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And she called me stupid

fast

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I overheard a conversation she was having, and in light of it decided to pose a hypothetical scenario question. We’ve known each other a long time, and we speak our minds, so trust me when I say calling me stupid was mild. Although I’ve been called a whole lot worse by her over the years, truth is, we’ve become friends and there’s just no telling what we might say. At any rate, my hypothetical was meant to simplify and parallel the jist of something she said in the conversation I heard. I’ll now pose it to you all.

Let’s say someone comes to you to borrow $100 — with the agreement that it will be paid back next Friday. You lend it to her. Next Friday comes, but you are not paid back. So, this someone still owes you $100.

Fast forward a couple months later. The person still hasn’t paid nor has forgotten, but you need to borrow $200 —with the agreement that it will be paid back next Friday. She lends it to you.

When Friday comes,

do you A) pay back a hundred dollars (of the $200) thereby balancing the books such that no one owes either any money, or

do you B) pay back the entire two hundred dollars, with that person still owing you $100?

She said “A”

She said, “what, you’d pay [$200]?”

I said yes and she called me stupid.

She said her not being paid back is partly why she’s in the mess now—would of only had to borrow $100.

My reasoning is that two wrongs don’t make it right; they’re independent agreements. A person not honoring her agreement doesn’t justify me breaking mine.

I told a couple others what had happened. Both said they’d only pay back $100. One also thought I was stupid. One understood where I was coming from. She tried to explain that people that lend shouldn’t expect it back. I said, as the borrower, I can still decide to keep my word and honor my agreement regardless of the choices others make. If she wants to turn around and pay me back the $100 she owes, that’s her choice.

On moral grounds, I think I have the upper hand, but on stupidity grounds, that’s still up in the air. If this were a legal transaction with extra zeros and there was a caveat for me to take an “A” type position, morality be damned, I wouldn’t be stupid, but with little money, I don’t see the advantage of doing what’s wrong—even if the person you’re doing it to would actually understand and accept it.

I think some may hold that it wouldn’t be wrong to pay back only the $100, but for those that think it is actually wrong but also thinks it’s stupid, if they are right, it would be stupid to do what’s right.

Any thoughts?
 
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Rhea

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I would definitely have said something. Like “Do you want me to just pay back the $100 so we’re even up now? I’m prepared to pay what I borrowed, but if you want to use the opportunity to square up, let me know.”

I wouldn’t say “stupid”, but I would definitely have used the opportunity to discuss.
 

fast

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I would definitely have said something. Like “Do you want me to just pay back the $100 so we’re even up now? I’m prepared to pay what I borrowed, but if you want to use the opportunity to square up, let me know.”

I wouldn’t say “stupid”, but I would definitely have used the opportunity to discuss.

So you (like me) would have been willing to pay the entire $200; granted, it’s post discussion, but ultimately, you wouldn’t have just commingled the agreements and adjusted accordingly.
 

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Putting aside discussing the arrangement with her, which appears preferable...returning the $200 puts the ball back in her court. It is then up to her to do what you did, give you the $100 that she owes you.
 

fast

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Putting aside discussing the arrangement with her, which appears preferable...returning the $200 puts the ball back in her court. It is then up to her to do what you did, give you the $100 that she owes you.

I think the morality of the situation is independent of any further discussion whatsoever. It might be smart to remind her of what has not been forgotten (to what end, apply pressure regarding a prior agreement?), but the right thing to do is honor my current agreement. Any pressure to secure previous money borrowed could have taken place before the second agreement (or even during the later arrangement), but to wait until the ball is in my court to have this discussion kinda makes things look a bit premeditated on my part. Why else not bring it up originally?

See, you came to me for help, and I helped you. I got screwed over, and when I came to you for help, I didn’t bring it up, so now while I have you by the balls, i’m now gonna have a discussion? If there was ever any possibility that I had no intentions on paying you back as agreed, I should never have come to you in the first place—or accepted any proposal from you should you have offered to lend me the money had you noticed I needed it.
 

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I don't get the idea that she had $200 available to lend to you or possibly to someone else but she didn't have the $100 available to pay you back. Something's missing from the equation. And it doesn't seem like this all is about what's legally justified. It was a handshake agreement based on personal trust.
 

Horatio Parker

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You agreed to repay $200:
Fast forward a couple months later. The person still hasn’t paid nor has forgotten, but you need to borrow $200 —with the agreement that it will be paid back next Friday.

If you wanted to pay $100 and cancel the debt, why not say so?
 

Treedbear

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I don't get the idea that she had $200 available to lend to you or possibly to someone else but she didn't have the $100 available to pay you back. Something's missing from the equation. And it doesn't seem like this all is about what's legally justified. It was a handshake agreement based on personal trust.

ETA - If it didn't simply involve money changing hands then I'd grant that you were probably obliged to honor the commitment you made to her. Such as if you'd agreed to lend her your car to run an errand or to pick up her child at the doctor or some such. There's the tacit assumption that the money was a separate issue. So unless there was some understanding when you agreed to pay back the $200 that included the reason she hadn't paid you back yet, then yeah it was essentially stupid. But I wouldn't want to assume that.
 

abaddon

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Never lend to those with whom you expect to converse in the future.
This. Or go ahead and lend the money, but be sure you're 100% ok with just letting the debt slide when the disagreements about payback come up.

To me, the name-calling between friends would be the bigger deal than the money. There's no way I'd tolerate it. My friendships have an unbreakable condition on them: it's mutual respect, or BYE.
 

TSwizzle

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In a casual arrangement such as this, I would hang on to the $200 until I was asked for it. When asked, I would pay back $100 and explain I am withholding the other $100 as it is being used to pay a long overdue debt of $100. Then I would promise myself never to lend or borrow from that person again.
 

Angra Mainyu

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I would need more info about the situation in which I borrowed the money. How come I did that? Why am I still speaking to her? Is she a close family member? Is there any other reason to talk to her? I can imagine very unrealistic hypothetical scenarios in which I would borrow money from her, but then, the hypotheses in many of the scenarios play a role on whether I give her the $200 back, or $100, or $0, and only $100 a couple of months later.
 

fast

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Never lend to those with whom you expect to converse in the future.
This. Or go ahead and lend the money, but be sure you're 100% ok with just letting the debt slide when the disagreements about payback come up.

To me, the name-calling between friends would be the bigger deal than the money. There's no way I'd tolerate it. My friendships have an unbreakable condition on them: it's mutual respect, or BYE.

https://images.app.goo.gl/7sV1wJzJioAQTQibA
 

fast

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I would need more info about the situation in which I borrowed the money. How come I did that? Why am I still speaking to her? Is she a close family member? Is there any other reason to talk to her? I can imagine very unrealistic hypothetical scenarios in which I would borrow money from her, but then, the hypotheses in many of the scenarios play a role on whether I give her the $200 back, or $100, or $0, and only $100 a couple of months later.
I think you’re overthinking it when you want to consider how the situation came to be. It doesn’t matter one iota. If you said you were gonna pay it back and no strings were spoken of, then barring unforeseen reasons, neither post hoc rationale nor preagreement circumstances alter your moral obligation to do as you said you would.
 

fast

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In a casual arrangement such as this, I would hang on to the $200 until I was asked for it. When asked, I would pay back $100 and explain I am withholding the other $100 as it is being used to pay a long overdue debt of $100. Then I would promise myself never to lend or borrow from that person again.

What does it being casual have to do with anything? It doesn’t give you a moral pass to shrewdly balance the books.
 

fast

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This. Or go ahead and lend the money, but be sure you're 100% ok with just letting the debt slide when the disagreements about payback come up.
I disagree with the first one-worded sentence, but I agree with the next one.
 

fast

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I don't get the idea that she had $200 available to lend to you or possibly to someone else but she didn't have the $100 available to pay you back. Something's missing from the equation. And it doesn't seem like this all is about what's legally justified. It was a handshake agreement based on personal trust.
I’m not speaking on what may or may not be legal but rather what is or isn’t right.

