• People that tag or graffiti but would be upset if someone tagged or graffitied their own property

    I have friends that think tagging and graffiti are fine. I then suggest I go tag their car or computer or sofa and they seem less fine about it but it doesn't change their minds.

  • People that break and enter but would be upset if someone broke and entered their property.

    I have friends that have snuck into people's backyards or pools and while on the one hand if not caught it seems like no harm to foul but at the same time when someone's private space is invaded they often find it hard to feel safe for a very long time pointing out that breaking and entering, even if nothing is stolen, can still have repercussions for the person whose property was entered.

  • People that shoplift or steal but would be upset if someone stole from them.

    Most people don't like to have their things stolen though many take it for granted that things will be stolen if not constantly vigil and seem to have the attitude if you weren't vigil enough then you deserved to have it stolen.

  • People that vandalize but would be upset if their own property were vandalized.

    This is arguably the same as the graffiti above but covers more actions like breaking windows, sugaring gas tanks, picking and throwing fruit in someone else's garden, and other forms of property destruction.

I have a great many friends that feel most alive (their words) when breaking the law in the above ways and yet they don't seem to acknowledge that they wouldn't want someone to perpetrate that same behavior on themselves.

Is there a philosophy POV from which this type of behavior is seen as a net positive?

  • 1
    Time to change your friends.
    – gnasher729
    Commented Dec 26, 2017 at 10:27
  • I don't know what world you live in by in my world it seems like 99% of people think tagging is cool (not saying they do it but they see it as "artistic expression" and not property damage even though they wouldn't want that expression on their own property. Most of them feel that sneaking into off limits places is thrilling. Many also do things like buying something, using it for 1 to 7 days, then return it for a full refund as normal, just what's done and seem to have zero 2nd thoughts though they know if they ran a store they'd not be happy about that.
    – gman
    Commented Dec 26, 2017 at 10:39
  • Maybe "Philosphy of stupidity" ? Commented Dec 26, 2017 at 13:24
  • You could call this hypocrisy, or simply the belief that I and my friends are better than others, so rules that apply to others don't apply to me-- I can harm them, but they can't harm me. I'd argue that most of the human race thinks this way (it may even be tribal instinct), but won't admit it :)
    – user935
    Commented Dec 26, 2017 at 21:20
  • This question is the inverse of Kant’s admonition to act as though your actions were to become a universal law. This question might have been answered here already. Commented Dec 26, 2017 at 21:47

2 Answers 2


I can think of three points of view :

  1. Some people lack the imagination to realise the harm they are doing, the consequences of their behaviour. They steal a wedding ring and don't or can't pause to consider the distress they can and often do cause. They do what they wouldn't want others to do to them because of a failure of moral imagination.

  2. Others don't give a hang about morality. Yes, they might see what they do as morally wrong but morality itself as just an irrelevance. Reminds me of an exchange in character Bernard Shaw's play, 'Pygmalion' :

“HIGGINS. Have you no morals, man? DOOLITTLE [unabashed] Cant afford them, Governor. Neither could you if you was as poor as me.”

  1. Others do a little cool calculation of probability. They agree that they wouldn't like others to do to them what they do to others, but others are mainly moral and so almost certainly won't do the same back to them. 'What if everyone did the same ?' 'Ah, but they won't - more fools they - and I can self-interestedly count on that'.

I believe that the majority of the cases, it is not a P.O.V. that allows some people to act towards others in ways they would not want on themselves, but rather:
1 Incapable of feeling empathy for others.
2 Lack of moral values.
3 Pleasure from the pain of others.
4 Mental incapability and/or other mental problems.

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