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Is it immoral to keep getting refunds for books you've bought?

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In Objectivism, which is in contrast to libertarianism, morality is a broader concept where legality is one aspect of morality. The libertarian stance "if it doesn't violate rights, it's moral" is a perversion of the concept of morality. Can you define "morality"?

I am not familiar with Libertarian theory except that it often contemplates anarchism. The logic of your point is fallacious, though. It is an ad hominem. Can you define "logic?"

This is a purely legal transaction we are talking about. What grounds are there for the OP to morally offend the bookstore, other than the legal ones?

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I think this well-characterizes your misunderstanding of Objectivism. Objectivism is a philosophy, whereby one applies logic to knowledge of facts and reaches conclusions. But you seem to see Objectiv

Which is why companies don't go around advertising the fact that they're gaining value even when you buy a product and then return it 28 days later after slightly using it. They don't mind that people

I am not familiar with Libertarian theory except that it often contemplates anarchism. The logic of your point is fallacious, though. It is an ad hominem. Can you define "logic?"

This is a purely legal transaction we are talking about. What grounds are there for the OP to morally offend the bookstore, other than the legal ones?

Morality (from the Latin moralities "manner, character, proper behavior") is a sense of behavioral conduct that differentiates intentions, decisions, and actions between those that are good (or right) and bad (or wrong).

>Emphasis on intentions mine<

That wasn't ad hominem. He was simply pointing out that if you actually sit there and look at the defintion of "morality" you will see your error.

You are also incorrect about what "we" are talking about. The original post specified that the query was not about the legality of the matter but the morality of the matter.

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Morality (from the Latin moralities "manner, character, proper behavior") is a sense of behavioral conduct that differentiates intentions, decisions, and actions between those that are good (or right) and bad (or wrong).

>Emphasis on intentions mine<

That wasn't ad hominem. He was simply pointing out that if you actually sit there and look at the defintion of "morality" you will see your error.

You are also incorrect about what "we" are talking about. The original post specified that the query was not about the legality of the matter but the morality of the matter.

It will take a little more than I should stare at a word to disprove the ad hominem.

No matter what the OP said, if there is nothing but a legal transaction going on, the legal considerations determine the moral question. Actually, that's another ad hominem, once the issue has been brought up.

What are the grounds for judging the morality of this situation apart from the legality of the situation?

Mindy

p.s. You'll recall that Rand pointed out that one's thoughts aren't judged as moral or immoral, only our actions.

Edited by Mindy
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No matter what the OP said, if there is nothing but a legal transaction going on, the legal considerations determine the moral question.

You have that backwards.

You also seem to have missed my point that legally, intent matters.

p.s. You'll recall that Rand pointed out that one's thoughts aren't judged as moral or immoral, only our actions.

I think you should provide a citation for the exact quote please.

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You have that backwards.

No, if there are none but legal issues, then how the legal issues get settled is precisely how the morality is settled. Are your dropping context in order to argue that legality is a subset of morality?

You also seem to have missed my point that legally, intent matters.

Sometimes, in legal determinations, intent counts. But intent alone is never sufficient to constitute a crime.

I think you should provide a citation for the exact quote please.

Do you? Are you unfamiliar with this quote? Do you think it is material to our discussion?

Mindy

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Can you define "logic?"
Yes, I can. Logic is the art of non-contradictory identification. It's your turn: define morality. You take comfort in the fact that the OP violated no law in his immoral behavior, and you are puzzled at my implication that there can be any standard of moral evaluation other than legality. I am honestly stunned that you could believe that.

If you are interested in understanding the concept of morality better, I suggest Tara Smith's book Ayn Rand's Normative Ethics.

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You take comfort in the fact that the OP violated no law in his immoral behavior, and you are puzzled at my implication that there can be any standard of moral evaluation other than legality. I am honestly stunned that you could believe that.

First, it is agreed, then, that he did nothing legally wrong?

"No matter what the OP said, if there is nothing but a legal transaction going on, the legal considerations determine the moral question." I wrote that earlier today. I would like to better understand the moral dimensions of the purchase that exceed the legal ones, if you would be so kind. Do speak of the specific case at hand, however.