Some would hold that a man’s word is his bond, and if two of that kind are dealing, never would a written contract be necessary—at least not for as something as simple as this.

If my best friend (J) in the whole wide world told me you (T) were as trustworthy as the day is long and yet you didn’t pay me back the $100 I lent you, I have no need to even ask why you haven’t, for if my friend is correct, you have a justified reason for why you didn’t pay me as agreed. If I later go to you for $200, my friend has nothing to fear about what it is I’m going to do when it comes time for me to repay you.
 

T.G.G. Moogly

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I would definitely have said something. Like “Do you want me to just pay back the $100 so we’re even up now? I’m prepared to pay what I borrowed, but if you want to use the opportunity to square up, let me know.”

I wouldn’t say “stupid”, but I would definitely have used the opportunity to discuss.

Best reply and course of action.
 

bilby

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Never lend to those with whom you expect to converse in the future.
This. Or go ahead and lend the money, but be sure you're 100% ok with just letting the debt slide when the disagreements about payback come up.

To me, the name-calling between friends would be the bigger deal than the money. There's no way I'd tolerate it. My friendships have an unbreakable condition on them: it's mutual respect, or BYE.

Ha!

If my mates DIDN'T call me rude names, I would know they weren't real friends.

The stronger the insults, the stronger the friendship. Only your best mate would call you a cunt and not expect a broken nose.

It's an Australian thing. I wouldn't advise trying it until you have been here a LONG time, unless you are very good at either fighting or running.

Oh, and never lend money to a friend unless you are prepared to forget either the debt or the relationship.
 

Angra Mainyu

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I would need more info about the situation in which I borrowed the money. How come I did that? Why am I still speaking to her? Is she a close family member? Is there any other reason to talk to her? I can imagine very unrealistic hypothetical scenarios in which I would borrow money from her, but then, the hypotheses in many of the scenarios play a role on whether I give her the $200 back, or $100, or $0, and only $100 a couple of months later.
I think you’re overthinking it when you want to consider how the situation came to be. It doesn’t matter one iota. If you said you were gonna pay it back and no strings were spoken of, then barring unforeseen reasons, neither post hoc rationale nor preagreement circumstances alter your moral obligation to do as you said you would.

No, I think it matters a lot. Previous circumstances do play a role on whether there is a moral obligation in the first place. Not all promises result in obligations (e.g., if someone is pointing a gun at my head, there is no obligation; that might not have been the case here, but then, she might have been taking advantage (knowingly) of a truly dire situation, caused in part by herself, etc.; in short, I need (a lot) more info).
 

abaddon

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Never lend to those with whom you expect to converse in the future.
This. Or go ahead and lend the money, but be sure you're 100% ok with just letting the debt slide when the disagreements about payback come up.

To me, the name-calling between friends would be the bigger deal than the money. There's no way I'd tolerate it. My friendships have an unbreakable condition on them: it's mutual respect, or BYE.

Ha!

If my mates DIDN'T call me rude names, I would know they weren't real friends.

The stronger the insults, the stronger the friendship. Only your best mate would call you a cunt and not expect a broken nose.

It's an Australian thing. I wouldn't advise trying it until you have been here a LONG time, unless you are very good at either fighting or running.

Oh, and never lend money to a friend unless you are prepared to forget either the debt or the relationship.
I misspoke to make it seem that name-calling was the point, because the point was respect. There's respect or there's no friendship. My friends call each other names, but goofy ones. Never "stupid" because it's never friendly, it's the sort of thing highly abusive parents or spouses, or stupidest of enemies, say. "Cunt" might work because it's a silly word (between men).
 

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I'd pay back the $200 and ding the hell out of their credit rating.
 

Jimmy Higgins

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I don't get the idea that she had $200 available to lend to you or possibly to someone else but she didn't have the $100 available to pay you back. Something's missing from the equation. And it doesn't seem like this all is about what's legally justified. It was a handshake agreement based on personal trust.
I’m not speaking on what may or may not be legal but rather what is or isn’t right.
You mean, what would be the mature option (discuss it before hand) and the passive-aggressive option (pay back the $200 and needlessly stew over it).
 

fast

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I would need more info about the situation in which I borrowed the money. How come I did that? Why am I still speaking to her? Is she a close family member? Is there any other reason to talk to her? I can imagine very unrealistic hypothetical scenarios in which I would borrow money from her, but then, the hypotheses in many of the scenarios play a role on whether I give her the $200 back, or $100, or $0, and only $100 a couple of months later.
I think you’re overthinking it when you want to consider how the situation came to be. It doesn’t matter one iota. If you said you were gonna pay it back and no strings were spoken of, then barring unforeseen reasons, neither post hoc rationale nor preagreement circumstances alter your moral obligation to do as you said you would.

No, I think it matters a lot. Previous circumstances do play a role on whether there is a moral obligation in the first place. Not all promises result in obligations (e.g., if someone is pointing a gun at my head, there is no obligation; that might not have been the case here, but then, she might have been taking advantage (knowingly) of a truly dire situation, caused in part by herself, etc.; in short, I need (a lot) more info).

I don’t think it matters, and the reason I don’t think it matters is precisely because it’s a hypothetical scenario. If the information wasn’t given, it shouldn’t be assumed, and it shouldn’t be considered. It’s a straight-up, no hidden truths situation, and though in real life I can appreciate that a promise under duress or threat might not allow for the creation of a moral obligation, I don’t see how this hypothetical can be considered so unrealistic. For you or I maybe, but there are people who don’t thoroughly analyze their friendships.

Let’s say a group of people work together, and one is a female who loves the saying “the struggle is real.” There’s a guy she works with; he’s her go-to guy when her struggles surface. She borrows $20 or $40 from him, and like always, she pays him back. They’ve known each other for a decade. They cut up, laugh, and occasionally play. They’ll buy each other lunch once in a while, and although it might be a little whopsided as to who buys more often than not, no one feels taken advantage of. Although she has borrowed as high as $400 in the past, he’s always been paid back. The most he’s ever borrowed was just enough to cover a lunch; either way, in the end, the books are balanced. No one gets stiffed.

A time comes where she gets her taxes back, and though it’s a great opportunity to repay the $100, her reality has some rather pressing struggles; the guy, at the time, just so happens to have an emergency and in need of a couple hundred bucks, and she realizes that because they share their stories. She offers to lend him $200 but expresses the need that she get it all back because of her single mom struggles. Nothing is said or brought up about the unpaid $100 to him; they both know and neither have forgotten.

When it comes time for him to pay, he does not all of a sudden utilize this opportunity to HAVE A DISCUSSION. Despite having gone without the $100 that she’ll get around to paying, he decides to keep his word and honor his agreement—which in the eyes of some is stupid since he has the opportunity to fuck her over by using the most inopportune time to balance the books and reassess whatever lopsidedness may exist in this perhaps less than desirable friendship according to others and their armchair thinking.

If you borrow my rake and don’t immediately return it, I’m still going to return the shovel I borrowed. That’s the right thing to do. Money shouldn’t make things different. If I say I’m going to return the $200 I borrowed, there should be absolutely no room for calculating or discussions. If I want my $100 back, I might bring it up, but the $200 will be returned first, and the topic won’t be had until much later, if ever.
 

Treedbear

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No, I think it matters a lot. Previous circumstances do play a role on whether there is a moral obligation in the first place. Not all promises result in obligations (e.g., if someone is pointing a gun at my head, there is no obligation; that might not have been the case here, but then, she might have been taking advantage (knowingly) of a truly dire situation, caused in part by herself, etc.; in short, I need (a lot) more info).

I don’t think it matters, and the reason I don’t think it matters is precisely because it’s a hypothetical scenario. If the information wasn’t given, it shouldn’t be assumed, and it shouldn’t be considered. It’s a straight-up, no hidden truths situation, and though in real life I can appreciate that a promise under duress or threat might not allow for the creation of a moral obligation, I don’t see how this hypothetical can be considered so unrealistic. For you or I maybe, but there are people who don’t thoroughly analyze their friendships.

