# On Conscience, Potentials, and Ethics

Discussion in 'Ethics, Morality, & Justice' started by Tiassa, Aug 25, 2018.

1. ### TiassaLet us not launch the boat ...Staff Member

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So, Frank was selling a car.

I probably would have bought the car, but someone beat me to it.

My brother, who was helping me in the search, was furious; we'd paid a bridge toll to come out, would pay another to return, and the bottom line was he knew we missed a gem.

I'm accustomed to this moment. I tried blaming myself, according to family custom, but couldn't think of much; this was a shit happens outcome.

Except ...

... the next morning my brother went ballistic; the buyer was flipping the car for seven hundred dollars with a cheap brokerage advert. Frank, at least, had been honest about the car's condition. I don't mean, like, fisticuffs at the bike rack, but my brother was hollering at me to go fight for that car, and Frank, to be honest, is a windblown reed. No, really, there are a couple xkcd episodes about this, and he's one of these. The buyer didn't have to bully him, or anything; this was an easy score, just give him the damn money. A perfect buy.

I bought a car, today; the lost Toyota isn't a big deal; I just need to attend the tires and brakes on the Ford, which I knew when I offered, and the socially awkward but not unconfident—there is, assuredly, a story there, but I don't know it—young man who sold it to me easily accepted the nine percent reduction offer.

My brother, much calmer, remembered Frank. I might want to drop Frank a line, anyway, because the turnaround was fast enough to suggest the flipper might be skipping out on title transfer. And he's got a point: If the broker doesn't rotate the title, Frank carries the broker's liability.

I was never going to go pitch a fit at Frank. Seriously, someone gave him an offer that he accepted, and that's how this market works.

But I could have sent him an email about liability in the time it took me to write this post, and I haven't, and I knew I wasn't sending the communique when I started the inquiry.

And that's just it. My brother has a point, and Frank is the sort to get just mowed if anything goes wrong.

Part of me just doesn't care, and that's the decision that has prevailed. Nor do I intend to change it, but still.

It's an abstract ethical question: Why is it right or wrong?

I can speculate probabilities in a pseudoactuarial argument, but the truth is I don't really know what the odds are that this is the evil broker and this is the time something goes wrong.

I can even speculate that I would only be stressing Frank out by re-establishing contact, if I need a pretense for excusing myself.

It's even an improbable candidate for wondering what to do if it ever comes up again.

And if you ever want to see neurosis, this post is an example: If I don't care, then why take the time to isolate and present the episode for consideration? Then again, that's why people say this part is beside the point.

Nonetheless, the question remains, and it is not a case of being my neighbor's keeper or not, but, rather, to what degree we carry that obligation, and what it means.

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3. ### RainbowSingularityValued Senior Member

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im going to be as clinical as possible
1 you cant prevent the accident that the eventual buyer might have(thats a logic state of science)
2 you can cmplain to variant authoraties which would eventuate as a litigious rant of compliance admin.
3 given what you have written, i sense you sense a sense of niceness about frank.
in the interests of paying it forward maybe a word to frank about seeing the car being re-sold and advising him to wonder in to a local police station and make an enquiry about filling out a change of ownership paper and documenting the visit in his own journal should anything happen.
no need to make any official complaint, but registering his visit to a legal body as proof of the non liability might be prudent.
or just filling out a document or equvilent visit to what ever agency registers car ownership.

the reason i say police office is because i imagine the vehicle registration agency would probably act dumb and say "not our problem" and "you must obey the law"
where as any sound police officer can recognise someone trying to do the right thing without being an A-hole to make sure they are not leaving people blowing in the wind.

depends on the quality of police in your country. not all countrys have the luxury to have a sound well mannered police force that do the job for puclic service.
some are doing it becaue its a pay check while others for personal power issues and routes to other profesions.

the fact that a government agency would put hurdles in the way of a seller to declare their disownership of an asset or product in a capitalist championing ecconomy seems ludicrous but the nature of the beast is often insular practices trying to do the least possible work to garner the most possible profit and least possible paper work while then over reacting to things that become ego centric or obsessions and personal issues.
(sorry for typos bit of a nagging low level migraine)

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5. ### SeattleValued Senior Member

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This is a long post, mainly full of unnecessary information, to describe a deal that you didn't get. The new buyer immediately resold the car. You bought a car elsewhere from a "socially awkward but not unconfident" seller.

There is no story or ethics violation here. Your brother is a hot head (surprise) but there is no story here. When the seller signs off on the title his liability ends.

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7. ### TiassaLet us not launch the boat ...Staff Member

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There is no pathos here, which is no surprise.

It can take a lot of money and effort to explain to a court that one has already signed off on the title.

I actually tend to agree there isn't much of a problem with the other buyer, but you got everything else wrong.

Nice priorities. Your lack of pathos is why you botched.

8. ### TiassaLet us not launch the boat ...Staff Member

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35,513
It's a bureaucratic result. Something goes awry, you look at the record to see who's who.

To wit, my father once sold a car to a neighbor's son. The new owner was running late, and figured he had thirty days to handle the paperwork, so he went to work and out to sea for two weeks. Unfortunately, he also forgot to file other paperwork, too, so nobody knew whose car this was parked at the facility, and two weeks of parking tickets were issued. Guy gets back, everybody has a laugh about the tickets, and forgets about them. Well, everybody at the dock. The cops who wrote them and court that enforces, well, it's their job to figure out who is who, and are knocking at my father's door to ask for their fines and back penalties because his name, even at that point, with enough time having passed for them to even decide to come looking, was still on the title record with the state.