I understand that you are dropping context in speaking of "there can be any standard of moral evaluation other than legality." Do you really think people won't realize this discussion is about a very specific interaction? That I have spoken only about that situation? That some interactions are nothing beyond a legal interchange? (Here's a hint: instead of waxing on about my "taking comfort," "[being] puzzled," etc., speak to the issue at hand.)

If you are interested in understanding the concept of morality better, I suggest Tara Smith's book Ayn Rand's Normative Ethics.

I've never stooped to that tactic, myself, though many people do. It strikes me as a way to claim that one possesses the whole knowledge and wisdom of somebody else's work. For me, it is much more satisfying to say what needs saying.

What now needs saying is how, if this was just a legal transaction, and it was fully legal, did the OP commit a moral wrong?

Mindy

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The logic of your point is fallacious, though. It is an ad hominem.
I must also correct your misunderstanding of ad hominem. An ad hominem is a kind of argument (a fallacious one) which sets forth a logically unrelated flaw in the character of the opponent as evidence in opposition to his position. An information question, such as my asking if you know how to define morality, is just that: it is a question, and it is not an argument. Even the answer that you give, if you had been able to define morality, would not be evidence relevant to evaluating the immorality of the OP.
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I agree, and here's what needs saying. You lack sufficient grasp of the Objectivist ethics and show little enough ability to assimilate new concepts from Objectivism for it to be worth my while dealing with your responses any further.

n

Objectivism, which is in contrast to libertarianism, morality is a broader concept where legality is one aspect of morality. The libertarian stance "if it doesn't violate rights, it's moral" is a perversion of the concept of morality. Can you define "morality"?
DavidOdden, today.

Your argument here is that my position reminds you of a Libertarian one. That is the ad hominem.

It would be worth your while, I guarantee it, but I also understand your reluctance.

Mindy

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What now needs saying is how, if this was just a legal transaction, and it was fully legal, did the OP commit a moral wrong?

Mindy

To the extent that he was faking reality, yes he was.

He treated a financial transaction as a short-term 'loan', and a book shop as a lending library.

It's not the 'end of the world' kind of immorality, but just might have long term effects on his integrity, to say nothing of his self-esteem.

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No, if there are none but legal issues, then how the legal issues get settled is precisely how the morality is settled. Are your dropping context in order to argue that legality is a subset of morality?

You are saying that legality determines morality. That is false. Legality is a function of Government. What should and should not be legal are properly (in a rational Government) defined by morality, not the other way around.

Sometimes, in legal determinations, intent counts. But intent alone is never sufficient to constitute a crime.

Intent to _____ *is* a crime, on its own, and a person CAN be tried for it. I provided you with a citation proving just that. If you are not going to pay attention to the facts, however, there is no point in talking further.

Do you? Are you unfamiliar with this quote? Do you think it is material to our discussion?

YOU brought up the quote - therefore you must think it's relevant, and *I* think you have gotten it wrong, but I do not recall where such a quote occurs, if any. Since you brought it up, the burden to support your claim is on you, not me.

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First, it is agreed, then, that he did nothing legally wrong?

"No matter what the OP said, if there is nothing but a legal transaction going on, the legal considerations determine the moral question." I wrote that earlier today. I would like to better understand the moral dimensions of the purchase that exceed the legal ones, if you would be so kind. Do speak of the specific case at hand, however.

So if the law grants me permission to come to your house and rape you, and I do so, then what I do is moral because the law allows it?

Do you see, now, the flaw in your "logic"?

I understand that you are dropping context in speaking of "there can be any standard of moral evaluation other than legality." Do you really think people won't realize this discussion is about a very specific interaction? That I have spoken only about that situation? That some interactions are nothing beyond a legal interchange? (Here's a hint: instead of waxing on about my "taking comfort," "[being] puzzled," etc., speak to the issue at hand.)

NO interactions are nothing beyond a legal interchange. As rational beings, we need a code of ethics, called morality, to guide our behaviors. Morality drives (or should) our legal code, legal code does not (or should not) drive our morality.

