for any sufficiently deep and critical thinker. I would not try to reconcile it so much though with what other people do. I'd evaluate it against your values, conscience, risk vs. reward, what you know, what you don't know. From my standpoint, even eating junk food is immoral because it negatively impacts my health in the long run, and that will impose some costs on myself and other people. It might be small and negligible enough to just be considered a vice, but I see it like that. Even using this site: I could be using my time more productively. So I see room for some immorality even with the things I cannot reconcile as being moral. And sometimes there's a careful balance between short-term gratification and long-term interest.In any case, it's good to think about these things and reflect upon them.
I contemplated it for a long time like I do everything in life. I think about all the possible things that could happen and try to find the best outcome to victory like in a game of chess. I feel that sometimes bad things must be done for good reasons. I wouldn't have guilt or regret for what I would do because I harm no one. If anything, I can correcting an injustice done to me by society, claiming a fraction of the wealth I should have now if society were fair, and in truth providing others with income because I would be spending the $50,000 on pure gold since gold is money. I get gold to cash out my credit, the businesses get the cash, and they then pay workers. So I essentially reward myself and help to stimulate the economy. I believe no one should suffer when it is possible for everyone to live in comfort. There is nothing that could be done to me if I were to execute my plan. I have no home, no bank accounts they could seize, no income they can garnish, no assets they could take away. There's virtually no risk for great reward. My credit score will be ruined, but that doesn't matter. I will never be able to afford property in the United States, life is too expensive in the United States relative to the minimum wage jobs most people get including college educated people. There is no doubt in my mind that I need to move overseas for a better future.
I think fairness is actually often a counter-productive thing to dwell on since it's too difficult to define outside of a context with the clearest rules and the most objective criteria, like a race to the finish line where the first person to reach it is the winner. Most areas in life aren't this simple to navigate and are subject to a whole lot more human bias. We can't really say what people deserve or don't in their lives without omnipotent knowledge. Of course, society often needs laws and some means of enforcing them, but I don't see the point of that as to enforce fairness so much as to help protect the rights of citizens from being forcefully infringed upon.I would try to discard the idea of fairness in many cases when trying to decide what is moral let alone optimal. Focus on how to make your life and the life of those you care about better. Ask not what is the fairest solution but the one that might yield the greatest improvements.
I think it is less about conforming but getting what a person is due. If a person lives in a land where a bunch of thieves rule it, forcing everyone else to give them almost everything and they loot the entire land of its wealth, and then everyone else is poor, wouldn't it make sense to begin looting the same land to get what you need and then after looting all you can get, just move to another land? It's not conforming. It's doing what all the thieving elites and corrupt rulers are doing on a smaller scale, then leaving to let that corrupt land eventually fail from its own corruption.
Hiding money from thieves is not unethical. But doing wrong (cheating on taxes, not putting in enough hours at work, stealing from corporations) because some of those in the system are corrupt makes a person as corrupt as they are. It's not worth it to sink to their level.
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