Thursday, September 11, 2008

On Moral Absolutes and the Axiology of UPB: A Reply to Jad

I want to thank Jad for taking the time to respond so thoughtfully! Anyone reading this post should check out his earlier post, to which this is a response. And Jad, I wish you the best of luck with your new blog! I have a few things to say about Jad's response, and hopefully we can work towards clearing up some of the confusion we've been trying to slog through together.

I first wanted to discuss the idea that theft is not, by definition, always wrong, contrary to what Jad suggested in his comments. In moral philosophy we draw a distinction between things that are wrong and things that are prima facie wrong (or "wrong at first glace"). Basically the application of the idea is this: As we've already discussed, the concept of theft comes from a moral framework which recognizes that people can have a moral claim to certain property holdings. Within this framework, to steal something is, by the nature of the system we're considering, prima facie wrong: that is, it's wrong at first glance. To put that another way, a system which recognizes rights to property is, I think necessarily, built on the idea that it's wrong to steal capriciously, or under circumstances which could be thought of as more or less "normal."

But a number of perspectives on property rights stop short of saying that it's never permissible to steal. For example (and this example is undoubtedly a complete bastardization of medical fact; I'm sure it couldn't actually happen this way), let's say you felt chest pains while walking down the street, and knew (somehow) that you were starting to have a heart attack. You happened to be passing by the open window of a house where some aspirin was sitting on the table, but no one was home. Now, let's say (probably falsely--I don't know) that if you took the aspirin, it would increase your chances of surviving the heart attack significantly. Would it be wrong to steal it? I don't think that the answer is clearly yes, or that by saying no we would be denying any form of property rights. We would just need to say that property rights aren't absolute like that; they don't tell us what we always must do or must refrain from doing.

If we accept the moral legitimacy of property rights of some form, then we would say that you're normally prohibited from stealing; to do so would be prima facie wrong. But in some circumstances, like where your life is in danger, the normal rules might not apply. That's not necessarily because the rules are bad ones, but rather because the rules were never meant to apply in all situations and contexts.

That's a big part of ethics that Stefan seems to completely ignore, and I noted it as my second objection to his book. He seems to believe that ethical rules need to be rigid and absolute in order to be legitimate. But not only does this not need to be the case; it's generally acknowledged to not be the case. I think that most people, including those in the philosophical community, don't think that you should be obligated to let yourself die in order to avoid taking someone else's asprin. So it seems like we would want to be skeptical of a system which would tell us that property rights commit us to saying that it would be wrong to do that, or otherwise that we must accept the position that it would be morally obligatory to constantly go around looking for aspirin to steal. But that's precisely the sort of thing Stefan needs to say in order to make his system work, and look at all the trouble he had trying to twist himself into plausible positions on "lifeboat scenarios." The reality is: rigid and absolute rules don't usually work, and when they do, it's because they've defined themselves in circles.

But your other question, which I think is important, is how we can decide what kinds of circumstances are morally significant, and which ones are simply irrelevant to determining what would be right or wrong. You suggest that the mere fact that someone has an FBI badge shouldn't matter in determining what's right and wrong in a certain scenario, and I don't want to dispute that outright (though there are important reasons why that might be problematic, and we can discuss those later if you want to). What I do want to point out is that you've now moved into the realm of axiology (that is, the study of value, or more specifically for our purposes, the study of what kinds of things have moral weight and why). Once we enter into this area of thinking, consensus among philosophers breaks down extremely quickly, and so I'm not particularly eager to critique Stefan's views through an axiological alternative of my own (of course, we can discuss my own views on the grounding principles of ethics later if you want). But I will note that Stefan doesn't actually provide a rigorous axiology in his book (this was my final objection in the other post), except to say that we should come to an understanding of ethical principles through the scientific method.

That brings us to Jad's final line of questioning, which concerns whether the scientific method is useful in determining what moral code is the correct one. Jad writes:
...is it not reasonable to begin with a system isomorphic to the scientific method? I find it appealing on every level (I know that's not relevant to its validity). The amount of human suffering that is let pass by ethical systems which weigh intangible concepts (usually concepts that favor the powerful and the aggressive) is staggering. Is it only coincidental that an ethical framework grounded in reason and evidence favors instead voluntary relationships and non-aggression? Is it coincidental that civil society, as a matter of course, follows the single maxim of a framework so grounded? Is it coincidence that the only violators are those that interact with strangers by killing or threatening to imprison/kill them?