I agree with Angra because what's morally right and wrong always depends on circumstances. There is no formula for what's right and wrong.

...
If you borrow my rake and don’t immediately return it, I’m still going to return the shovel I borrowed. That’s the right thing to do. Money shouldn’t make things different. If I say I’m going to return the $200 I borrowed, there should be absolutely no room for calculating or discussions. If I want my $100 back, I might bring it up, but the $200 will be returned first, and the topic won’t be had until much later, if ever.

The world is far from ideal. The fact that they didn't honor their commitment should be reflected in the level of trust you put in them going forward. If the person didn't yet return the rake or the $100 would you trust them enough to lend another tool or more money? If the answer is yes then you're correct to honor your commitment. But eventually you'll say no more and it's time to take people to account.
 

Angra Mainyu

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fast said:
I don’t think it matters, and the reason I don’t think it matters is precisely because it’s a hypothetical scenario. If the information wasn’t given, it shouldn’t be assumed, and it shouldn’t be considered. It’s a straight-up, no hidden truths situation, and though in real life I can appreciate that a promise under duress or threat might not allow for the creation of a moral obligation, I don’t see how this hypothetical can be considered so unrealistic. For you or I maybe, but there are people who don’t thoroughly analyze their friendships.
When we consider hypothetical scenarios (or real ones, for that matter), what we have is actually an under-determined picture, not a full scenario. Our information is always incomplete. In order to make moral assessments, at least we need to have all of the morally relevant information, or enough so that the margin of error is very small.
In this particular scenario, I do not have anything like that. The scenario remains underdetermined in ways that are morally relevant.

As to how realistic the hypothetical is, I have to say it is for me. There is absolutely no way I would be in one of those situations, barring some extremely improbable events. I would need more information about those events in order to make an assessment.



fast said:
Let’s say a group of people work together, and one is a female who loves the saying “the struggle is real.” There’s a guy she works with; he’s her go-to guy when her struggles surface. She borrows $20 or $40 from him, and like always, she pays him back. They’ve known each other for a decade. They cut up, laugh, and occasionally play. They’ll buy each other lunch once in a while, and although it might be a little whopsided as to who buys more often than not, no one feels taken advantage of. Although she has borrowed as high as $400 in the past, he’s always been paid back. The most he’s ever borrowed was just enough to cover a lunch; either way, in the end, the books are balanced. No one gets stiffed.

A time comes where she gets her taxes back, and though it’s a great opportunity to repay the $100, her reality has some rather pressing struggles; the guy, at the time, just so happens to have an emergency and in need of a couple hundred bucks, and she realizes that because they share their stories. She offers to lend him $200 but expresses the need that she get it all back because of her single mom struggles. Nothing is said or brought up about the unpaid $100 to him; they both know and neither have forgotten.
That's much better. It's a lot more information. But why is the unpaid debt not even mentioned, even though he has an emergency?
Anyway, given what you're saying, it seems to me that he very probably should pay. To be clear, I'm assessing what he should do, not what I should do. I would not be that person (he is very, very different from me). I'm trying to fill in the gaps as to how their relationship happens, but at least I can do that because of all of the background information you gave now but had not given before. I was not able to make even a "very probable" assessment before.

fast said:
When it comes time for him to pay, he does not all of a sudden utilize this opportunity to HAVE A DISCUSSION. Despite having gone without the $100 that she’ll get around to paying, he decides to keep his word and honor his agreement—which in the eyes of some is stupid since he has the opportunity to fuck her over by using the most inopportune time to balance the books and reassess whatever lopsidedness may exist in this perhaps less than desirable friendship according to others and their armchair thinking.
Now you have added a lot more information about those people, so at least I can make a "very probable" assessment.

fast said:
If you borrow my rake and don’t immediately return it, I’m still going to return the shovel I borrowed. That’s the right thing to do. Money shouldn’t make things different. If I say I’m going to return the $200 I borrowed, there should be absolutely no room for calculating or discussions. If I want my $100 back, I might bring it up, but the $200 will be returned first, and the topic won’t be had until much later, if ever.
No, that depends on the situation.
 

fast

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The world is far from ideal. The fact that they didn't honor their commitment should be reflected in the level of trust you put in them going forward.
That makes sense. If I loan money and don’t get it back, that should be a red flag should I decide to lend again. But remember, this scenario is flipped around. For simplicities sake, let’s say the original agreement is between a man and a woman where the woman is the borrower. The second agreement is the other way around where the man is the borrower. What you’re saying is good advice should the man be contemplating being the lender.

If the person didn't yet return the rake or the $100 would you trust them enough to lend another tool or more money?

Again, this is flipped. Let’s say I borrow the rake from you. You are the lender, and you ask that I have it back to you by the weekend because you’ll be needing it. I, as the borrower, agree to have it back to you by the weekend.

Weekend comes and guess what, I have not done as I said I would. Hell, two months later, I still have it. I know it; you know it;

You are now in need of a shovel, and this time, you take on the role, not as a repeat lender, but instead this time, you’re the borrower. I explain to you that i’ll need it back by the weekend because I’ll be needing it.

Yes, you could have rubbed it in my face that I never returned the rake, but you don’t. If there was ever a time to start holding me to account, it should have been BEFORE any agreement on YOUR part.

Now, the weekend has come. What are you going to do? Are you going to walk over, shovel in hand, and say, we need to talk? Are you going to start jogging my memory? Withhold the shovel? You may decide that I’m a piece of shit for not returning the rake and swear to never lend to me again, but as a borrower, who has given your word, you should do exactly what it is you said you would and return the shovel, regardless of the circumstances with the rake.

As a lender, your part was done after lending the rake. As a borrower, your part isn’t done until after returning the shovel. You can decide to do what’s right in light of any wrongs others have committed.

It’s the same with money. You lent me $100. After having gone unpaid, you borrowed $200 from me. My wrong doesn’t dissolve your obligation. If you hand me $100 and say we’re even, it may feel right, but it isn’t. You are obligated to repay the $200, and if you don’t, what you’re doing is wrong. Smart, maybe, but that’s the other issue that’s not really being touched on.
 

Treedbear

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As a lender, your part was done after lending the rake. As a borrower, your part isn’t done until after returning the shovel. You can decide to do what’s right in light of any wrongs others have committed.
...

By willfully not returning your rake or money they have established (per Kantian categorical imperative) that they don't believe either of you have the moral obligation to return the other's property at the agreed upon time. If you don't see that then you have no reason to stop lending things to them. That would be immoral.
 

Angra Mainyu

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fast said:
Again, this is flipped. Let’s say I borrow the rake from you. You are the lender, and you ask that I have it back to you by the weekend because you’ll be needing it. I, as the borrower, agree to have it back to you by the weekend.

Weekend comes and guess what, I have not done as I said I would. Hell, two months later, I still have it. I know it; you know it;
But why do you think Treedbear would not say anything?

fast said:
You are now in need of a shovel, and this time, you take on the role, not as a repeat lender, but instead this time, you’re the borrower. I explain to you that i’ll need it back by the weekend because I’ll be needing it.
There is no way I would borrow the shovel from you, except extremely improbable situations. Maybe Treedbear would, but not without telling you first something like "I would need my rake back, and I want to borrow your shovel". Who knows? The behavior is very weird without some very unusual circumstances.

fast said:
Yes, you could have rubbed it in my face that I never returned the rake, but you don’t. If there was ever a time to start holding me to account, it should have been BEFORE any agreement on YOUR part.
But why did Treedbear not do that?
And yes, it matters why. If there was some sort of duress, the situation changes. And it's very unusual to do that. And it's even more unusual with money.

fast said:
It’s the same with money.
It's not the same with money. Money is fungible. That makes the situation even weirder, as far as I can tell. But of course, as long as you give more details, you can settle it in the direction you want.
 