I've never stooped to that tactic, myself, though many people do. It strikes me as a way to claim that one possesses the whole knowledge and wisdom of somebody else's work. For me, it is much more satisfying to say what needs saying.

Despite the relationship between what you say and reality, apparently.

What now needs saying is how, if this was just a legal transaction, and it was fully legal, did the OP commit a moral wrong?

If you spent more time reading what people write - both in this thread and in other works such as the one cited - then you would recognize that the question of how the moral wrong was committed has been answered multiple times already. You simply aren't paying attention - and I suspect willfully so.

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Your argument here is that my position reminds you of a Libertarian one. That is the ad hominem.

On this, DO, she has a point. You have a habit, when you think someone is wrong, not of correcting them, not of showing where the error occurs, but instead of simply attacking the style of argument with a label and stopping there. It's very provoking, but not very effective.

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Mindy:

Your position seems to be this- the purchase/sale of a book is a purely legal thing, and as such the legality or illegality of the question answers the question of its morality.

The fundamental problem with this can be seen with this example- I am a rich newspaperman. I aim to get maximum viewership, and buy out everyone who seems to oppose me on any question. I buy businesses so as to use them to manipulate other people in order to get my way. I never threaten anyone with force, but I happen to like the view of Cornelius Vanderbilt, who said "... the law is too slow. I'll ruin you." I do this to a number of my enemies, creating competing companies, running them at an enormous loss so as to force them out of business, then buy out their company for pennies on the dollar, so that I can lord it over them and thrill in their destruction, for it is a testament to how powerful I am. My name is Gail Wynand (approximately).

Do you see the issue? You can be immoral, even if you don't do anything illegal. Seeking to, in Wynand's case, have as much power over people as he possibly can, is immoral while not being illegal (as it doesn't serve his life, as it is a second-handed sort of life, while not violating anyone's rights). The question of the OP is if his action is immoral while not being illegal (it obviously isn't illegal).

There is no such thing as a purely legal thing. Every action has some legal component (involving property rights and the like) as well as a moral component (the rational self-interest of everyone involved). That is the flaw in your argument, and why the OP's question is not addressed by your line of argument.

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Mindy:

Your position seems to be this- the purchase/sale of a book is a purely legal thing, and as such the legality or illegality of the question answers the question of its morality.

Yes.

The fundamental problem with this can be seen with this example- I am a rich newspaperman. I aim to get maximum viewership, and buy out everyone who seems to oppose me on any question.... My name is Gail Wynand (approximately).

If you wish to argue that the OP is being immoral with regards to his own character, that is an interesting question, but not at all a given. However, that is patently not the question that has been so hotly disputed here. The arguments have said he was cheating the book-seller.

Do you see the issue? You can be immoral, even if you don't do anything illegal.

Show me where I intimated anything to the contrary. You have bought into DO, et. al.'s straw men. Don't tax me with having made them.

There is no such thing as a purely legal thing. Every action has some legal component (involving property rights and the like) as well as a moral component (the rational self-interest of everyone involved). That is the flaw in your argument, and why the OP's question is not addressed by your line of argument.

I can't imagine how you suggest such a thing. If I promise my friend I'll pick him up before 7 p.m., there is no legal aspect to whether I fulfill that promise or not! If I buy a newspaper from someone, the transaction is purely legal. If you can argue otherwise, not just assert it, I'd be happy to hear about it.

Mindy

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The issue is not whether someone is failing to pay for an intrinsic value, it is whether or not one has committed fraud. When a person has no intent of honoring a supposed agreement yet enters into the agreement, one has committed fraud. That is the case of the temporary book thief, and not the case of an employer who offers a wage lower than what the worker wants or even might obtain from another employer. Therefore, you have no valid analogy between employer and bookseller.

If the book store owner voluntarily decides to enact a policy whereby they make payment for the book optional, how is it fraud, or even acting in bad faith, to hold the book store owner to a situation to which he or she consented?

