The Instigator
Pro (for)
3 Points
The Contender
Con (against)
0 Points

Stealing is Sometimes Justified

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 1/1/2014 Category: Miscellaneous
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 3,542 times Debate No: 43238
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (1)
Votes (1)




First round for acceptance only.

My resolution will be that in the worst case scenario, it is justified to steal, or it is sometimes justified to steal.

My opponent's resolution is that even in the worst case scenario, it is not justified to steal.

Justified: Having, done for, or marked by a good or legitimate reason.

Steal: Take (another person's property) without permission and without intending to return it.

Religious references shall not be used (such as Bible or Qur'an).

When a scenario is presented, it can not be argued invalid.

By accepting, you agree what I am debating for, and what you are debating for. You agree to the rules and definitions.

With that said, let the debate commence!!



I accept this debate. I will be arguing that stealing is never justified.
I agree to everything that was stated in my opponents first argument.
Debate Round No. 1


Thank you for accepting. Note my opponent agrees with everything I said in the first round.

--Argument 1: Legitimate reasons--

(Ia) Scenario 1:

Johnny is 27 and living in the midst of a big American war. Many people from Iraq are trying to destroy America.

One day, Johnny goes into the Empire State building to take a tour. He gets lost and wanders off from the group. He goes into a room that is scarcely visited and sees a very dangerous bomb that is about to go off. Johnny knows how to disarm it and throw it away where it can not do any harm. However, is stealing justified here?

(Ib) Is this stealing, and is it justified?

First, we need to look at if it would really be stealing. The definition in the first round is to take another person's property without permission and without intending to return it. Johnny would be taking the bomb without the Iraqi's permission, and does not intend to return it. So yes, this would be defined as stealing.

Now, is it really justified? Or in other words, does Johnny have a legitimate reason to steal it? Yes, he does. If he disarms the bomb and puts it where no harm can be done, he would be saving hundreds, if not thousands, from a deadly terrorist attack. So his reason to steal is to save lives.

If I am not mistaken, saving lives is a justifiable reason to do almost anything. For example, murder, which is a much more serious crime (at the point of jail time, at least), has been found to be justified in self-defense and saving lives (1). And stealing is a lesser crime than murdering. Even if they were equal crimes, stealing would still be justified in this situation, since you could compare it to the Supreme Court ruling that murder is justifiable when you do it to save lives.

Therefore, my resolution is proven in this scenario.

(IIa) Scenario 2:

A little boy named Alberto in the poor part of Nigeria is starving and will die if he does not eat. His neighbor, a very rich successful farmer, grows apples and potatoes for a living, but does not share at all.
Alberto decides to steal to survive. His neighbor has 500 apples, and he takes one, just ONE, to eat and survive. His neighbor never notices it goes missing and does not impact his profit at all.

(IIb) Is this stealing, and is it justified?

First, we need to look at if it would really be stealing. Alberto does not have permission from his neighbor to take the apple, nor does he ever intend to return it. So yes, this scenario would be defined as an act of stealing. However, is this justified?

In my eyes, this is justified. First off, as also pointed out it my last point, stealing for life is justified. Alberto's life would be saved by stealing. Also, this stealing has no negative effect, only a positive effect. The neighbor never notices the apple has gone missing and does not suffer from it, so why is it bad to steal for life in this scenario? Only good comes from it.

If my opponent disagrees with these two arguments, it would mean that she does not think that life/living is a legitimate reason to steal. She would also think that one/multiple deaths is better than stealing. And the lives saved would not be bad lives (such as Al Qaeda or Lindsay Lohan).

Since this debate is going to be more of a rebuttal debate or me, that is all I have for today. I will post much longer arguments in the proceeding two rounds. Thank you for reading.



I disagree with these arguments because I believe that the people could find many other solutions to the above problems. For example in scenario 1, Johnny could have gone and warned someone who worked there, and not only would the job be professionally, but also, it is not stealing. The definition of stealing according to the New English Dictionary, is to take (the property of another or others) without permission or right, especially secretly or by force. If Johnny was to tell someone else about the bomb, then first off this would not be in secret, and he is not doing anything by force, therefore he is not stealing. He would not be taking anything, and even though he does know how to disarm the bomb, he will not be taking and not returning, because he is not doing anything. Lives could and would still be saved, but without the stealing factor of it all.

Looking at scenario 2, Alberto could have done many things. One thing he could have possibly done would have been to to someone else who would have shared. If he had one neighbor then he would also have had one in the opposite direction approximately the same distance. Also he could have sold something of his or traded it for food. Stealing is not the only solution to this problem. Many people are going through a very similar problem right now. Most third world countries are starving, but other countries are helping them.

I do not necessarily disagree with the statements of my opponent, but I do have solutions that are not stealing, so therefore stealing is not justified since there are other ways of doing things. Life saving/living is a very important thing to do, but it is possible to do this in ways other than stealing.
Debate Round No. 2


I knew my opponent was going to say that (other options). So allow me to add more specifics to the scenarios.

