Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Is this set of actions moral?

  1. Jun 13, 2010 #1
    Freeloading on public transport to and from a homeless shelter where you volunteer for a few hours and stealing a chocolate bar from the shopping center on the way home for dinner/as a treat. If you stopped freeloading the transport and the chocolate bar you would stop volunteering because you have hardly any money.
    Last edited: Jun 13, 2010
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 13, 2010 #2
    Well, it is inapplicable on a larger scale.
  4. Jun 13, 2010 #3
    I wouldn't want everybody freeloading and stealing in exchange for charity work, so Kant's categorical imperitave would say "no."
  5. Jun 13, 2010 #4
    This is an odd question. I suppose the chocolate bar is somewhat dubious. But I don't know that "freeloading" off of public transportation is immoral in any way, seeing as how it's there as an alternative to driving. Are you stealing bus passes or something?
  6. Jun 13, 2010 #5


    User Avatar
    Homework Helper

    Since I believe the government should be paying us to use public transport as incentive to save on carbon emissions, you're instead accepting payment in the form of chocolate, so really the petty theft cancels out the generous act of caring for our environment and this means overall you're doing society a favour.
  7. Jun 13, 2010 #6
    you don't get to judge this as a set. each action has its own moral obligations.
  8. Jun 13, 2010 #7
    To put it another way; I invent a medicine that saves ten thousand people around the world. I then shoot a hobo. If I didn't get the frustration out by shooting the hobo, I would never have been able to make the medicine.

    Is this moral?
  9. Jun 13, 2010 #8


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Education Advisor

    1. You're still freeloading regardless of where you're going. It's not the crime of the century, but it is against the law. Transit prices are set by the public authorities and therefore represent the will of the collective - assuming you live in a democracy. By freeloading you are going against what everyone has collectively decided is proper and therefore I would argue is not morally acceptable.

    2. Stealing a chocolate bar is theft. I'm sure a single chocolate bar isn't going to make a dent in Hershey's annual gross sales, but loss due to theft in general is significant to small local businesses that are stuggling to make ends meet. Again, not morally acceptable.

    3. If you can't afford to volunteer in this respect under your present circumstances, why can't you find a different means of giving back to your community?
  10. Jun 13, 2010 #9
    If people like that weren't stealing candy, there wouldn't be homeless people who lost their jobs at the candy store because of too much shoplifting, so there wouldn't be a need for people to volunteer to help them.
  11. Jun 13, 2010 #10
    If you made this thread then you have doubts about what you're doing or what someone else is doing. You already know the answer.
  12. Jun 13, 2010 #11
    This seems to be bizarre, as if the "end justifies the means"
    Major problem with that. If the "means" had originally nothing to do with the "end" and it is fashioned as an "excuse" most rational people would see right through it.
  13. Jun 13, 2010 #12


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    When has anyone ever NEEDED a candy bar? You WANTED it, you didn't need it, getting to and from a homeless shelter or anywhere else had nothing to do with whether you did or didn't have that candy bar. Stealing a candy bar is stealing, period.

    Stealing from the public is also stealing, as in not paying your fare on public transportation. Public transportation is essentially a contract between the government and the taxpaying public who have agreed that in exchange for paying through their taxes, the remaining burden of cost would be shared by all who used it. Those who do not pay their share transfer that burden to others and when enough people do that, it raises the costs for everyone, making it so those who NEED to use public transportation, such as to get to work to support their family, or that homeless person who uses it to get to a job interview in the hopes of not being homeless some day, has a harder time affording it.

    If the cost of getting to and from a volunteer activity is too much for you to afford, then perhaps you should not be the one volunteering, lest you be the next one living in the homeless shelter adding to everyone's expenses in supporting you. You have other choices you could make that don't require stealing from other people.

    1) You could not volunteer and instead use that time to obtain a paying job so you can afford public transportation and a candy bar if you truly want one.

    2) You could volunteer someplace closer to home that does not require additional expense on your part to get there if the cost of transportation is the only thing that pushes you beyond what your income can support.

    3) You could still volunteer, but reduce your hours volunteering, and use the remaining time to get a job that will pay for the transportation to and from your volunteer work.

    4) You could seek employment at a not-for-profit organization that will enable you to work with those people who you feel are most in need while providing you with the meager means to support yourself as well.

    What is the point of doing volunteer work if in the process, you become the one in need of charity?
  14. Jun 13, 2010 #13
    check out 'the cost of war counter' : http://costofwar.com/


    Assuming you live in the US, do not steal the candy! but never ever consider freeloading on the public transit a sin or immoral. During the time I typed up this message, over $200,000 of US taxpayers money was spent on wars, so $2-3/ride of public transit is absolutely nothing and therefore places no financial burden or hardships on anyone.
  15. Jun 13, 2010 #14
  16. Jun 13, 2010 #15
    Why nonsense?
  17. Jun 13, 2010 #16
    As a rough guide to behavior, I fall back on Kant's categorical imperative. If you could, would you make it universal law that NOBODY pays their fare? If that happens, the busses might have to shut down due to lack of funding.

    It's also just an issue of fairness. How is it fair for you to get a free ride when everybody around you is paying? What makes you so special?
  18. Jun 13, 2010 #17
    Quite simply, you're stealing: from both the state (riding a bus is rather, meh to me), but worse from some persons shop.

    If you cant afford to Volunteer because of transportation and food - don't. Go get a job.
  19. Jun 13, 2010 #18
    I understand morality and fairness very well and made my point very clear in my first post. I'd recommend you watching that "cost of war counter" for a minute and you should come to think that...maybe the public transit should have been FREE in the first place, so we wouldn't have to call ANYBODY a freeloader or abuser! The paid public transit is the issue not the freeloading.
  20. Jun 14, 2010 #19
    Your posts in this thread amount to very little. This isn't about the cost of war. You made a thread about that, don't spread it here.
  21. Jun 14, 2010 #20
    I tried to focus on the fact that some people fail to see the big picture. That's all.
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook