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When is it o.k to steal?

This section closely links to the property section. Property is all about who is legally entitled to what. Once this is determined then possessing property without permission of the owner is wrong and considered theft.

But 'Good' people steal all the time, why?

Lets look at some kinds of stealing.
  1. You beat someone up and take their money
  2. You pickpocket someone
  3. You con a pensioner to give you a lot of their money
  4. You steal a packet of chips from a shop
  5. You steal off a thief who tried to steal off you.
  6. You take benefits from the government that you 
  7. You keep a bank error in your favour
  8. You find a wallet on the ground
  9. You copy a song or book illegally
Some of these you will recoil at, and others you will admit to yourself that you have done.

Some of the attributes of stealing from the above are:
  • Empathy - is any one person put into a state of suffering? 
  • Non-excluability - an economics term if you take it, does someone else miss out?  e.g  copying a digital song does not stop anyone else from enjoying that signs.
  • Culpability - if a bank makes an error in your favour, you haven't done anything to cause this. Its just luck.

Some of the justification are
  • The piling up effect - the amount stolen over all the victims means no victim is materially affected.
  • I paid into the fund/system I am entitled to take it/some out.
  • Tangibility - Copying a digital song is intangible, its virtual, not real