Friends and Fans — I have retired from my work as a public intellectual, so Philosophy in Action is on indefinite hiatus. Please check out the voluminous archive of free podcasts, as well as the premium audio content still available for sale. My two books — Responsibility & Luck: A Defense of Praise and Blame and Explore Atlas Shrugged — are available for purchase too. Best wishes! — Diana Brickell (Hsieh)


Fraud

  • Q&A: The Obligation to Report a Crime: 3 May 2015, Question 2
  • Question: When is a person obliged to report a crime? About ten years ago, as a nurse, I heard a patient planning to do something illegal – particularly, to lie to an insurance company about the relationship between her injuries and the car accident so that she could keep all the settlement money. At the time, I decided to disengage but not confront or report her. I opted for that due to concerns about patient privacy, the non-violence of the planned crime, and the fact that the insurance company could detect her lie from her medical records. Recently, I've been thinking about the situation again. I'm trying to come up with a principle to apply, and I'm getting all muddled. What is my moral responsibility to intervene or report when I know that another person is planning or has done something illegal – meaning, something that would violate someone's rights? Does my responsibility change if it's a friend (assumed in confidence) or stranger (overheard in public)? Does it matter if the crime has already taken place or is merely in the works? Where is the line regarding severity of the crime? (I'd obviously report if I even heard a stranger plotting murder.) Also, what if you might be harmed if you report, such as in the case of a gang murder? Is there some basic principle that can clarify when a person is obliged to report knowledge of a crime?

    Tags: Crime, Ethics, Fraud, Law, Medicine, Obligation, Police, Rights

  • Q&A: Fractional Reserve Banking, Fraud, and Deception: 8 Mar 2015, Question 1
  • Question: Does fraud require deliberate deception? Some libertarians, most notably Walter Block, have tried to argue that fraud does not require deliberate deception. For example, argues Block, if I tried to sell you a square circle, and I believed that square circles existed, and so did you, and you agreed to the transaction, then, since square circles do not actually exist, this would still count as fraud, even though no deliberate deception has taken place. Block has used this argument to indict fractional reserve banking, by arguing that it still counts as fraud even though all parties are knowingly consenting. Is he talking rationalist nonsense?

    Tags: Business, Deception, Finance, Fraud, Government, Honesty, Law, Rights

  • Q&A: Changing Jobs Quickly: 8 Feb 2015, Question 2
  • Question: Is it immoral or unwise to accept a better job soon after starting a different one? I am ready to change jobs. I could probably move to another role within my company pretty quickly and easily and continue to move my career forward, but I could make more money and get better experience outside of my company. Outside job hunts can be lengthy and full of disappointments and all the while I would have to work at a job that is, frankly, killing my soul. I think it's pretty clear that – if I accept a new job in my company and immediately turn around and give notice to go somewhere else – I run a high risk of burning bridges with key contacts at my current company. But would it be unethical in some way to do that? When you accept a job are you making a tacit promise to work there for some period of time? If so, what's the minimum amount of time?

    Tags: Business, Ethics, Fraud, Honesty, Integrity, Trader Principle

  • Q&A: Psychics in a Free Society: 5 Oct 2014, Question 1
  • Question: In a free society, would psychics be prosecuted for fraud? How would the government in a rational, free-market system handle people and businesses, such as the Psychic Friends Network, which claim to have psychic powers (such as being able to talk to the dead) and charge the gullible hundreds of dollars in fees for "spiritual consultations"? Would the government prosecute such people for fraud? Or would the government have a "caveat emptor" attitude and say, "If people want to waste their money on that nonsense, that's their rightful prerogative"?

    Tags: Business, Crime, Fraud, Free Society, Honesty, Law, Mysticism, Rights

  • Q&A: Net Neutrality: 7 Sep 2014, Question 1
  • Question: Should "net neutrality" be law? Lately, many people on the left have been advocating for "net neutrality." What is it? What would its effects be? What are the arguments for and against it? If it shouldn't be law, might private "net neutrality" be a good thing?

    Tags: Business, Egalitarianism, Fraud, Government, Internet, Law, Politics, Progressivism, Property Rights, Rights, Technology

  • Q&A: Conning Jerks and Blowhards: 24 Aug 2014, Question 3
  • Question: Is it wrong to con jerks and blowhards? I know that dishonesty is wrong, but conning jerks and blowhards out of their money (as seen here) seems like justice at its best. So is it wrong?

    Tags: Emotions, Ethics, Fraud, Justice, Moral Character, Moral Habits, Revenge, Rights

  • Q&A: Buying and Returning Goods: 23 Mar 2014, Question 3
  • Question: Is it wrong to buy goods with the intent to return them? A friend of mine will often buy jewelry from large department stores for events, knowing that she'll likely return the items. (Sometimes, however, she'll keep an item even when she thought she'd return it.) She returns the goods undamaged and soon after buying. She asked me what I thought of the morality of her actions. In my opinion, she's acting morally because she's not committing fraud. The stores in question have liberal return policies ("if you are unhappy for whatever reason..."). They must know that some of their customers might do what she's doing and think that allowing it is good for business. Is that right?

    Tags: Business, Character, Ethics, Fraud, Honesty, Rules, Trader Principle

  • Q&A: Stealing Valor: 15 Apr 2012, Question 3
  • Question: Should "stealing valor" be a crime? Rencently, a man was arrested by the FBI in Houston and charged with "stolen valor." This is the charge made against someone who falsely poses as a decorated soldier. Is it proper to make this a crime? Why or why not?

    Tags: Constitution, Ethics, Fraud, Free Speech, Government, Law, Rights

  • Q&A: Browsing Without Buying: 17 Apr 2011, Question 3
  • Question: Is it immoral to browse a store with no intention of buying there? Is it immoral to take advantage of the freedom to look through books in a bookstore, or to try out a laptop in a shop, with no intention to actually buying it in that shop? For instance, you check out a book in the shop to decide whether you want to buy it, knowing that if you buy it, you'll do so from Amazon instead. Is that wrong?

    Tags: Business, Competition, Ethics, Fraud, Honesty, Internet


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