He also argued against my definitions, which I strongly advise for a loss of conduct points. I quote my opponent:

"I agree to everything that was stated in my opponents first argument."

That means the definitions and the scenarios alike. My opponent knew well before he posted his rebuttal the definition of stealing. A new definition shall not be used, as agreed upon.

--Counter Rebuttal I: Scenario 1--


Plants bomb in Empire State building with 10:00 on the timer and quickly flees the city and kills himself, as to never be found. He did not even alert any other Israeli's about the bomb, so anyone who takes it would be considered stealing.


Johnny finds a big bomb in a restricted access room that was put there by an Israeli person. The bomb would detonate in 30 seconds if Johnny does not disarm and take it elsewhere. He has absolutely no time to alert anyone else.

Yes, Johnny could just leave it there after disarming it. However, the government of the U.S.A would take it if alerted, so then the government would be stealing. No matter what Johnny does, it would be considered stealing. He has no choice.

Furthermore, you state how it is not stealing by your own definition. I see no need to refute the latter part of your argument because it does not follow the definition agreed upon.

However, there is one claim that I would like to point out. If Johnny goes for help to the security guards, don't you think the security guards would take it out of the building, or steal it? Do you really think anyone in America would really leave a bomb inside the Empire State Building and not take it somewhere?

--Counter rebuttal II: Scenario 2--

Alberto lives next to a very successful farm in Nigeria. However, that is the only source of food for miles around, as he has no other neighbors. He usually survives on road kill by a small road, but today there wasn't any. Alberto is too weak to walk far, so he can not reach his next neighbor. His family is sick, so they can't either. There are no relief funds in this part of Nigeria. The farmer was off to sell potatoes, and Alberto decides to steal. It is his only option.

So, this new scenario uproots your argument that he could've gone to someone who actually shared. Also, I do not see your logic that he has to have another neighbor. Where do you get this information from?

This new scenario also uproots your saying that he could've traded. No one was within his walking distance, and he was poor, so he did not have any tradeable items he could afford to lose. Therefore, your argument is falsified.

As for your conclusion, it is also flawed. Even if these people had other options, it is still justified becuase it is for a legitamite reason. Even if it is not the best choice, it is still justified (according to the definition). I look forward to round four.

Thank you for reading.


I never argued against my opponents definition. I simply added my own. I never said no to the previous definition.

As for your added information about the scenarios, this is added information that should have been added in the first round of scenarios.
I will however take all of this into consideration, and make counter arguments with certain quotes.

Quote 1: "Enter, stranger, but take heed Of what awaits the sin of greed, For those who take, but do not earn, Must pay most dearly in their turn. So if you seek beneath our floors A treasure that was never yours, Thief, you have been warned, beware Of finding more than treasure there."
R13; J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone

Quote 2: "Man is not, by nature, deserving of all that he wants. When we think that we are automatically entitled to something, that is when we start walking all over others to get it."
R13; Criss Jami, Diotima, Battery, Electric Personality

Quote 3: "The robb'd that smiles, steals something from the thief; He robs himself that spends a bootless grief."
R13; William Shakespeare, Othello

As seen, all of these great books, authors, poets, and people have one thing in common. They all see stealing as a crime that is unjust.

This is my argument. This may not be a real life scenario, but it is living proof that thievery is bad.
Debate Round No. 3


Last round is for polishing up, so no new rebuttals. However, I would like to point out a thing or two about my opponent's last arguments.

"I never argued against my opponents definition. I simply added my own. I never said no to the previous definition."

That's the thing. You can't add a new definition that switches the old definition. The definition in the first round was the only definition, and you agreed upon it.

Then he proceeded to use quotes from famous people to prove his point... even one from a FICTIONAL MOVIE. If all of those guys said that crack and nicotine was great and totally legal, would you believe it? No! My opponent fails to refute in a proper manner in the third round.

He also said details should have been added in the second round. I added the new details in the third round to properly refute what my opponent said by adding new details. Nowhere in the agreement does it say I could not add new details to the scenario later on.

Anyway, I finish up this debate. I ask con to keep his writing to a minimum as I can not respond.

Thank you for the debate!



Using quotes from famous people is a way of stating what others think, and if my opponent does not wish to this as me failing to refute in a proper manner, then I would suggest you make a debate about that, and see how it goes, or an opinion to see what the maximum amount of people think on this.

As for me adding a definition, our agreement never said I could not add a definition. It simply stated that I was to agree to the definition. There is no rule about adding another definition.

Finally, I believe that your arguments are all valid. They are not however, real. This is one flaw. My quotes were real. Stated by real people, but the scenarios were not they were as well as made up.

That is my argument to conclude this debate.

Thanks for this Fun Debate.
Debate Round No. 4
1 comment has been posted on this debate.
Posted by papayarocx5 3 years ago
EVERYONE: the round with the quotes had no movie!!! It was a book.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by InVinoVeritas 3 years ago
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Total points awarded:30 
Reasons for voting decision: Con effectively dropped all points during the movie quote round.