But there's a problem with this line of reasoning that I think Jad picked up on a little bit when he noted that "...the validity of the statement isn't determined by the appeal of the outcome." The problem can be understood in two parts: First, there is no such thing as "The scientific method." Science is done through testing hypotheses, through clarifying the meanings of concepts and exploring their entailments, through abstracting from data sets, and probably through a number of other means I'm leaving out. With each approach to science, there is undoubtedly a different idea of what it would mean to try to learn about morality through the scientific method, and evaluating the possibilities available through each method would require that we at least specify which one we're talking about. So simply saying that morality might be aided by the scientific method doesn't mean anything. You need to point to a kind of scientific inquiry you're hoping to use, and look for some way that it could be used to learn about morality.

But the second problem with the line of reasoning is that you need to figure out what sort of thing you're looking for in reality which would lead you to some conclusion about morality. Jad is absolutely right to point out that the examples he cited are outcomes, but further, they're not outcomes of morality, as such, but rather of individuals performing certain actions. So in order to learn anything about morality, he'd need to postulate some connection between morality and real world events which is not already clearly defined.

The idea he seems to be leaning on is that an acceptible moral framework should lead individuals to do things which will produce beneficial outcomes. This idea is not new to moral philosophy, and is most closely tied to utilitarian and consequentialist schools of thought. But it need not be solely those schools which can lay claim to those notions. Most moral philosophers these days acknowledge that there must be some place for consequences in our evaluation of a moral theory; if a moral theory leads to horrible social outcomes, that might very well be seen as evidence for rejecting it, or at least for accepting an alternative view with equal plausibility (see, for example, Schmidtz in Elements of Justice). So if consequences are a factor by which we judge moral theories, and we can predict what consequences we will likely observe if we follow this moral theory or the other one, then we can compare them somehow and perhaps move towards a better understanding of what our position ought to end up being. In that sense, various approaches to science might prove very useful.

But Stefan cuts himself off from this avenue of reasoning when he seems to repeatedly argue that consequences don't have anything to do with what's right. Perhaps things that are right happen to produce good consequences, but part of his position seems to be that if this were not the case, it wouldn't matter in determining the correct moral framework. So hence my confusion about Stefan's invocation of the scientific method as the sole hint to his axiology. Most of the evidence I would expect someone to use in favor of their theory won't work for Stefan, because he's thrown it out. He can't appeal to what people generally think or what consequences would be produced through acceptance of his view. And he's seemingly ruled out the idea that morality is a social or psychological phenomenon by attempting to prove a realist ethics. So I guess I'm just not sure what he wants science to tell us.

Hopefully some of that is helpful. As always, keep the questions coming!

24 comments:

Jad said...

Hey, I put up a couple posts w/ plans for a couple more. Thanks for the discussion.

Alrenous said...

I don't see how it isn't wrong to take the aspirin.

However, the suffer should do it anyway.

Later, he should go to the owner, apologize, and make amends. I think any reasonable person would forgive.

None of this makes it not-wrong.

Danny Shahar said...

When you say "apologize," do you mean "express regret that such a lamentable state of affairs had to take place," or "express a feeling of self-condemnation, and ask for forgiveness"? It seems to me that the sufferer should definitely do the first one, but would have no reason to do the second one. There would be nothing to condemn oneself for in such a situation. And if that's true, then it wouldn't be wrong to take the asprin, just regrettable. That is, the problem with the taking of the asprin is that the loss of the asprin was bad, not that it was unjust.

Alrenous said...

I was unaware we were talking about justice.

Rather, we were talking about morality, in which case I have to argue that it is in all times and in all places wrong to steal, but that doesn't necessarily mean you should not do it in all times nor all places.

Regrettable, yes, and I see that not offering amends speaks to a sense of entitlement to the possessions of others.

There would be nothing to condemn oneself for in such a situation. And if that's true, then it wouldn't be wrong to take the asprin, just regrettable.

So in your theory of ethics, wrong stems from self-condemnation? (Perhaps even all condemnation.) It seems backwards to me - we condemn those actions that are wrong, not the other way around.

So, I hypothesize that you misspoke.


Incidentally, to pretend this is on topic.

My own view of UPB is that it's a very complicated re-statement of the definition of morality or ethics.

UPB isn't in itself an ethical theory, but rather a criterion for ethical theories. The problem is that the criterion is 'can everyone follow it?'

That is, when a theory declares something to be wrong, then it must be something everyone can avoid doing.

But morals are defined as universally true statements of normative behaviour. UPB adds exactly nothing to the discussion.

And perhaps a full theory would be more complicated than 'stealing is wrong' but be more like 'stealing under these conditions is wrong, and these other conditions, not so much.' But ultimately, if it is true that something is wrong, it is always true that it is wrong.

Danny Shahar said...

When you say "wrong," what do you mean? If you think that someone could act wrongly, but should not be condemned for it, then the concept of "wrongness" would have no content.

Does "wrongness" mean "indicative of poor moral character"? Someone with good moral character would surely take the aspirin in good conscience. Does it mean "in violation of a duty towards another or towards oneself"? But surely we would not say that the individual had a duty to die instead of take the aspirin. Does it mean "contrary to the rules of conduct which underpin social order"? But by this standard the act would not be wrong either. I could go on, but it doesn't seem like any plausible moral standard would lead us to find the aspirin taker's action to be wrong.

Alrenous said...

By wrong I mean contradicts moral prescriptions, whatever they may be. We seem to have agreed on property rights.

My own theory is an extension of property rights, specifically the fact of self-ownership. You have the right to control yourself and all your stuff, and anyone violating that control is wrong.

However, I think that the condemnation that naturally follows from committing a wrong can be mitigated by other factors.

Morality is not the be-all and end-all. When we consider the purpose of morality and the goals we are trying to achieve with it, then it follows (for me) that condemnation does not automatically follow from doing wrong.

(To be specific, in certain cases, forgiveness follows instead, because while it may have been morally wrong, neither party preferred the alternative.)

However, this does not flow in the other direction; that we have particular purposes and goals for morality does not affect in any way the assessment of morality.

We cannot say, "Yes, but morality is not for preventing the preservation of life. That's not what it's for." Well, that's fine. Wrong is still wrong, but sometimes we forgive wrongs to preserve lives. Its all about our purposes, goals, and preferences.

Similarly, except in very heavily epicycled moral theories, there are going to be situations where you have two choices: evil, and less evil. Clearly the plan here is to do the lesser evil and to forgive it.

(The beginning of the justification of my theory is the idea that hypocrisy is always wrong. If you yourself think it is wrong, you shouldn't do it.)

Danny Shahar said...

Well but now you're going in reverse: how can we make moral prescriptions without any idea of what makes something wrong? That's like saying "That's wrong because my list of things that are wrong says that it's wrong."

Perhaps this article will address your point.

Alrenous said...

The exact source of moral prescriptions is not material to my argument.

In any case, there are considerations other than morality. These considerations do not make wrong things into right things. Rather, they supersede morals in those special cases.

I think in these cases it is best to respect morality as much as you can.


The self (I'll use yours as an example) is defined as the thing in control of the entity I am communicating with.

Thus self-ownership is tautological. (Self-control, I should say, as ownership is not well defined, conventionally.)

Simply put, for anyone to control you, they must go through your command-and-control circuits. It is impossible to dislodge or bypass you. (With current tech.) But of course such technological/demonic possession would simply replace one self with another, not somehow make you, the entity I'm communicating with, controlled by a not-self.

It may be a coincidence that the self in control of your arm-keyboard system is the same that is in control of your vocal folds and also your wallet (and aspirin) but it is nevertheless the case.

Danny Shahar said...

Well look, if you're claiming that stealing is always wrong because it contradicts "moral prescriptions," and then you're claiming that it doesn't matter where these moral prescriptions come from, then I'm not really in a position where I can dispute your claims or even understand why you think what you do.

I deny that stealing always contradicts moral prescriptions. I have given three different ways of thinking about morality, and each one comes up with the result that I expect. So unless you give me some reason for believing that you're right about moral prescriptions, I'll simply have to reply with "Nuh uh!"

As for your point about self-ownership, I really encourage you to read the article I linked in my last comment. By the argument you just advanced, it almost seems like it would be impossible to violate one's self-ownership. So, then, it wouldn't do to try to establish any moral claim on such a foundation. It wouldn't really seem reasonable to claim that we "ought to" or "ought not to" do something which is impossible...

Alrenous said...

Well look, if you're claiming that stealing is always wrong because it contradicts "moral prescriptions," and then you're claiming that it doesn't matter where these moral prescriptions come from, then I'm not really in a position where I can dispute your claims or even understand why you think what you do.

Right, so I've made myself unclear. My apologies.

That stealing is wrong is an example. If you would rather I use something more difficult to work with, by all means choose something.

My argument should work regardless of the details of the wrong I examine.

I deny that stealing always contradicts moral prescriptions.

And I disagree. Since it doesn't matter, let's use something else.

I'm going to default to murder unless you have a suggestion.

As for your point about self-ownership, I really encourage you to read the article I linked in my last comment.

I did read it. I should have addressed it more specifically. Again, my apologies.

So I'll say two things. Tying me up and dragging me off violates my moral right, but limits rather than violates my self-ownership. Ropes don't magically give my captor control of my muscles and vocal folds. Rather they simply deny me my full freedom.

The article is using the term self-control in what I consider to
be a sloppy way, by not distinguishing between the internal chain of command and the effects of threats, intimidation, or ropes.

I consider only the former. The latter are incentives which you can choose to disregard, or physical limits which I've already gone over.

(Obviously your self-control - whatever it is - always has physical limits, and a few more do not make a categorical difference.)

So, then, it wouldn't do to try to establish any moral claim on such a foundation. It wouldn't really seem reasonable to claim that we "ought to" or "ought not to" do something which is impossible...

Yes, my argument gets very complicated compared to the result. It does avoid this issue, however.

Danny Shahar said...

The underlying point in all of this, though, is that you seem to be starting at the idea of having an absolute normative right to exclusive control to yourself and your property. But the only "argument" you've given in favor of this idea is the observation that we control our actions, and that our ability to control our bodies and property can be constrained by external influences. As my article points out (and you haven't disputed), one cannot move logically from this observation to the normative rights you describe. So again I ask, why do you think that this sort of right exists? And is the significance of the existence of such a right for what other people ought to do (or avoid doing)?

Alrenous said...

Your 'self' is defined as the thing in control of the entity I am communicating with.

It is a matter of empirical fact that there is only one self per human being. (MPD is actually a disorder, in other words.)

The control of this self over the various muscles used for controlling the external environment is absolute. That is, it cannot be superseded by anything. If I wish for your muscles to act in a particular way, my only recourse is to get you to make them so act.

(This is directly opposed to making them not act in certain ways, which I can achieve with ropes, or anaesthetics. Physics also prevents them from generating whole monkeys, so this is a difference of degree, not in kind.)

(Also, the non-voluntary systems, like the heart. They're not controlled by your self, but that doesn't mean they're controlled by some other self. They're basically controlled directly by physics.)

Also, all organisms require control of their environment. They need to take in materials and energy, excrete toxins, and deflect various threats. Interrupting this control tends to lead to death. This control is an extension of self-control.

So we can expect any organism to have not only self-control, since self is defined exactly as the thing which controls, but also to attempt to control their environment. Again by definition, the self can only control the self directly. All other control is indirect.

I want to control my environment. So do you. You're not different enough from me to justify putting my control above yours. (The properties I would use to justify my control, you share.)

In fact, we're basically identical. So, since I want my control, I have to also grant you your control.

To do otherwise is hypocrisy. And, regardless of what is objectively wrong, if I do something I myself think is wrong, that is an intentional wrong on my part.

Again, I think that if you abrogate my control, it's wrong. Ergo, if I abrogate yours, it's hypocrisy and automatically wrong.

So when somebody takes your aspirin, they're violating the axiom of self-ownership. They're using their self-ownership to oppose your self-ownership. You may decide to forgive them this, as they're doing it for a heart attack, but it doesn't make it not such a violation or not hypocrisy.


Incidentally, stuff starts out in an unowned state. Once it is secured, it becomes owned. That is, once I take an unowned object and secure it against incidental insults to whatever goal I want it for, it's mine. Since you also want to control and thus own things, you respect my ownership, and if you secure something against me, I respect it.

As long as the stuff is reasonably secured, the exact manner of the security is irrelevant.

Danny Shahar said...

Okay, so the critical step in your reasoning is not to point out that people control themselves, but rather this statement:

"I want to control my environment. So do you. You're not different enough from me to justify putting my control above yours. (The properties I would use to justify my control, you share.)

