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Re: [Phys-l] OT: Reflecting on Ethics (was A geek's ... "Avatar")

At 08:45 -0600 01/05/2010, Rauber, Joel wrote:

Does the same logic apply to the wearing of provocative clothing and sexual crimes?

To some extent, probably yes. But just as with the shoplifting issue, being stupid, or insensitive to the possible inclinations of others does not excuse the perpetrator of the crime. Wearing provocative clothing is not (at least in this part of the world) a crime, but a sexual assault, even on someone provocatively dressed, or even someone working in the sex industry, is still a crime, irrespective of the vulnerability or willfulness of the victim in her choice of attire.

If the manager and all the employees of a bank left the building, leaving the vault open and the cash unattended would be incredibly stupid, and probably would result in all of them being sacked even if nothing came of their misfeasance, but they would have committed no crime. But if, while they were away, someone came in and cleaned out the bank's cash, they would have committed a serious bank robbery and probably would spend a reasonable period of time in stoney lonesome for their efforts (bank robbery being one of the least successful crimes, along with kidnapping, in the US), again, irrespective of how easy the bank personnel made for the thieves to do their thing.

I also pretty much agree with BC that property ownership, especially land is problematic. Most land doubles in use as habitat for animals, and we are increasingly destroying that habitat, creating one of the leading causes of species becoming endangered or disappearing altogether. Leaving out the animal situation, our society (and I suspect much of the world today) is designed around somebody owning every square inch of land--if not people or corporations, then the government. But that hasn't been true forever. Early societies used the land either communally or temporarily before moving on. No thought was given to "ownership." So ownership had to start somewhere, and hence the ownership went to whoever got there first or whoever had the most weapons, or however much you could successfully defend, or some combination thereof. By the time things settled down, most of it was owned by a few people, usually the kings, who then doled out "ownership" to favored subjects, usually to ensure their loyalty. Any natives who has used that land communally prior to the arrival of the king or his minions were cut off from access to the land, because it now "belonged" to somebody else.

I'm guilty of buying into this scheme, just like most everyone else. I've owned property for most of the past 50 years, and grew up in homes owned by my parents. Of course, if we didn't own our own, we would live in someplace owned by somebody else. Whenever I purchase a home, I have to have a title search made. It never seems to go back to the natives who first occupied the land, only to some arbitrary cutoff (like a homestead date, or something like that). Anyone whose ancestors might have held a prior claim tot he land is simply out of luck.

I wouldn't object to finding some more equitable way to handle the land we occupy, but I cannot figure one out. If I refused to purchase land on principle, then I'm just shifting the problem one level up--to the landlord, who then owns the property. This isn't a solution. If the land is held communally, how would it be distributed for use and who would control that and mediate disputes? Governments aren't going to be very good at that since they would then assume ownership, and we'd then occupy the land at the pleasure of the government--we're right back where we started from.

So I guess I'm stuck with the system we have, and need just be thankful that I'm not related to the original occupiers of the land I now occupy.

Hugh Haskell

So-called "global warming" is just a secret ploy by wacko tree-huggers to make America energy independent, clean our air and water, improve the fuel efficiency of our vehicles, kick-start 21st-century industries, and make our cities safer. Don't let them get away with it!!

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