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If the book store owner voluntarily decides to enact a policy whereby they make payment for the book optional, how is it fraud, or even acting in bad faith, to hold the book store owner to a situation to which he or she consented?
Fraud is misrepresentation of a material fact regarding an exchange, in order to obtain consent. That's what fraud means. There is no bookstore in the real world where payment is optional.
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I can't imagine how you suggest such a thing. If I promise my friend I'll pick him up before 7 p.m., there is no legal aspect to whether I fulfill that promise or not! If I buy a newspaper from someone, the transaction is purely legal. If you can argue otherwise, not just assert it, I'd be happy to hear about it.

There are legal aspects, certainly. How will you get there? You must travel by land. Someone has property rights to the vehicle you use, and the land you go across. Does your friend own the property where he lives? If not (for example, he lives in an apartment building, or in his parents house, or with roommates), then you must be concerned with whether or not the person who does have control of the property will allow you onto their property. In getting there, did you infringe on anyone's rights, for example hitting a car on your way there, or shoving someone to the ground because they were walking too slow? Then you will have to be detained by police and punished for your infraction. The list can go on, but I think you can see that there most certainly are legal concerns to take into account when picking your friend up by 7 p.m.

One final one might be this- did you set forth some form of punishment for if you did not pick him up before 7? For example, did you say you would pay for his movie ticket? In that case, you would have created a verbal contract which (depending on how you worded the promise) might be enforceable. That's another possible legal matter which might enter into the case.

So, your example DOES have legal aspects to it, as does all action by a human in society, as men have rights to property, and all action employs property in some manner, and so you must be concerned with the property rights to the material you employ in any action you take. Conversely, there is no such thing as a purely legal thing, as all such things are actions by people, whose moral purpose is their rational self-interest, then all "purely legal things" also have moral components. Every action has both legal and moral components. Morality is contingent on a far larger set of things than legality, with moral actions being a subset of legal ones (as laws are concerned with rights, which are derived from the nature of man, whereas morality is derived from the nature of a specific man, and is therefore more restrictive). So any moral action is necessarily legal, but any legal action is not necessarily moral. We are in the latter case in this thread.

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There are legal aspects, certainly. How will you get there? You must travel by land. Someone has property rights to the vehicle you use, and the land you go across.

So, your example DOES have legal aspects to it, as does all action by a human in society, as men have rights to property, and all action employs property in some manner, and so you must be concerned with the property rights to the material you employ in any action you take. Conversely, there is no such thing as a purely legal thing, as all such things are actions by people, whose moral purpose is their rational self-interest, then all "purely legal things" also have moral components.

I would direct your attention to the issue of abstraction. When we talk about something in a given respect, other facets are ignored. The fact that I am female is not relevant to whether I am logical. An argument that says, you can't be logical without being a rational animal, and you can't be a rational animal without being of one or the other sex, so your sexual nature is relevant to your being logical, is badly lacking in focus. Without being able to speak of aspects of a thing, all we could ever say would be, "It exists."

There is no legal aspect to the promise to pick up a friend. You aren't allowed to add details to the scenario, and, on that basis, find a legal aspect. That means you can't suppose the promise was part of a contract, and thus picking up my friend was, indeed, legal or illegal as fulfilling or contravening that contract.

All action by a human in society does not have legal aspects. The quality of a piece of music I write is not, per se, a legal matter. What sort of ice-cream I snack on has no legal ramifications. The fact that I purchased it is immaterial to my choice of snack. This is a difficult point to convey, I hope this gets it across.

Further, the legal aspects of a thing and the (otherwise) moral aspects are not disjunct as you assume in your statements. Legality--proper legality, which is what we are assuming in this thread--is a subset of morality. What is legal is also moral, what is moral is not illegal. The point is whether the legal aspects of a given interaction exhaust the moral considerations. If all the moral issues embodied in a situation are also legal ones, the legal considerations settle the moral question.

It is absolutely necessary to be able to respond to a question as it is framed. If one does not address it in the proper abstract way, you are not on subject at all.

Mindy

Edited by Mindy
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Fraud is misrepresentation of a material fact regarding an exchange, in order to obtain consent. That's what fraud means. There is no bookstore in the real world where payment is optional.

As I understand his story, he did pay for the book.

Mindy

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