What would you do? Morality question - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 23 Old 05-03-2014, 05:03 PM - Thread Starter
 
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We were at a major drug store today to get photos developed and I was looking at this frame that was on sale for 5$ and my toddler started acting up and I got all distracted then I finally remembered about the frame and took a qucik look for it and couldn't find it so finished our shopping and left. When we got home I found it buried in the stroller. When I found it I felt bad and told husband that we have to take it back but he didnt think it was a big deal since its only $5 and more importantly it's a huge corporation so the only ppl we'd be screwing would beat be remotely some shareholders as loss is anticipated and built into price. What would you do? Is it wrong to keep the frame? Hiw wrong? Is it the same as stealing? Does it make a difference that returning it would be quite inconvenient since I'd have to go during the week alone with a 2 month old and a 2 year old?
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#2 of 23 Old 05-03-2014, 06:00 PM
 
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I would call the store and explain what happened, and see if I could just pay for it over the phone.

But, yes, I would feel obligated to return it or pay for it.
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#3 of 23 Old 05-03-2014, 06:05 PM
 
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I would do the same as FisherFamily suggested, explaining what happened. I'm sure the store manager would appreciate your integrity.

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#4 of 23 Old 05-03-2014, 08:08 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I'm going to return it tomorrow, as it happens we have to go right by the store.

Does this mean right and wrong isnt about the consequences?
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#5 of 23 Old 05-03-2014, 08:32 PM
 
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I agree that the right thing to do is either return or pay for it. I'm glad you're able to take it back without too much inconvenience.

I'm trying to think of a scenario in which something is right or wrong but there are no consequences. I can't at the moment, too tired. However, in this case, there are consequences. You're husband just doesn't feel obligated to those who will experience them. One could also argue that everyone who paid for one of the frames experienced the consequences. If, as you say, the price of theft is built into the cost, everyone who paid for them at the higher price is paying the cost of theft.

I, personally, don't consider the genuinely inadvertent removal that you described theft (regardless of whether it is in law or not. I'm talking about the spirit of the action here.) But it's still a mistake and I would feel obligated to correct the mistake if it was within my power to do so. It is the principle rather than the monetary value which is fairly arbitrary and individually variable isn't it? I wonder at what price your husband would feel obligated to return an item? I'm not picking on him BTW, I think your differing views raise some very interesting questions.

ETA - for me it would also be about setting an example to my kids. Many little kids shoplift. Often before they have any concept of ownership and paying for things. Usually one hears of parents returning the item and apologising (with or without the child) and it's usually pretty low value items - a lolly or small toy or something - but we return it anyway to teach them the lesson that taking what doesn't belong to is is wrong. Not to teach them that taking expensive stuff is wrong :-)

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#6 of 23 Old 05-03-2014, 09:06 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Interesting.

What if uou pretend there arent any consequences? Do you think it would still be wrong?

For me personally I think keeping the frame would be wrong regardless of the consequences.
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#7 of 23 Old 05-03-2014, 09:06 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Also agree about the importance of setting an example
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#8 of 23 Old 05-04-2014, 02:17 AM
 
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Originally Posted by Viola P View Post

Interesting.

What if uou pretend there arent any consequences? Do you think it would still be wrong?

For me personally I think keeping the frame would be wrong regardless of the consequences.

In our society as it exists with our structure of ownership and buying and selling I agree with you.

I was trying to think, just as an intellectual exercise whether taking things would be wrong if there were no consequences. Would we have the societal concept of theft, and even ownership, if there were no consequences to people just taking things as they needed/wanted them. It's actually quite hard to conceptualise I think. It's such an ingrained way of being. There are the issues of compensation for work undertaken as well as different ideas about needs versus wants, not to mention attachment to certain items and the differing values people place on different things. It's an extremely complex structure.
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#9 of 23 Old 05-04-2014, 11:21 AM
 
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Food for thought - doing the right thing is often inconvenient. That doesn't make it any less right. 

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#10 of 23 Old 05-04-2014, 11:25 AM - Thread Starter
 
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@katelove - I think even I we accept there's a social structure we can ask whether its possible for something to be immoral if there are no consequences. By pretending that there aren't any consequences for keeping the frame we can ponder the more interesting question of whether morality is independent of the consequences. To me it seemed like either you were suggesting that something can't be immoral without some kind of society or social contract or the suggestion is that there are always consequences.

@kitchensqueen - agreed!
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#11 of 23 Old 05-04-2014, 02:37 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I returned the frame
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#12 of 23 Old 05-05-2014, 06:02 AM
 
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I would return it, or at least pay for it if you want to keep it, but it could probably wait until you go back to the store next (not a special inconvenient trip).

 

Edited: I'm sorry, I didn't see until I was done posting that you returned it. Good for you :)

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#13 of 23 Old 05-05-2014, 09:55 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Yeah I knew I had to return it but thought the moral issues were interesting as there aren't any "real" consequences. Interesting discussion!
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#14 of 23 Old 05-05-2014, 11:10 AM
 
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Originally Posted by katelove View Post


In our society as it exists with our structure of ownership and buying and selling I agree with you.

I was trying to think, just as an intellectual exercise whether taking things would be wrong if there were no consequences. Would we have the societal concept of theft, and even ownership, if there were no consequences to people just taking things as they needed/wanted them. It's actually quite hard to conceptualise I think. It's such an ingrained way of being. There are the issues of compensation for work undertaken as well as different ideas about needs versus wants, not to mention attachment to certain items and the differing values people place on different things. It's an extremely complex structure.