In fact, we're basically identical. So, since I want my control, I have to also grant you your control."

What you're saying here, I take it, is that because you accord moral significance to your desire to pursue your ends free of coercion from others, and because you recognize that others feel this way too, it would be morally unacceptable to coerce others. But by this same manner of thinking, you accord moral significance to your ability to preserve your life, and ought to recognize that others do the same. Most people would not think it to be unreasonable for someone to impose a small cost upon them in order to preserve a basic interest (like saving their own life), and so would not be hypocritical for them to coercively impose such a cost on other people. Therefore, by your standard, we have reason to believe that stealing might not always be wrong.

Alrenous said...

Damn.

Yes, basically.

Danny Shahar said...

Excellent; thanks for helping me clarify the point!

Alrenous said...

You're welcome.

Though it seems it was more the other way around, you helping me.

Danny Shahar said...

Mutual benefits from cooperation :-D!

Alrenous said...

Sorry, I'm obsessed with the truth. I want to know what you think of the following hypothetical.

Imagine the anti-christ exist, but a very special anti-christ. This one has the exact same message as the original christ; don't kill, don't steal, be nice in general. However, unlike the original, he not somewhat convincing, or very convincing, he is absolutely 100% convincing. It is physically impossible to argue with him and not to be convinced to be 100% moral for the rest of your life, in such a way that you absolutely never give into temptation.

He uses these magical persuasive skills to convince people to spread his message and let him convince everyone on Earth, dropping crime rates in every metropolis and every god-forsaken hole to zero. All wars cease. Trade flourishes, and everyone is just generally super-nice to everybody else.

The first downside is that he IS the anti-christ; he is infinitely...let us say criminal. Other than these life-altering arguments, he spends his time raping, torturing, killing. If you offer him money, he'll rip your arm off and beat you to death with it, and then steals the money from your children. Any repugnant act you can imagine, he is worse, and when you imagine that worse one, he one-downs you again. My practical estimate is that he manages to kill hundreds a day, except those days where's he's too busy torturing to get the full quota in.

The second downside is that anyone he doesn't personally convince, either directly or by proxy, will grow up to commit crimes as usual. His ability to persuade is either inherent or customized to each person, and the sooner he dies, the sooner a new crop of barbarians and criminals will grow up.

So, on net, deaths are way, way down. Crimes are way, way down. Even rudeness is way, way down; life is just generally much more pleasant. For all these crimes, there's only one man committing them, and he simply can't work hard enough to make up for all the people he convinced otherwise.

(Hah, I just realized this a rather more literal reading of 'taking your sins upon himself.')

Originally this was my proof that hypocrisy is not wrong per se. Now that I've proven that even if nothing else is, hypocrisy is wrong, I see it more as a proof that ad hominem is a fallacy.

But I want to know what you think. Is the anti-christ evil?

If you're utilitarian, the answer is easy; no. The anti-christ is, on balance, extremely good. If you're a surgeon and you can repair some injury he has, even if he will repay you with torture and death instead of money, it would be evil not to help him.

I have to say, yes, he is evil. He is exactly as I almost said above; he is infinitely evil. But we have to let him be anyway, because good and evil is not the be-all and end-all to determine what you should do, even if we are exlicitly talking about whether to do good or evil.

I think the best way to deal with someone like this is like a natural disaster. Avoid him if possible, but if you get caught, "That sucks. Better luck next time."


Some details; of course it would be impossible for one man to commit that much crime without quickly being caught. But this guy simply convinces his way out of jail each time. Similarly, he's going to quickly depopulate his immediate environment. Either he convinces new people to move in, or he uses his stolen loot to move frequently.

So being caught, word spreads. Hearing about these atrocities, people start avoiding him, making it difficult to spread the message, but he just persuades someone to act as a go-between, and he gets a lot of TV air time. Similarly, he's smart about killing only people he doesn't need. He's not going to get on a bus and randomly slaughter the driver. So despite his...handicap...he lives a relatively normal life.

I would not talk so glibly about this if someone like this actually existed.

There is also the sticky issue of getting to decide who lives and who dies. If you don't kill the anti-christ when you have the chance, are you responsible for the deaths of the people he murders? If you do kill him, are you responsible instead for the deaths of the people who wouldn't have otherwise died? How much does it suck to be faced with only those options? That, I think, is a very hard question and I don't want to get into it here.

