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Anirudh Silai

Ethics and Nature

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Hey everyone,

Here's an interesting thought to consider:

http://aynrandlexicon.com/ayn-rand-ideas/the-objectivist-ethics.html - Here Rand says, "if some men attempt to survive by means of brute force or fraud, by looting, robbing, cheating or enslaving the men who produce, it still remains true that their survival is made possible only by their victims, only by the men who choose to think and to produce the goods which they, the looters, are seizing...The men who attempt to survive, not by means of reason, but by means of force, are attempting to survive by the method of animals...Such looters may achieve their goals for the range of a moment, at the price of destruction: the destruction of their victims and their own." - By destruction, she means physical and psychological (with regard to self-esteem).

But what about criminals who get away with it successfully?

Consider that man must act with reason in order to survive. Consider a thief who reasons that the risk of getting caught is very low, even that the likelihood of his victim even reporting the crime is low. Finally consider that criminals, on average, even those who are caught, have higher-than-average self-esteem, according to the APA.

Or, as an insignificant example, consider that once, when I was little, I was feeling hungry and I easily snagged a couple of potato chips from a friend.

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4 hours ago, Anirudh Silai said:

... once, when I was little, I was feeling hungry and I easily snagged a couple of potato chips from a friend.

Has that convinced you to take up a life of crime? If not, why not? And, further, does this mean "steal when you can" is a good principle for everyone to adopt? 

"Honey, have you seen my wallet? Joe and I were just talking philosophy and I was saying that crime is a good thing. Then, I wanted to pay for Pizza and I couldn't find my wallet."

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I wouldn't lead a life of crime because I respect others. Some people do not. But most people reject such a principle. Even if encouraged, few would adopt such a principle. Most (but not all; not 100%) would agree with me that stealing is wrong. Some would assume, albeit incorrectly, that they'd surely risk detection - despite the plethora of unreported and unsolved crimes. Many people are averse to even the slightest risks. Some wouldn't be able to live with themselves. But there are people who asses the risk, find it to be small, and can indeed live with themselves, and comfortably. I am certainly not saying that one ought to steal sometimes or that one ought to lead a life of crime.  I am only saying that some acts of theft are entirely compatible with the self-interest of the thief.

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Anirudh Silai,

Do you think that people who do not respect others are selves worthy of self-interest? Would such a self be under a delusion that it had worth in such treatment of others?

I’ve posted a longer and non-interrogatory reply to your post over at OL this morning before I saw you posed the question here. You might like to find that over there. My user name there is not my own name, but Guyau, due to a bump in the program update. You and I are perhaps on the same page in opposition to ethical egoism (not to be confused with the virtue of wrongly maligned selfishness), but in the questions I raise here, I’m trying to turn up the ethical egoist case to a further level.

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My reading of Ayn Rand's statement is that regardless of intelligence, looters only survive to the degree that there remain producers to loot.  Therefore the ultimate destruction of the looters who don't get caught is one of exhausting their resource for survival.  So whatever momentary success a looter enjoys, his means of survival is self-destructive if practiced consistently.

Spock: "To hunt a species to extinction is not logical." ~ Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home

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You can't really "live" off of theft, because it's a fairly unprofitable activity - most thieves only steal during a passing phase in adolescence. It is also a misdemeanor, so law enforcement has little incentive to spend significant resources investigating it. If you commit a more serious crime like murder, rape, or burglary, it will be harder to avoid detection.

There is a principle in forensics called Locard's Principle, which says that there is physical evidence of every crime. The criminal will always leave something at the crime scene, like a footprint or bit of hair, and they will always take something from the crime scene. Every criminal thinks they won't get caught, but it only takes one fingerprint to put you away for life.

Edited by William O

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