 

(I'm in the U.S. if that helps with the context of my remarks.)

 

A small offshoot of that is a half-joking remark I made to DH just the other day when we were talking about theft.  I said something about even if what someone stole from me was something I didn't want any more and was about to get rid of, it was still theft.  Your very thought-provoking post has me going back to consider the assumptions and framework behind that.

 

I definitely believe actions are right or wrong even if there aren't consequences to me.  My guideline is whether anyone is harmed by my actions.  Even stockholders, though I despise our economic system which puts their (OK, full disclosure, our) needs ahead of other public goods.  But maybe the staff would suffer in some way, depending on how inventory losses are tracked; things like that are what would have me returning an item.

 

My short answer, by the way, is that no, it wouldn't be the same as stealing . . . unless you kept it after realizing you'd come home with it by mistake.

 

I have never clicked on "helpful post" so much in such rapid succession.  This is a great thread!

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#15 of 23 Old 05-05-2014, 04:56 PM
 
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We were at a major drug store today to get photos developed and I was looking at this frame that was on sale for 5$ and my toddler started acting up and I got all distracted then I finally remembered about the frame and took a qucik look for it and couldn't find it so finished our shopping and left. When we got home I found it buried in the stroller. When I found it I felt bad and told husband that we have to take it back but he didnt think it was a big deal since its only $5 and more importantly it's a huge corporation so the only ppl we'd be screwing would beat be remotely some shareholders as loss is anticipated and built into price. What would you do? Is it wrong to keep the frame? Hiw wrong? Is it the same as stealing? Does it make a difference that returning it would be quite inconvenient since I'd have to go during the week alone with a 2 month old and a 2 year old?

 

First, there is something in retail called "loss."  Loss is when something isn't accounted for and it goes missing.  Thanks to inventory, everything in the store is tracked and counted.  If your loss is high, you don't get raises...so it's not some faceless corporation that gets hurt, they don't feel a thing.  The people who work there directly feel the impact.  Please pass that on to your husband. 

 

That said, accidents happen.  When my daughter was a toddler and we'd go shopping with my mom, Mom would hand dd things to keep her occupied. I'd find them when I got home and unloaded the car.  You can pay for a lot of things by phone or on the next trip.  You won't be the first person, I promise ;-)

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#16 of 23 Old 05-07-2014, 02:00 AM
 
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@katelove - I think even I we accept there's a social structure we can ask whether its possible for something to be immoral if there are no consequences. By pretending that there aren't any consequences for keeping the frame we can ponder the more interesting question of whether morality is independent of the consequences. To me it seemed like either you were suggesting that something can't be immoral without some kind of society or social contract or the suggestion is that there are always consequences.

@kitchensqueen - agreed!

Well, that is why we have allocated things right and wrong, because of the consequences, or potential consequences, for ourselves or others. If we lived in an alternate universe in which consequences didn't exist then right or wrong probably wouldn't exist either. So yes, I do think morality exists because we have a framework of actions and consequences. Without that, there would be no need for morality.

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#17 of 23 Old 05-07-2014, 12:28 PM
 
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Just take it back at the next opportunity. My toddler was playing with a little bottle of vitamins, and at home i found it was still in my stroller. So i just left it there and returned it next time.

 

I once found a jar of coconut butter in my stroller. I had already bought a jar, but sometimes  dd likes to copy me, and put another jar in my stroller. I didnt feel guilty about not returning that. If you intend to steal, thats one thing, but when accidents happen, with a  low priced  item from a multimillion dollar corporation, come on. Its not worth worrying about. Return it if you want to. If you  took something by accident from a friend, thats a different matter, or perhaps a small struggling store....

 

Its takes alot of effort to keep up with a toddler, and we moms do the best we can. It  also really depends on whether you have the time...

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#18 of 23 Old 05-07-2014, 12:30 PM
 
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Something is right or wrong in principle. But it depends on how much time you have to prove you are right regardless of consequences great or small, and at what cost.

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#19 of 23 Old 05-08-2014, 04:59 PM
 
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The question is simple. You have something that doesn't belong to you. You need to pay for it or return it. It is not a question of "shareholders." 

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#20 of 23 Old 05-08-2014, 09:19 PM - Thread Starter
 
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^^ I tend to agree, to me it's not really about the consequences it's more that it's just wrong
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#21 of 23 Old 05-09-2014, 07:08 AM
 
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Of course its wrong. But what if you lived in a different state, and would not be going back to that store, how much effort would you put into returning a $5 item that toddler put in your stroller? Now how wrong is it not to return this item? 

If you are going back to the store the next day, then its simple, just return it then.

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#22 of 23 Old 05-09-2014, 04:52 PM
 
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It's easy enough these days to do an over-the-phone or online transaction.

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#23 of 23 Old 05-09-2014, 08:51 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Of course its wrong. But what if you lived in a different state, and would not be going back to that store, how much effort would you put into returning a $5 item that toddler put in your stroller? Now how wrong is it not to return this item? 
If you are going back to the store the next day, then its simple, just return it then.

Totally agree, convenience is definitely a factor. I would not be willing to drive several hours to return a 5$ item!
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