Like I said, though, what, really, are the chances that this comes back to haunt Frank? Not a lot. Frank signed the title; did the broker? Even still, what are the chances that something comes up that some court or lawyer need come looking for one or the other after the next buyer dies in strange accident, or something?

I took some risks, today, in buying the car I did, but I chose to do so for a number of reasons that made perfect sense in their moment, but the government so just wants its money that it contracts this duty to licensed private operators. We might have ditched the excise tax, but, hey, even better, this is now a sales tax issue, and one can literally be in and out in five minutes on a day like today.

I think of it more as a question of whether I owe a stranger, who I happen to presume naïve, a particular piece of advice on the off-chance that it might possibly come up because we happened to think of it while grumbling over not buying his car ...

... or, y'know, I mean, what would I think if someone I just didn't sell a car to called me back, days later, ostensibly to warn me about car flippers who might leave my name on the title through the next transaction?

That's why conscience and potentials are in the title. If it happened to come up down the road, and I though, "Is that Frank?" I might be fascinated at the coincidence. But someone said something and I made a conscious decision that it isn't my problem. I'm okay with that, but the analysis is just really, really weird. It feels superficial and selfish. Like I said to Seattle, I don't disagree there isn't any problem with the other buyer; this is the way the market works.

I could also be wrong about the odds of evil brokers; I don't expect to be particularly wrong about the chance that this is the time something goes wrong. I mean, part of it is that it was a good car, and isn't about to burst into flames. At some point I would have to put effort into imagining this coming back to Frank.

In any case, simply not wanting to think about it, anymore isn't the best framework for deciding anything.

9. ### RainbowSingularityValued Senior Member

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1,097
i know you enough to know you would be aware of transference.
which is why i elucidate the moral compass as being a duty to self rather than other.
the duty to self is the honour of protecting the other if you were them.
the selfless act is ignorance.
ignorance is not an ideal long term partner.
(by now you might detect my posit of prose)

young child(looks roughly 6yo) playing on the footpath by a road. no adults around
what do you do ?

what is the moral imperative ?
a combination meal of ?
liking frank
liking the car
liking the model of interaction
associative discordant languish to what-ifs double reflects ?
perfections first glance at the new lawn covered in dew ?

sometimes the malaise of emotional association can be as mixed up as gravy over chocolate cake.

10. ### SeattleValued Senior Member

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3,434
The last seller probably didn't switch the car to his name as there probably was no time to do so and probably no requirement to do so for a broker. Even if you called Frank, what would you tell him, what could he do at that point?

This is worrying about a problem that isn't a problem. You were hoping to buy a $700 car and now you have one with tire and brake problems? Maybe having a car isn't what you really need? The first repair that you need will be more than the car is worth. If you get in an accident, the car will be totalled. You are in your mid-40's? Excuse the lack of "pathos". By the way, who talks like that? 11. ### RainbowSingularityValued Senior Member Messages: 1,097 what is this nihilism bent i hear in your tone ? i thought you to be a christian(beliver in a god of sorts etc) 12. ### SeattleValued Senior Member Messages: 3,434 You thought wrong. I am not a believer in a god. There is no nihilism in my "tone" however. I know from past experience that inexpensive cars are totalled (rather than made whole) when someone else hits you and is at fault. Your car doesn't get fixed, it gets totalled and you just get whatever book value is and you are now without a car. 13. ### RainbowSingularityValued Senior Member Messages: 1,097 ah ok "book value" the term for managed profit margin with agreed monopoly of market variance etc... i think people should start insuring cars for agreed sum insured or replacement cost. but the law making car insurance compulsory taints the market to make it a financial facism rather than a democratic capitalist market place. i find that hypocrisy in the western world quite interesting. its like an endorsement of borderline personality disorder in company moral policy for moral interaction with the general public. the irony that gun insurance is not compulsory(in the usa) is not lost on me. 14. ### TiassaLet us not launch the boat ...Staff Member Messages: 35,513 You're right: Your make-believe is only a problem of your own making. (Whatever the problem is, see to it. No, really, what line goes here? Sober up? Get over yourself? Why are you out looking for a fight?) • • •​ It's a bit more complicated than that. There actually comes a point where the glaring classism becomes a constitutional issue as abridgment to access. And we haven't even gotten to the predictable racism in claims adjustment and settlement. Furthermore, I can recall, anecdotally, an occasion when the court resolution was just under$1150 in restitution for "accidentally" shooting someone to death.

Oh, and "democratic capitalist market place" simply means an unregulated free for all, and Americans have shown themselves incapable of conducting themselves responsibly under such circumstances. You know, as human beings will.

15. ### SeattleValued Senior Member

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The alternative seems to be "financial fascism". It's hard to win sometimes.

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16. ### iceauraValued Senior Member

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You could be offering Frank a little more money for his car - if he still has the title.

17. ### SeattleValued Senior Member

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Why would he still have the title? He sold the car and it's been resold even.

18. ### iceauraValued Senior Member

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26,880
If the guy is flipping the title, as was suggested, Frank has title - and attendant liabilities - until the new owner registers the car as his.