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When we consider hypothetical scenarios (or real ones, for that matter), what we have is actually an under-determined picture, not a full scenario. Our information is always incomplete. In order to make moral assessments, at least we need to have all of the morally relevant information, or enough so that the margin of error is very small.
I need to think about that some more.

But why is the unpaid debt not even mentioned, even though he has an emergency?
You really think that’s important, don’t you!

I’m trying to think of scenarios that would alter your train of thought. Unless the actual first agreement matters, any scenario I conjure should make the promise an obligation. So, things like duress, threat, or extreme circumstances are not apart of this.

How about, the importance of the emergency stands alone. If all the borrower needs is the problem solved or the money to solve the problem, that it partially comes from unpaid debt seems (at least to me) to have no bearing on doing what is said will be done.

How about fear? If it’s important, being especially tactful might be in order to reduce the risk of being paid back with no immediate solution to the problem. For example, “hey, I have this problem, and I need $200 to solve it. Could you pay me back and lend me a $100?” ... followed by the original borrower getting ticked off for my bringing it up and either A) repaying the debt and leaving me to retain my problem or B) I don’t have it right now.

If I choose not to bring it up out of fear and make the promise to pay it back, am I in the clear when I later say, I lied?
 

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Fungible?

I’m not saying there is not a difference between a rake and money. What is the same is the obligation to pay back what was promised, be it a rake or money.

You seem to be quite cognizant of the idea that there are always exceptions and thus it’s risky to say there is an obligation when there could be exclusionary reasons for why in this particular instance there is no obligation. It’s like asking if killing is wrong. Well yes, generally, killing is wrong. It not being wrong is an exception. For instance, an officer killing to save the life of another.

I don’t want you to flat out assume it’s obligatory in my scenario to keep a promise, as I do leave room for an exception, but unless you can tie the first agreement in as morally relevant, the next issue isn’t whether paying back what is owed is morally obligatory but colloquially stupid.
 

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fast said:
You really think that’s important, don’t you!
That might depend on the reason it was not mentioned. The way you put it, it seems he will have an obligation anyway - probably. But I'm asking why because of how unusual their behavior looks to me. I would want to understand why she behaves like that, and why he tolerates that sort of behavior.


fast said:
I’m trying to think of scenarios that would alter your train of thought. Unless the actual first agreement matters, any scenario I conjure should make the promise an obligation. So, things like duress, threat, or extreme circumstances are not apart of this.
I'm not sure I follow. But the way she is treating him matters. Duress might be coming from her. The very unusual behavior raises red flags for me.

fast said:
How about, the importance of the emergency stands alone. If all the borrower needs is the problem solved or the money to solve the problem, that it partially comes from unpaid debt seems (at least to me) to have no bearing on doing what is said will be done.
But the reason he might not mention it may well be her immoral behavior, if there is a pattern. Maybe she never returns any money when a creditor asks for the money back. Maybe he knows that, and she knows he knows. Maybe he is in dire need of money, in a life or death situation, and she knows it.

fast said:
How about fear? If it’s important, being especially tactful might be in order to reduce the risk of being paid back with no immediate solution to the problem. For example, “hey, I have this problem, and I need $200 to solve it. Could you pay me back and lend me a $100?” ... followed by the original borrower getting ticked off for my bringing it up and either A) repaying the debt and leaving me to retain my problem or B) I don’t have it right now.

If I choose not to bring it up out of fear and make the promise to pay it back, am I in the clear when I later say, I lied?
Suppose she never returns any money when asked. They both know it. Suppose further that a criminal threatens to kill him within 24 hours for failing to pay "protection" - which she knows. He fears for his life, and she has not given the money back. Suppose another person has asked her for the money back. Because she was asked, she refused (she always refuses when asked, but the other person did not know it), even though she has more than enough money. The other person was unable to get any money for "protection", and got murdered. Does the second lender have an obligation to give the $200 back within a week, even if he needs the $100 for something else (like, buying a ticket to run from that place?).

Again, this is all very improbable. Your scenario looks like he very probably has an obligation. But their behavior looks unusual to me as well, so I wanted more information.

fast said:
If I choose ot to bring it up out of fear and make the promise to pay it back, am I in the clear when I later say, I lied?
I think he's probably (given that information) in the clear when he uses the money to get out of there, and later sends her the money (the $100). Of course, this is different because of the duress, etc., but my point is that that sort of thing is relevant, and I was asking why their behavior had been as it was because it seems difficult for me to relate. But for others, it may well be common, so it depends on their relation. In the situation you described, I agree that very probably he should pay back.
 
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Angra Mainyu

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Fungible?

I’m not saying there is not a difference between a rake and money. What is the same is the obligation to pay back what was promised, be it a rake or money.
I know you did not say that. In the case of a rake, what is promised it to give back that particular rake. With money, it's a certain amount, not the specific object. It makes the compensation much more natural, and the behavior weirder.

fast said:
You seem to be quite cognizant of the idea that there are always exceptions and thus it’s risky to say there is an obligation when there could be exclusionary reasons for why in this particular instance there is no obligation. It’s like asking if killing is wrong. Well yes, generally, killing is wrong. It not being wrong is an exception. For instance, an officer killing to save the life of another.
Yes, it generally is wrong. But when you assume an extremely unusual scenario, then it's more difficult to say "it was wrong" without further info.

fast said:
I don’t want you to flat out assume it’s obligatory in my scenario to keep a promise, as I do leave room for an exception, but unless you can tie the first agreement in as morally relevant, the next issue isn’t whether paying back what is owed is morally obligatory but colloquially stupid.
The same agreement is relevant in the sense it makes the second unusual, so it makes it more difficult to make an assessment as to whether paying back is obligatory.

But still, if you want me to tie them, how about this:
[after a week]
She: I want my $200 back, as you promised.
He: Give me a minute, and I will transfer them to you. I also want my $100 back, as you promised months ago.
She: I choose not live up to my promise. I choose to break my obligation to you, and choose not give you the $100 back. Maybe I will change my mind some day. Now, transfer the $200 back to me.

Should he give her the $200 back?

Of course, it may well be - given the way you describe the scenario -, that they implicitly agreed to cancel the other obligation, or leave it unpaid indefinitely until she has more money. I actually believe that the way you describe the scenario, he very probably should pay. But is it because the original obligation does not matter at all? Or is it because it's been implicitly agreed to leave it aside, at least for the foreseeable future if not for good?

Then again, maybe in cases like the ones you described, usually there is an implicit clause to put the previous obligation aside (canceling it or extending the term indefinitely), and I just hadn't considered because of the difficulty I have relating to that situation.
 

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fast,

How about this?
[a week later]

He: I'll give you your $200 back. But I also want my $100 back.
She: No. I choose to break my promise. Now, keep yours, and give me the $200 back.

Should he pay?
I think it is not the case he should.

But the following might work (depending on circumstances):


He: I'll give you your $200 back. But I also want my $100 back.
She: No. You promised to give the $200 back within a week, and said nothing of the $100. Implicitly, you agreed to cancel that debt, or at least give me time until I chose to pay. But I want the $200 now, as agreed.

I think that he should very probably pay. So, yes, that works. It's not that the original obligation doesn't matter, but rather, there's an implicit change to it in most such cases - well, perhaps. I'm not familiar enough with such cases to be sure.
 

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fast,

How about this?
[a week later]

He: I'll give you your $200 back. But I also want my $100 back.
She: No. I choose to break my promise. Now, keep yours, and give me the $200 back.

Should he pay?
I think it is not the case he should.
I say he should.

First (and unrelated), there is no implicit anything about debt forgiveness somehow implicitly being a function of not rehashing an agreement already made.

Second, we each have our own moral compass, and the idea I’m expounding on is that I should not wrong you just because you have wronged me.

It’s unfortunate that my scenario is so unusual to you, and I admit it seems to have an air of unfairness about it, but excluding all those unspoken things like duress and threats that disallow a promise to be an obligation, I say a person should (morally speaking) stand tall to do the right thing despite the wrongs others might have committed.