Come to think, I DO want to get into it though, so perhaps I'll put it up on my own blog.

Alrenous said...

Another practical consideration;

Usually people take hypocrisy as a point against any argument, and so it's that much easier to convince themselves or others to ignore it. This anti-Christ overcomes this obstacle by simply overpowering it.

Danny Shahar said...

Haha that's an interesting puzzle you present there. I think there are a few different ways to approach thinking about it. You could ask, is the anti-Christ doing anything wrong? The answer is clearly yes; the benefits he produces for some do not mitigate the harm he inflicts on others, as they are separate people. You also seem to broach the question of whether we should celebrate or condemn the anti-Christ. I think the answer is surely that we should condemn him; he is, after all, torturing and killing people. Perhaps the most difficult question you pose is whether it would be prudent to try to put a stop to his behavior. Again, I think that the answer is yes, but the question reveals the complexity of trying to come up with the appropriate goals of social policy: what is it that "society" should be trying to achieve that would lead us to say something like "We should stop this guy"? Pretty much any way you cut it (short of the most vulgar utilitarianism, perhaps), it seems like you would arrive at the answer that the anti-Christ should be stopped. At least that's what I think...

Alrenous said...

This anti-Christ condemns anyone who takes actions like his, so I think that one is pretty well covered.

What I'm trying to get at is thus;

One person gets a aspirin bottle taken without permission, as a result someone else lives.

One person gets murdered, but as a result a war ends and many people get to live.

I don't see the essential difference between these scenarios. They seem differences in degree, not in kind. (The words "I don't see" are code for "maybe you can explain.")

All this is to say that;

The answer is clearly yes; the benefits he produces for some do not mitigate the harm he inflicts on others, as they are separate people.

seems to contradict the idea that the benefits of stealing the aspirin do not mitigate the harm he inflicts on legitimate possessor of that aspirin....even though that harm is in general negligible, it is not zero, and his not-dying cannot mitigate it, unless he offers restitution.

Again, I think that the answer is yes, but the question reveals the complexity of trying to come up with the appropriate goals of social policy: what is it that "society" should be trying to achieve that would lead us to say something like "We should stop this guy"?

This is where the anti-Christ is hypothetical. In world scenarios is it never impossible to save people AND stop the bad guy. Sometimes it may be prohibitively difficult, but never impossible. The anti-Christ is like an actual working human sacrifice to the gods to stop a natural disaster.

On the other hand he is a lot like war; so-called just wars are undertaken as a sort of national-level police action. They result in a lot of good people dying for the punishment of one bad person. Hopefully of course this saves more people than it kills...just like the anti-Christ.

(As an anarchist my opinion is very different; first that this 'hopefully' clause is never satisfied, especially once taxation harm is taken into account. If you're under an evil dictator, just stop supporting them. They can't arrest everyone. Otherwise, it's no one's business but your own.)

This is going to be a bit borked since I know you're libertarian and probably sceptical about the justness of the World Wars, but just assuming that they were what they appeared to be, isn't it better to have gotten Hitler to kill himself?

(Hmmm...even the anti-Christ kills Hitler. What an unpopular guy!)

Despite all this, I'm interested in your idea that no moral theory would condemn the aspirin thief. It appears to be true, which means you're definitely on to some kind of super-moral principle or rule.

Danny Shahar said...

I really hate to do this to you, but I have to ask that you check out my paper, "Respecting the Rich Victim: Boundary Crossings and Critical Opportunities," to use as a starting point for this conversation. I just know that if I wait until I have the time and inclination to actually write out the entire train of thought, I'll never get around to answering your question. So if it's not too much to get through, check out the paper. I recognize that there are some problems with the argument I present in it, and I don't mean to cite it as gospel. But it does introduce both sides of the issue, and starts to get towards my view on how the conflict between individual inviolability and the apparent need to make exceptions can be resolved. Let me know what you think!

Alrenous said...

Since you know that is it rather a lot of work for me, I respect your desire to A: not repeat what I can find elsewhere and B: not expand this comment section beyond any reasonable size.

So, will do.

macus poker blog said...

I would not consider taking someone's apsirin to save your life as "stealing". As long as you intend to and actually do pay it back later.

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