Stealing-morality question

Reply Thu 23 Jan, 2014 09:53 am
I am writing a case study for an ethics class. Can you tell me how you feel about the crime of stealing where there is not a victim. I have given an example of someone that stole from a religious organization and did not get caught.
There are 2 questions:
1. Do you think they should be punished, or pay restitution?
2. Do you think they crime will weigh heavily enough that it will be a punishment to carry the knowledge that they have sinned against a higher power.

Thank you for your kind responses.
Reply Thu 23 Jan, 2014 10:06 am
Your underlying premise is faulty. Stealing from a religious organization still means that there is a victim; it's the people who paid into the collection plate. They wanted their $$ to be going to alms or even to painting the church ceiling. They didn't intend for it to line some thief's pocket.

1. Of course they should be punished. This is the crime of theft. The law doesn't distinguish between victims' statuses, or even if the victim is human (you can be prosecuted for stealing from the state treasury or a corporation; under your premise, these would be victimless crimes, when they're clearly not).

2. I call nonsense. It doesn't matter that it's a so-called 'higher power'. And that is not punishment enough. We have laws. They apply, no matter who the victim is, or how sorry or guilty the criminal feels (albeit contrition or its lack often is a factor in sentencing. But it is not a factor in a finding of culpability).
0 Replies
Reply Thu 23 Jan, 2014 10:15 am
The fact that there is no "named" victim is irrelevant. Charity money might be intended for anonymous recipients. Both the donors and the intended potential recipients are "victims".
Stealing is crime...a social concept. Concepts of "higher power" and or "sin" are irrelevant to ethics unless you can make an argument that religion is the source of all morality.
Reply Thu 23 Jan, 2014 10:21 am
The two are not mutually exclusive, it could be that the person is tried and convicted and carries the guilt.

I understand you to agree that 1. yes for punishment and 2. no higher power?
Reply Thu 23 Jan, 2014 10:51 am
I don't get where if something is stolen there isn't a victim.

I don't believe there is such a thing as a victimless crime personally.
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Reply Thu 23 Jan, 2014 12:52 pm
I have no answer to your original question because like the previous poster I reject your premise of a "victimless crime". The more general ethical question of how society deals with offenders depends on particular circumstances (gravity of the crime, psychology of the offender, costs of punishment etc). Once you start evoking religion as a factor you are into the whole hornet's nest of "the existence of souls", "an eye for an eye" and Sharia amputation of "offending hands".
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Lustig Andrei
Reply Thu 23 Jan, 2014 06:22 pm
Totally agree with the previous posters. Stealing, by definition, can never be a 'victimless' crime inasmuch as one is stealing from someone, even if that someone is not immediately perceived as a 'person.' As for the 'higher power' aspect, it's irrelevant to question # 1.
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