Unless you have more than an excuse but in fact a damned good reason not to, you should keep your word, even in peculiar situations that you cannot relate to or ordinarily get yourself into but did. If I tell you that I’m going to repay you, I don’t give a damn what others might do. I don’t even care what you might do if the situation is reversed. I don’t care if I come out on the losing end, but the one thing you can bank on is that the $200 would be repaid by the time I said it would.

Either
A) I have the moral obligation to do what I think I have the moral obligation to do—and I’m a dumb ass
B) I don’t have the moral obligation to do what I think I have the moral obligation to do—and I’m still a dumb ass

C) I have the moral obligation to do what I think I have the moral obligation to do—and I’m not a dumb ass
D) I don’t have the moral obligation to do what I think I have the moral obligation to do—and I’m still not a dumb ass
 

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fast said:
I say he should.
I admit that that is not the answer I was expecting. I do not think there is much room for agreement on this.

fast said:
First (and unrelated), there is no implicit anything about debt forgiveness somehow implicitly being a function of not rehashing an agreement already made.
I think there are a lot of implicit agreements involved in a long-term relationship, and either forgiving the debt or allowing it to be paid with no term might be the most frequent case in the sort of scenario you have in mind. I admit this is tentative, since I'm not familiar with that sort of situation. But if there is such an implicit agreement, then he should (usually) pay, though not in the case in which she says she chooses to break her agreement.

fast said:
Second, we each have our own moral compass, and the idea I’m expounding on is that I should not wrong you just because you have wronged me.
I actually agree with that of course. It is even tautological that you should not wrong anyone (in the moral sense of "should"). Our disagreement is about whether not paying in some situations would be wrong. But I'm willing to accept you may well be correct in most cases, even if not for the right reasons but for an implicit change in the agreement.

fast said:
It’s unfortunate that my scenario is so unusual to you, and I admit it seems to have an air of unfairness about it, but excluding all those unspoken things like duress and threats that disallow a promise to be an obligation, I say a person should (morally speaking) stand tall to do the right thing despite the wrongs others might have committed.
Of course, if "do the right thing" means 'do what is morally obligatory', it is tautological that he should do it, in the moral sense of 'should'. Our disagreement is this:


He: I'll give you your $200 back. But I also want my $100 back.
She: No. I choose to break my promise. Now, keep yours, and give me the $200 back.
I think he has no moral obligation to pay $200 (probably!; it also depends on the circumstances).
 

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He: I'll give you your $200 back. But I also want my $100 back.
She: No. I choose to break my promise. Now, keep yours, and give me the $200 back.
[/indent]
I think he has no moral obligation to pay $200 (probably!; it also depends on the circumstances).

When I said “tie them together”, I didn’t mean commingle them; keep in mind there are two agreements. What I don’t see (and no implicit jive allowed) is how her failure to honor agreement #1 influences his moral obligation to honor his part of agreement #2.


Jan1:
Her: if you do A, I’ll do B. (If you lend me $100, i’ll pay you back next Friday)
Him: make sure you pay it back next Friday
Her: will do
Him: here ya go (he hands her $100)


Jan8:
Her: (crickets) she doesn’t bring it up
Him: (crickets) neither does he

Feb 1:
Her: I haven’t forgot about the money I owe ya
Him: I’m glad, but neither forgetfullness nor the greatest of memory pays the bills.
Her: hey, did you see that new movie on Netflix?
Him: yeah, it was awesome :)
Her: I liked the part where ...

Feb 15:
Her: I had the money to pay ya back but I bought these earrings, but i will pay ya, I promise
Him: if ya don’t, i’ll kill your cat and feed it to atheists
Her: that’s mean. So, are they pretty (pointing to earings)?
Him: they’re so cute!! Pay me back soon, please.
Her: okay, will do

Mar 1:
Him: OMG, my alternator is busted and I need $200 bad
Her: hey, I just got my taxes back, but it’s all been allocated out, but I tell ya what, I can lend you $200 to fix the old contraption, but I just gotta have it all back by Friday.
Him: thank you, you can count on me
Her: I know I can

Mar 7:
Her: remember the January 1 agreement?
Him: yes, it’s where I loaned you $100 and you never paid me back.
Her: about that; I have no intentions of paying you back
Him: why? Because I slept with your sister? That’s not a good reason not to pay me what you owe me.

Mar8:
Your advice: balance the books while you can; you tell him to take it upon hisself to square up by repaying the net difference ($100) between the two agreements.

My advice (while wearing the ‘morality rules’ hat): treat each agreement as separate. You need to fulfill your part of your agreements irrespective of being shiested. If you lose $100, it’ll be because she wouldn’t live up to her word, not because you didn’t live up to yours.
 

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fast said:
Mar 7:
Her: remember the January 1 agreement?
Him: yes, it’s where I loaned you $100 and you never paid me back.
Her: about that; I have no intentions of paying you back
Him: why? Because I slept with your sister? That’s not a good reason not to pay me what you owe me.

Mar8:
Your advice: balance the books while you can; you tell him to take it upon hisself to square up by repaying the net difference ($100) between the two agreements.
Not my advice. I said it depends on the situation. In this case, she's not paying him back because he had sex with her sister. That may well be a good reason. It depends on the circumsstances! (Were the two in a committed relationship? Is the sister too young? etc.).
But now consider:


Mar 7:
He: I'm going to pay you your $200 back. But I also want my $100 back. When are you going to pay me?
She: I'm not going to. But I need the $200 back, and you agreed on March 1 to give them back, knowing that I needed them.
He: Yes, alright, I'm paying you back. I agreed to pay you back, and in doing so, I implicitly gave you more time for the $100. But I just wanted to know, because you agreed to pay me back the $100 long ago. I get that you do not have them now. That is why I agreed to pay you back on March 7 (Friday), since you need them for some reason.
She: No, I mean, I'm not paying you back at all. It's not that I really need the $100. I only need $100. But you agreed to pay $200, so you have an obligation to pay $200.
He: But if you can pay $100, you have an obligation to pay $100 as well.
She: Sure, but I will not pay you.
He: Why?
She: Because I do not want to. I prefer to keep the $100.
He: So, okay, you will pay me later, because I implicitly gave you more time?
She: No, I will never pay you.
He: But you promised.
She: Yes, but I choose to break my promise, so that I keep $100. Think what you want, but you have an obligation to pay me $200.

My advice to him: You do not have an obligation to pay more than $100, at least on the basis of what I know about your situation.

As usual, it depends on the case!
 

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fast said:
Mar 7:
Her: remember the January 1 agreement?
Him: yes, it’s where I loaned you $100 and you never paid me back.
Her: about that; I have no intentions of paying you back
Him: why? Because I slept with your sister? That’s not a good reason not to pay me what you owe me.

Mar8:
Your advice: balance the books while you can; you tell him to take it upon hisself to square up by repaying the net difference ($100) between the two agreements.
Not my advice. I said it depends on the situation. In this case, she's not paying him back because he had sex with her sister. That may well be a good reason. It depends on the circumsstances! (Were the two in a committed relationship? Is the sister too young? etc.).
But now consider:


Mar 7:
He: I'm going to pay you your $200 back. But I also want my $100 back. When are you going to pay me?
She: I'm not going to. But I need the $200 back, and you agreed on March 1 to give them back, knowing that I needed them.
He: Yes, alright, I'm paying you back. I agreed to pay you back, and in doing so, I implicitly gave you more time for the $100. But I just wanted to know, because you agreed to pay me back the $100 long ago. I get that you do not have them now. That is why I agreed to pay you back on March 7 (Friday), since you need them for some reason.
She: No, I mean, I'm not paying you back at all. It's not that I really need the $100. I only need $100. But you agreed to pay $200, so you have an obligation to pay $200.
He: But if you can pay $100, you have an obligation to pay $100 as well.
She: Sure, but I will not pay you.
He: Why?
She: Because I do not want to. I prefer to keep the $100.
He: So, okay, you will pay me later, because I implicitly gave you more time?
She: No, I will never pay you.
He: But you promised.
She: Yes, but I choose to break my promise, so that I keep $100. Think what you want, but you have an obligation to pay me $200.

My advice to him: You do not have an obligation to pay more than $100, at least on the basis of what I know about your situation.

As usual, it depends on the case!

He didn’t GIVE her more time. The time came (and then went). She can NEVER follow through like she said she would. The best she can do is pay him back (or that, some interest and a hug), but the deadline has come and gone! Saying he gave her added time is pleasant to the ear; it has a nice ring to it, but her chance at fully living up to her word is buried in the past.

There is something [he] said that has greatly captured my attention: I find it mightily deceitful and underhanded that he would say, “that is why I agreed to pay [her] back.” I expect parties to be bound by what is explicitly said. It’s mighty convenient that when he stands to lose, that WHY he supposedly agreed, all of a sudden matters. If it mattered so much, maybe it should have been spelt out. I call these two separate agreements independent for a reason. One has nothing to do with the other.

If I agree to pay contingent upon (oh say) services being rendered and services aren’t rendered, then I didn’t make a pure non contingent promise. The scenario calls for being taken as is, where what is specifically and explicitly said is what is being held for everyone to account.

Now, all of a sudden, fuzzy words like “tacit” and “implicit” are sprouting about. Reminds me of threads on tipping. No one said anything about what might have been in the back of their minds. This is the doorway to justifying immoral behavior. No one cares nor should care about what was residing in the dark recesses of his mind. If it’s not apart of the program with zeros and ones, a computer is not going to consider it. Since his expectation is at best a product of self-produced thought, maybe there is less to analyze than we might prefer.
 

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fast said:
He didn’t GIVE her more time. The time came (and then went). She can NEVER follow through like she said she would. The best she can do is pay him back (or that, some interest and a hug), but the deadline has come and gone! Saying he gave her added time is pleasant to the ear; it has a nice ring to it, but her chance at fully living up to her word is buried in the past.
Those are two different things. She already broke her promise in the past. That happened already, and that would be the case regardless of whether he later gave her more time, whether explicitly or implicitly.
As to whether he implicitly gave her more time, again, that depends on the specifics of their relationship, but after thinking more about the matter, I'm thinking that, in such odd cases, that usually happens, so I am actually conceding that you are correct that he (probably) should pay back without demanding the $100 first.


fast said:
There is something [he] said that has greatly captured my attention: I find it mightily deceitful and underhanded that he would say, “that is why I agreed to pay [her] back.” I expect parties to be bound by what is explicitly said. It’s mighty convenient that when he stands to lose, that WHY he supposedly agreed, all of a sudden matters. If it mattered so much, maybe it should have been spelt out. I call these two separate agreements independent for a reason. One has nothing to do with the other.
That is not deceitful. I was thinking of a reason for him to agree to pay her back. It's not that his reasons for agreeing were a condition stipulated to pay her back, but that explains the unusual agreement on his part. If you think there was another reason, what was it? Regardless, that is not the issue. So, here goes again:



Mar 9:
He: I'm going to pay you your $200 back. But I also want my $100 back. When are you going to pay me?
She: I'm not going to. But I need the $200 back, and you agreed on March 1 to give them back, knowing that I needed them.
He: Yes, alright, I'm paying you back. I agreed to pay you back, and in doing so, I implicitly gave you more time for the $200. But I just wanted to know, because you agreed to pay me back the $100 long ago. I get that you do not have them now.
She: No, I mean, I'm not paying you back at all. Not now, and not later. It's not that I really need the $100. I only need $100. But you agreed to pay $200, so you have an obligation to pay $200.
He: But if you can pay $100, you have an obligation to pay $100 as well.
She: Sure, but I will not pay you.
He: Why?
She: Because I do not want to. I will keep the $100.
He: So, okay, you will pay me later, because I implicitly gave you more time?
She: No, I will never pay you.
He: But you promised.
She: Yes, but I choose to break my promise, so that I keep $100. Think what you want, but you have an obligation to pay me $200.

My advice to him is the same as before.

fast said:
If I agree to pay contingent upon (oh say) services being rendered and services aren’t rendered, then I didn’t make a pure non contingent promise. The scenario calls for being taken as is, where what is specifically and explicitly said is what is being held for everyone to account.

Now, all of a sudden, fuzzy words like “tacit” and “implicit” are sprouting about. Reminds me of threads on tipping. No one said anything about what might have been in the back of their minds. This is the doorway to justifying immoral behavior. No one cares nor should care about what was residing in the dark reces/uses of his mind. If it’s not apart of the program with zeros and ones, a computer is not going to consider it. Since his expectation is at best a product of self-produced thought, maybe there is less to analyze than we might prefer.
I think we have ourselves a moral disagreement I'm not sure how to get out of. Your sense or right and wrong says he has an obligation to pay. Mine says he does not. The hypothetical scenario was meant to convince you, as your hypothetical scenarios were meant to convince me. It's not working. Fortunately, I will never be in that situation, and neither will you (not even giving advice; the scenario I considered is too improbable to happen), so nothing will come out of the disagreement.

There do not seem to be significant practical consequences, fortunately.
 

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There is no coercion or anything funky going on except that there is a completely and totally separate prior agreement that wasn’t lived up to. Had that original agreement not occurred, I suspect you would have no qualms agreeing that he owes the $200 to her. Even after we go ‘round the mulberry bush and weed out threats, dire circumstances and her favorite ice cream flavor, the very fact alone that he borrowed the money and gave his word to pay it back would suffice for thinking he in fact has a moral obligation to pay it back.

If I would have left out the first agreement and asked if he has a moral obligation to pay it back, you likely would have wanted more information, and had I come back and said he agreed at gunpoint, you would rightfully say that the threat of violence either nullified the obligation or more likely that the threat of violence negated the promise made under duress disallowed an obligation to even form.

Since there is no coercion, duress, threats, disadvantages, incompacities or anything remotely similar going on and just that first agreement (coupled with the idea that maybe he doesn’t have an obligation) goes to show that why you think he has no moral obligation to pay stems not from coercion or the like but rather the first agreement.

That would be called playing tit for tat if you thought it was wrong to not pay and chose not to anyway. I don’t know what to call it when you don’t even think it’s wrong. Why you don’t see it as wrong is what’s troubling me. He wasn’t coerced. He wasn’t threatened. He didn’t stipulate that getting his hundred back was part of the bargain. He did borrow the money. He did say he’d pay it back. He grasps that she needs it. He understood that when he borrowed it. All you have to fall back on is some distant (two months even) and unrelated (one has NOTHING to do with the other) agreement and some sorted details surrounding how the promises ever came to be made in the first place.

If he doesn’t pay her back like he said he would, I don’t think he should be trusted. We already know she can’t keep her word, and ya know what, that’s up to her. How can I justify advising him to not pay after he’s already said he would. He can. He’s able. He’s willing. Sure, I can SAY (speak the words) that he doesn’t have an obligation, but the first agreement was not a factor in his mind when he GAVE HIS WORD.
 

Angra Mainyu

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fast said:
There is no coercion or anything funky going on except that there is a completely and totally separate prior agreement that wasn’t lived up to. Had that original agreement not occurred, I suspect you would have no qualms agreeing that he owes the $200 to her.
You mean, in the scenario I described in this post?
Of course. The whole scenario revolves around the previous agreement. Had there been no previous agreement, she would not be saying she will not honor the previous agreement, so of course I think he should pay her.

fast said:
Even after we go ‘round the mulberry bush and weed out threats, dire circumstances and her favorite ice cream flavor, the very fact alone that he borrowed the money and gave his word to pay it back would suffice for thinking he in fact has a moral obligation to pay it back.
It's one of the scenarios meant to show that this is not so, by appeal to immediate intuition. If you do not see that as immediately clear, the scenario has not worked as intended - which we already know.

On the other hand, if you are talking about other scenarios we have discussed, I'd like to ask which one(s)?

fast said:
Since there is no coercion, duress, threats, disadvantages, incompacities or anything remotely similar going on and just that first agreement (coupled with the idea that maybe he doesn’t have an obligation) goes to show that why you think he has no moral obligation to pay stems not from coercion or the like but rather the first agreement.
No. At first, I was considering that, given the oddity of the situation, maybe something was amiss. But later, in this post, I replied to a previous post of yours in which you said "I don’t want you to flat out assume it’s obligatory in my scenario to keep a promise, as I do leave room for an exception, but unless you can tie the first agreement in as morally relevant, the next issue isn’t whether paying back what is owed is morally obligatory but colloquially stupid.", and said that if you wanted me to tie them, I would do so - and provided a scenario tying them.

The point is that the previous agreement is one among several reasons to be considered. On its own, it does not block the obligation to pay back, as I think that - for example - in such circumstances, there often is an implicit agreement to give her more time.

fast said:
That would be called playing tit for tat if you thought it was wrong to not pay and chose not to anyway. I don’t know what to call it when you don’t even think it’s wrong. Why you don’t see it as wrong is what’s troubling me. He wasn’t coerced. He wasn’t threatened. He didn’t stipulate that getting his hundred back was part of the bargain. He did borrow the money. He did say he’d pay it back. He grasps that she needs it. He understood that when he borrowed it. All you have to fall back on is some distant (two months even) and unrelated (one has NOTHING to do with the other) agreement and some sorted details surrounding how the promises ever came to be made in the first place.
No, she does not need it at all. Recall the scenario I'm considering. She's even telling her she does not need it. What you say "some distant (two months even) and unrelated (one has NOTHING to do with the other) agreement", well, I do not think it's unrelated, but it is distant, in the following sense: personal relationships between people involve implicit agreements and obligations as to how to behave. The fact that he agreed later suggests that he is either condoning the previous debt, or giving her time, implicitly - though one would need more info about the specifics of their relationship to be certain.

Now, when she explicitly says she will not pay because she prefers to keep the money, it seems obvious to me he has no obligation to pay $200. I regret it's troubling to you that I do not see it as wrong. It is troubling to me that you find troubling that I do not see it as wrong. The scenario was meant to be a reductio, so it was meant for you to immediately and intuitively reckon he had no obligation. Obviously, it did not work. How about the following one:

S2: Joe is a plumber and rents a room from Jack. Jack asks Joe to fix the sink on Monday, and tells him he'll pay him $200 the next day, because he does not have cash at hand (say it happened a few decades ago if you like). Joe agrees, and fixes the sink. On Tuesday, Joe is due to pay $300 as rent. Jack asks him to pay.

Joe: I owe you $300 for the rent, but you owe me $200 for the sink, so I pay you $100 and we are even, alright?
Jack: No. I have decided not to pay you for the sink. But you have a moral obligation to pay me $300 for the room.
Joe: But you promised to pay, and I did the job properly. You have a moral obligation to pay me.
Jack: Yes, I have a moral obligation to pay you $200. I choose not to comply with my moral obligation, so that I get an extra $200. Now, will you also behave immorally by failing to pay me $300?
Joe: I only owe you $100. I will pay that, and then leave your room. And I'm not doing anything immoral.

Let's swap roles, so that the person with the earlier obligation fails to comply: .

S3: Joe is a plumber and rents a room from Jack. Jack asks Joe to fix the sink on Monday, and tells him he'll pay him $200 the next day, because he does not have cash at hand (say it happened a few decades ago if you like). Joe agrees, and fixes the sink. On Tuesday, Joe is due to pay $300 as rent. Jack asks him to pay.

Jack: I owe you $200 for the sink, but you owe me $300 for the rent. Will you pay me $100, and we are even?
Joe: No. I have decided not to the rent. But you have a moral obligation to pay me $200 for the sink.
Jack: But you promised to pay the rent, and I did give you the room. You have a moral obligation to pay me.
Joe: Yes, I have a moral obligation to pay you $300 for the room. I choose not to comply with my moral obligation, so that I get an extra $300. Now, will you also behave immorally by failing to pay me $200?
Jack: I owe you nothing. You owe me $100.

Barring legal obligations (that's another matter; there might be a legal obligation that creates a moral obligation), it seems clear to me that Jack has no moral obligation to pay. Do you think he does?
 

steve_bank

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As WC Fields said, never give a sucker an even break.
 

fast

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S2: Joe is a plumber and rents a room from Jack. Jack asks Joe to fix the sink on Monday, and tells him he'll pay him $200 the next day, because he does not have cash at hand (say it happened a few decades ago if you like). Joe agrees, and fixes the sink. On Tuesday, Joe is due to pay $300 as rent. Jack asks him to pay.

Joe: I owe you $300 for the rent, but you owe me $200 for the sink, so I pay you $100 and we are even, alright?
Jack: No. I have decided not to pay you for the sink. But you have a moral obligation to pay me $300 for the room.

I like the way you set this up. The reasoning was “does not have cash at hand.” There’s nothing tying the two separate agreements except that it so happens to be between the same parties; hence, there’s no “i’ll take it off your rent” lingo. It’s as if there are two distinct contracts. Maybe if you didn’t let the fact the same parties are involved in both contracts consume you, you wouldn’t commingle them. There’s no “but”. It’s “and”. There shouldn’t be a “so.” Joe can see the convenience of using a calculator since both of his separate agreements are with the same person, but as soon as Jack said no, he should realize that it was just that, a convenience. He should treat each agreement just as separately as he would had the agreements been with two different people.

Joe: But you promised to pay, and I did the job properly. You have a moral obligation to pay me.
Jack: Yes, I have a moral obligation to pay you $200. I choose not to comply with my moral obligation, so that I get an extra $200. Now, will you also behave immorally by failing to pay me $300?
Joe: I only owe you $100. I will pay that, and then leave your room. And I'm not doing anything immoral.
There’s ole calculator-happy Joe again still swinging those words about, “I only owe you $100.” If a company owes you a referral check yet you owe a bill, there’s a good chance that you’re gonna get a late charge if you fail to pay your entire payment. You don’t pull out the ole calculator and subtract the referral fee from the balance due. Joe owes and is owed, and somebody doesn’t seem to get that. Math doesn’t absolve contracts or agreements.

In one agreement, Joe was supposed to fix the sink. He did, so check (mark).
In another agreement, Joe was supposed to pay rent ($300). He didn’t, so no check.

Joe needs to put the calculator down and review the separate agreements, and it would benefit him greatly to see my point of view if he also closed his eyes to who the agreements are with. He should ask himself, did I do as I said I would do with agreement one and if he did as he said he would with agreement two.

Let's swap roles, so that the person with the earlier obligation fails to comply: .

S3: Joe is a plumber and rents a room from Jack. Jack asks Joe to fix the sink on Monday, and tells him he'll pay him $200 the next day, because he does not have cash at hand (say it happened a few decades ago if you like). Joe agrees, and fixes the sink. On Tuesday, Joe is due to pay $300 as rent. Jack asks him to pay.

Jack: I owe you $200 for the sink, but you owe me $300 for the rent. Will you pay me $100, and we are even?
Joe: No. I have decided not to the rent. But you have a moral obligation to pay me $200 for the sink.
Jack: But you promised to pay the rent, and I did give you the room. You have a moral obligation to pay me.
Joe: Yes, I have a moral obligation to pay you $300 for the room. I choose not to comply with my moral obligation, so that I get an extra $300. Now, will you also behave immorally by failing to pay me $200?
Jack: I owe you nothing. You owe me $100.

So long as one agreement doesn’t tie to the other, meaning, there was no part of one agreement intertwined with the other (e.g. say man, fix my sink and i’ll knock $200 of the rent), then Jack is wrong. Judge the performance of the contracts (or agreements) independently.

Jack owes Joe $200. After all, he agreed to pay Joe for fixing the sink. Rent had nothing to do with that agreement. Recall, it was all about not having the cash at the time. If the agreement regarding the sink was between Joe and Jack’s son while the agreement for rent was between Joe and Jack, we wouldn’t be doing all this subtracting.

When it’s the same person, the agreements must be viewed independently; otherwise, you’ll justify not keeping your word based on other people not keeping theirs. That’s no way to be.

Barring legal obligations (that's another matter; there might be a legal obligation that creates a moral obligation), it seems clear to me that Jack has no moral obligation to pay. Do you think he does?
No moral obligation to pay!? He just got finished telling the man yesterday the only reason for not paying him was because he didn’t have the cash. Now all of sudden, the next day, on a completely unrelated matter, after Joe screws Jack over by refusing to pay $300 rent, Jack justifies his refusal to keep his word on one agreement because of the immoral deeds of another.

If jack had any character about him, was principled, had some ethics about him, and a working moral compass to boot, Jack would teach Joe a lesson about what it means to be honest: pay the SOB just like he said he would; that, and throw his ass out for not paying rent. If I’m Jack, (and if my ‘moral hat’ is on tight—not too tight but snug), he’ll understand that I’m a person of my word, no matter what unscrupulous lad might come my way.
 

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If it is the moral duty for a borrower to repay their loan within a reasonable time frame, not doing so without explanation to the lender means that the borrower fails to meet their moral obligation, creating stress for the lender, thereby straining whatever relationship there may be between the two parties.
 

Angra Mainyu

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fast said:
I like the way you set this up. The reasoning was “does not have cash at hand.” There’s nothing tying the two separate agreements except that it so happens to be between the same parties; hence, there’s no “i’ll take it off your rent” lingo. It’s as if there are two distinct contracts. Maybe if you didn’t let the fact the same parties are involved in both contracts consume you, you wouldn’t commingle them. There’s no “but”. It’s “and”. There shouldn’t be a “so.” Joe can see the convenience of using a calculator since both of his separate agreements are with the same person, but as soon as Jack said no, he should realize that it was just that, a convenience. He should treat each agreement just as separately as he would had the agreements been with two different people.
The "hence" does not seem to follow, though he did not use the expression “i’ll take it off your rent”. The fact is that Jack did not just say "no". If he had, then he could have given after that a different argument, evidence, etc. But Jack made it clear he was breaking his moral obligation. Again, it was meant to get an immediate assessment from you that Joe did not have a moral obligation to pay here. I guess we are at an impasse - it's looking more and more as a fundamental moral disagreement. Those aren't so easy to find, but sometimes, they happen.

fast said:
There’s ole calculator-happy Joe again still swinging those words about, “I only owe you $100.” If a company owes you a referral check yet you owe a bill, there’s a good chance that you’re gonna get a late charge if you fail to pay your entire payment.
Yes, there is a good chance of that. It's different with a company in that situation, where no one is making a decision to break their moral obligations, and also, there are legal regulations in place, etc.

fast said:
You don’t pull out the ole calculator and subtract the referral fee from the balance due. Joe owes and is owed, and somebody doesn’t seem to get that. Math doesn’t absolve contracts or agreements.

In one agreement, Joe was supposed to fix the sink. He did, so check (mark).
In another agreement, Joe was supposed to pay rent ($300). He didn’t, so no check.

Joe needs to put the calculator down and review the separate agreements, and it would benefit him greatly to see my point of view if he also closed his eyes to who the agreements are with. He should ask himself, did I do as I said I would do with agreement one and if he did as he said he would with agreement two.
He would be losing valuable information if he closed his eyes to whom the agreemetns were with. In human relations, we keep an intuitive track of obligations in the long term. It would not benefit Joe to reject what is obvious to his moral sense. So, we disagree.

fast said:
So long as one agreement doesn’t tie to the other, meaning, there was no part of one agreement intertwined with the other (e.g. say man, fix my sink and i’ll knock $200 of the rent), then Jack is wrong. Judge the performance of the contracts (or agreements) independently.
It seems fundamental, yes. My scenarios are meant to debunk your claim that one has to judge the contracts or agreements independently, by means of counterexample. It's not working because you insist on that, instead of reckoning they are in fact counterexamples. There might be something else I'm not seeing and that prompts your judgment, but so far, I haven't found it, so it seems like a raw clash (i.e., your moral sense and mine just disagree, and there is no way around that).

fast said:
Jack owes Joe $200. After all, he agreed to pay Joe for fixing the sink. Rent had nothing to do with that agreement. Recall, it was all about not having the cash at the time. If the agreement regarding the sink was between Joe and Jack’s son while the agreement for rent was between Joe and Jack, we wouldn’t be doing all this subtracting.

When it’s the same person, the agreements must be viewed independently; otherwise, you’ll justify not keeping your word based on other people not keeping theirs. That’s no way to be.
You keep making that argument. Okay, I get that you believe that. But that Joe (and Jack) are not on the wrong by not paying when the other party has made it clear they're going to break their own moral obligation is obvious to me. That's the very reason I came up with the scenarios, hoping it would look obvious to you as well. My assessment is of course that whether it's justified not keeping one's word to a person who is not keeping theirs depends on the circumstances, including factors such as why they fail to keep their word. I make that assessment precisely on the basis of counterexamples such as the ones I present.

fast said:
No moral obligation to pay!? He just got finished telling the man yesterday the only reason for not paying him was because he didn’t have the cash. Now all of sudden, the next day, on a completely unrelated matter, after Joe screws Jack over by refusing to pay $300 rent, Jack justifies his refusal to keep his word on one agreement because of the immoral deeds of another.
And the reason was that he did not have the cash. Now not "all of a sudden", but after the other person made it clear that he was choosing to break his moral obligation in order to get an extra $300(!), he reasonably chooses not to pay.

fast said:
If jack had any character about him, was principled, had some ethics about him, and a working moral compass to boot, Jack would teach Joe a lesson about what it means to be honest: pay the SOB just like he said he would; that, and throw his ass out for not paying rent. If I’m Jack, (and if my ‘moral hat’ is on tight—not too tight but snug), he’ll understand that I’m a person of my word, no matter what unscrupulous lad might come my way.
Well, of course I disagree. The claim "was principled" is obscure, but I think it's proper to assess morality on a case by case basis, using one's sense of right and wrong, rather than adhering to general moral theories (the "principles") that are unwarranted (as they have not been properly tested), or worse, tested as false. But here the disagreement between us seems to be about working moral compass part. Clearly, one is not working properly. We disagree about which one. But it seems it's a disagreement with no solution. It has no practical consequences, though, other than perhaps getting into an argument on line. It's not as if the cases will actually happen to either of us, either as parties or as advisers (too unrealistic for that).
 

Angra Mainyu

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fast said:
I think some may hold that it wouldn’t be wrong to pay back only the $100, but for those that think it is actually wrong but also thinks it’s stupid, if they are right, it would be stupid to do what’s right.

Any thoughts?
I think it would not be stupid to act according to one's sense of right and wrong. In fact, it would be rational and good for your well being, except for some unusual cases among the already unusual ones. On the other hand, for someone whose sense of right and wrong agrees with mine, paying when they reckon they have no obligation to pay would seem only rational if they have some other (i.e., non-moral reason). Otherwise, they would seem to be doing something completely without reason (e.g., if Joe reckons he has no moral obligation to pay Jack, and has no non-moral reason, then it would be puzzling if he were to pay Jack. It would appear like an action with no reason whatsoever. I don't think "stupid" would describe it, though. It would just be...inexplicable, not in accordance with human psychology, alien, or something like that).

But given your moral assessment, it would not be stupid on your part to always pay, even if the other party is laughing at you and telling you they're breaking their moral obligations so that get extra money. In fact, it's better for you to pay some money (an amount that is small to you) than feel guilty after doing something your sense of right and wrong reckons is wrong, and not due to a misconstruction of the situation. Given the improbability of situations like that (obviously, the bad guys don't just laugh in your face when they want you to willingly give them money), this is not a practical issue. In at least nearly all and maybe all real cases (where we have a lot more information about the situation, which we intuitively grasp), I suspect we would probably not disagree, and we would both get the morality right.
 
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