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    Griffon

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    Default Can you cheat a friend?

    I was thinking about song lyrics (earworm, I don't seem to have a choice), and I thought, if you cheat someone, were you ever their friend?
    The end of what Son? The story? There is no end. There's just the point where the storytellers stop talking.

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    BlackDragon

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    Default Re: Can you cheat a friend?

    Wham! lyrics aside, of course you could have been? I wouldn't say you're really a friend when you're in the process of cheating them, but that doesn't mean you weren't a genuine friend up until that point.

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    Default Re: Can you cheat a friend?

    This seems like an odd rhetorical question to ask. Cheating is essentially selfish in nature, it basically implies you put your own satisfaction/needs before someone else's when you agreed not to. If friends were people you always put before you no matter the circumstances none of us would have friends.
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    Default Re: Can you cheat a friend?

    Quote Originally Posted by factotum View Post
    Wham! lyrics aside, of course you could have been? I wouldn't say you're really a friend when you're in the process of cheating them, but that doesn't mean you weren't a genuine friend up until that point.
    I may have expressed that poorly, are you now an ex-friend?

    Quote Originally Posted by Tvtyrant View Post
    This seems like an odd rhetorical question to ask. Cheating is essentially selfish in nature, it basically implies you put your own satisfaction/needs before someone else's when you agreed not to. If friends were people you always put before you no matter the circumstances none of us would have friends.
    I don't think that's right. It seems to me you could avoid making promises to put your self interest behind the interests of someone else.
    Last edited by halfeye; 2019-01-17 at 03:30 PM.
    The end of what Son? The story? There is no end. There's just the point where the storytellers stop talking.

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    Default Re: Can you cheat a friend?

    Is "friend" a descriptor of activity or emotion? Is the term unilateral or bilateral? Can I be friends with you when you're not friends with me? How do you know who your friends are? How do your friends know you consider them one?

    I would even argue that there are circumstances where cheating on someone is the most compassionate of available options, and is deeply considerate of the partner's needs.

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    BardGuy

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    Default Re: Can you cheat a friend?

    This brings in the question of what it means to be a friend. And perhaps some level of 'cheating'.

    If I have a good friend, but eat more than my share of the pizza we got as a group, did I cheat him out of his share and thus am not a friend? Or at least a good friend? I think it's not that black-and-white. Though I could say that the cheating (minor though it may be) does show me, to some degree, to not be a good friend. Insofar as I let my selfishness impinge on him or exploit him.

    So perhaps, if the sole reason for friendship is a selfish exploitation, then you're not really a friend. Maybe it's some sort of co-dependent mutual selfish exploitation, e.g., yeah, you're using him, but he's using you, and you both agree to it. Is that friendship?

    This seems like a subject it'd be fun to try to go into semantics, nuances, and philosophical ramblings, but I gotta run at the moment.

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    Default Re: Can you cheat a friend?

    Quote Originally Posted by JeenLeen View Post
    This brings in the question of what it means to be a friend. And perhaps some level of 'cheating'.

    If I have a good friend, but eat more than my share of the pizza we got as a group, did I cheat him out of his share and thus am not a friend? Or at least a good friend?
    For me, the definition of cheating has to include breaking of rules or trust, at some point. So if you and your friend have an agreement (maybe an unspoken one) that you get to eat more of the pizza (maybe you're a growing boy and he's on a diet), it's not cheating. If you agreed beforehand "everyone gets one slice" and then you eat half of his while he's not looking, then yeah, that's not very nice.
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    Default Re: Can you cheat a friend?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ninja_Prawn View Post
    For me, the definition of cheating has to include breaking of rules or trust, at some point. So if you and your friend have an agreement (maybe an unspoken one) that you get to eat more of the pizza (maybe you're a growing boy and he's on a diet), it's not cheating. If you agreed beforehand "everyone gets one slice" and then you eat half of his while he's not looking, then yeah, that's not very nice.
    And similarly Poker,has an element of legitimate 'cheating' (although there is the potential for it to go be a bit ambigious). Which I think potentially leave some options for debate as you move into more mundane situations.

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    Default Re: Can you cheat a friend?

    An interesting exercise in rhetoric. I'd argue that you need that element of trust to be able to cheat someone in the first place.

    Hating your neighbor, in the other hand, is pretty straightforward.

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    Ettin in the Playground
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    Default Re: Can you cheat a friend?

    *Shrugs*

    Friendship is one of those concepts that are getting quite inflated and burdened with additional meaning over the time (similar to the words of and concepts behind love and hate). It describes your level of relationship and possible commitment to another person, expecting more than that is foolish.

    When it comers to Careless Whispers, I really prefer the cover version by Seether over the original.

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    Default Re: Can you cheat a friend?

    Cheat how? In a party game? If everyone is close enough friends and it's more or less accepted y the local social contract, that can be entirely acceptable. Cheat them out of money? See you in court.

    There's a spectrum here.
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    Default Re: Can you cheat a friend?


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    Default Re: Can you cheat a friend?

    Quote Originally Posted by halfeye View Post
    I don't think that's right. It seems to me you could avoid making promises to put your self interest behind the interests of someone else.
    Then you wouldn't be friends. If you won't provide a definition of friendship you don't get to criticize mine :p
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    Default Re: Can you cheat a friend?

    If you can provide a definition of "chest", and one of "friend", then your question will answer itself.

    If you can't provide these, then what you're really asking for is those definitions.

    Personally I would endorse the line that relationships are complicated and it doesn't make much sense to make dogmatic statements about such things.
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    Default Re: Can you cheat a friend?

    Quote Originally Posted by veti View Post
    If you can provide a definition of "chest",
    A wooden box, or, the pectoral area of the body?

    Oh wait.
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    Default Re: Can you cheat a friend?

    Of course you can cheat a friend; we all have that mooch of a friend who never buys a round but is so funny you keep him around anyway. Or think Barney from "How I met you Mother".

    In "Careless Whisper" he uses the term friend my like "best friend and lover" which has a higher standard. Feeling so guilty you're "never gonna dance again"? Yeah, the fact that you feel guilt means you're still a friend...a weak-willed one but a friend/lover nonetheless. Just don't cheat again.
    Last edited by Scarlet Knight; 2019-01-20 at 07:25 AM.
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    BlackDragon

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    Default Re: Can you cheat a friend?

    Isn't the whole point of the song that he cheated on his girlfriend who then left him? That's how I always interpreted it, anyway.

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    Orc in the Playground
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    Default Re: Can you cheat a friend?

    I have no idea what song people are talking about. I'm confused.

    Also, I think the better question is can you friend a (the) Cheat?

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    Griffon

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    Default Re: Can you cheat a friend?

    Quote Originally Posted by veti View Post
    If you can provide a definition of "chest", and one of "friend", then your question will answer itself.

    If you can't provide these, then what you're really asking for is those definitions.

    Personally I would endorse the line that relationships are complicated and it doesn't make much sense to make dogmatic statements about such things.
    Playing definition games can be fun, but it tends to result in people disputing which definition is correct, and that's generally not half so much fun. I think that it's right to say that relationships are too complicated to fit simplistic definintions.
    The end of what Son? The story? There is no end. There's just the point where the storytellers stop talking.

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    Default Re: Can you cheat a friend?

    Quote Originally Posted by Magic_Hat View Post
    I have no idea what song people are talking about. I'm confused.
    Careless Whisper, by George Michael/Wham:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=izGwDsrQ1eQ

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    Default Re: Can you cheat a friend?

    It's an interesting question. I think there's really two major components. Both have a definitional and a normative element.

    (1): Can you cheat?


    Is cheating ever okay?
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    Well, depends on what you understand as "cheating". Let's take some common intuitions and define cheating as something like "dishonestly circumventing rules, mores, or customs".

    Cheating is, in typical cases, premeditated. You need to understand the rules, or at least the general gist of them, if you intend to evade them or use them to your advantage. This information discrepancy is what makes instances of cheating feel especially heinous ("You knew that I gave you my generosity because I thought you were broke and homeless! If I'd known you were spending it all on Pathfinder splatbooks, I would never have gave it to you!")

    It seems pretty safe to say that, by most people's understanding, cheating is wrong (we won't get in too much as to exactly why it's wrong).

    But what about situations where cheating is generally thought to be "okay"?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Eldan
    Cheat how? In a party game? If everyone is close enough friends and it's more or less accepted y the local social contract, that can be entirely acceptable. Cheat them out of money? See you in court.
    Where I'm from, there's a popular card game called "Cheat" (alternatively, "Bulls**t"; "Bluff"), which plays exactly like it sounds. Players are allowed and encouraged to cheat or bluff their opponents: doing so is not just part of the game; it's the very part of the game where player choice & skill comes into play. The ability to successfully bluff or cheat opponents is, in "Cheat", what distinguishes veteran players from novices.

    How do we contextualize cheating in these kinds of circumstances? It seems rather odd to equivocate an instance of "cheating" in games like Cheat (or even Poker) to an instance of cheating in games where cheating is not proscribed (like D&D). You wouldn't feel the same distaste from being out-bluffed in Poker, or out-cheated in Cheat, as you would if your opponent in Go-Fish had been lying to you every time you asked if they had any 2's.

    I'm of the opinion that these instances of "approved cheating" aren't really cheating at all. "True" cheating involves going beyond what is approved behavior in the context of the game and its agreed-upon rules. "Cheating" in Cheat might be dishonest, but it's not dishonestly circumventing rules. The agreed rules explicitly allow for that sort of dishonesty. A definition of cheating can exclude these sorts of situations.

    Cheating for the greater good?
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    A more interesting question asks whether it's ever okay to cheat (that is, genuinely cheat) when cheating produces results that are morally desirable. ("Yes, I cheated John out of his inheritance, but I only did so because I knew he was going to spend it all funding doomsday cults!" "Okay, so I may have cheated Steve on that last hand, but you know as well as I do he wouldn't have gone home to his wife and kids otherwise!")

    This question is not as simple; the answer depends heavily on your view of morality and right. You might think that cheating is inherently wrong and never excusable, even if it leads to better outcomes. Or, you might think that cheating is permissible and even obligatory when it results in a better world overall. Or, you might view cheating as impermissible, because it will on average tend to reduce everyone's welfare. Or, you might think that cheating as a "lesser evil" can be permissible in a very limited set of circumstances. These views are compatible with a wide range of moral belief, and people who agree upon fundamental moral principles can disagree about their specific application (and vice versa).

    The question has a general component ("Is it okay to do something 'bad', for a good reason?") which is applicable to all wrongs, and a specific component ("What's the good of not cheating?") which asks the particular value of honesty, rule-following, and following through on commitments. We're unlikely to agree upon a single answer to either. But we are likely to agree upon most actual instances of cheating. Dilemmas and borderline cases are interesting precisely because they're so rare; in day-to-day situations we commonly achieve practical moral consensus despite our diverse beliefs.

    (2): Can you cheat a friend?

    What if it's for their own benefit?
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    This question overlaps with the one discussed above. If it's okay to cheat someone for the sake of everyone's welfare, then surely their own welfare is included in that calculation --- shouldn't it be okay to cheat somebody when it's them who benefits substantially from the cheating? This is the problem of paternalism. Mostly, what's been discussed is state paternalism, where the "for-your-own-benefit" action is state-on-individual. But there's also individual-on-individual paternalism, which in the modern sense is often brought up in discussions on medical ethics.

    A doctor may, for example, know that giving a patient their cancer diagnosis would plunge them into a state of despair, with demonstrably adverse affects on their treatment. Or they might know that downplaying the actual mechanics of a surgical procedure might make a child's fundamentalist parents more likely to agree to the only realistic treatment option. There's a million of these cases, some more sympathetic than others, and many (sadly) based in reality. While medical paternalism used to be a lot more tolerated, the modern approach (post-1970s) in the West has the doctrine of "informed consent".

    A key element in these decisions is the value you attach to autonomous decision making. Autonomy doesn't extend to cover cases of insanity, but it does allow for "sub-optimal" decisions. A major argument for autonomy is that people need to make mistakes themselves to grow/learn. A second argument is that diversity in decision making protects against collective mistakes regarding "optimal" choices.

    There are also questions of continuity and personal identity: if your friend gave you a directive to "pull the plug" and end their life when their dementia advanced to a certain stage, would you? Would you even if, a decade later, they seemed happy and content, with no recollection of their previous directive? Is it even the same person you're beholden to? There's not an easy answer (if you're interested in the topic, these sorts of cases are generally referred to as "Ulysses contracts")

    Taking into account the special relationship of friendship might change your views on whether paternalism is permissible/obligatory. You might think that you owe your friends a special duty of autonomy: ("Normally, I'd never bring a novice on my biannual voyage across the Pacific. But I've known Claire for years; she seems really determined. If this is what she really wants, darn it, I'll respect her wishes.")

    Or, you might think you owe your friends a special duty of paternalism: ("I know lying to Tim about his cat's death was a bum thing to do. But he's just lost his uncle, and his girlfriend's left him. You know as well as I do he's in a bad state, he doesn't need to hear how the coyotes left Mittens strewn across the fence.")

    Most contemporary defenses of paternalism rely on some concept of implied autonomy. To take a favourable example: refusing to give a weapon to a person suffering from severe depression isn't really "limiting" their autonomy; it's advancing it. We can generally agree that we wouldn't want ourselves to be given weapons, if we were severely depressed. This hypothetical agreement provides a basis for welfare-advancing paternalism, by suggesting that it isn't always "paternalistic" to impart autonomy-advancing preferences (even where the person doesn't "actually" agree to them).

    All in all, whether you think "paternalistic" cheating is okay boils down:
    1. Whether you think you're advancing someone's welfare by (paternalistically) cheating them; which is dependent on:
      1a. What it is you think "autonomy" really consists in
      1b. How important you think "autonomy" is, in any case, to someone's overall welfare
    2. Whether you think you owe friends a special duty to treat them more or less paternalistically.

    2. isn't monolithic: you can think that you owe friends (and not everyone) a special duty to be paternalistic in certain situations; while also owing them (and not everyone) a duty to respect their autonomy in other situations.

    If you cheat them, are they really your friend?
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    Quote Originally Posted by JeenLeen
    So perhaps, if the sole reason for friendship is a selfish exploitation, then you're not really a friend.
    This is, I think, a very natural response to the question. Let's start with the basic motivation. Suppose you consistently and deliberately wronged someone, who considered you their friend, by deceiving them and taking advantage of their "one-sided" affection.

    It seems sensible to say that in such a case, you aren't really their friend at all. They are mistaken, not on the nature of "friendship" in general, but as to the circumstances of this friendship in particular. They are assuming some measure of reciprocity that doesn't exist. You, on the contrary, are not mistaken: you don't think of them as a friend, but know they think of you as such. Or, if you are mistaken, it is not as to the circumstances of this friendship specifically, but as to the nature of friendship in general (i.e., you think treating friends in such a way is acceptable). `

    This is a fair intuition. Surely, there's some level of malicious, purposive and premeditated behaviour which makes it virtually impossible to claim that one understood the relationship as friendship (barring some gross misunderstanding of friendship itself).

    But there's also much behaviour that falls short of that standard. As Scarlet Knight says:
    Quote Originally Posted by Scarlet Knight
    Of course you can cheat a friend; we all have that mooch of a friend who never buys a round but is so funny you keep him around anyway.
    This sort of cheating isn't at all paternalistic; it can't be justified as being "for-your-own-benefit". But it also seems comparatively minor. What it boils down to is (1) just how serious or offensive you take the cheating to be; and (2) just what the expectations are for that particular friendship.

    Surely, as RPGers, we can imagine two pickpockets who've grown up together, adventured together, and treat each other with genuine affection. The two might tolerate certain instances of cheating in their friendship (cheating at dice; cheating at love; cheating in minor business ventures) while at the same time regarding other instances of cheating (ratting the other out to the authorities) as outside the scope of that friendship.

    The permissibility of this sort of cheating is context-specific, and ties in to the question discussed above ("But what about situations where cheating is generally thought to be "okay"?").

    Friendship and forgiveness
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    I'd like to conclude by offering a consideration slightly different from what's been discussed above. While we can certainly construct a definition of "friendship" that strictly forbade any sort of non-agreed upon cheating, I worry that such a definition might fail to capture some important part of what it means to be a friend.

    Let's assume for this point that the cheating is substantial and more than a minor offence; let's also assume it's outside the bounds of whatever's been agreed-upon as terms of friendship. I still think that it might be inappropriate to say that everyone cheating another must either fail to regard them as a friend, or fail to understand friendship itself.

    Humans have use of morality is because we often act in immoral ways; because we're fallible. I think it paints an overly bleak picture of humanity to say that anyone who's seriously wronged a friend, by definition, was merely using them and could not have cared for them deeply and sincerely. Admittedly, you can try to get around this by "pruning" your notion of friendship ("He might've been her friend, but he wasn't her friend in the minute he was cheating on her"), but the point I want to get across is that we're complex and often contradictory moral beings. People are capable of great compassion and cruelty, often at the same time and occasionally to the same person.

    I think it says a lot to our moral capacities that we're able, consistently, to forgive and reconcile those who've wronged us in serious ways. I think it says even more to this point that we're able to do so in cases where the one who's wronged us is a close friend or companion, who may have used and trivialized that companionship in wronging us.

    Morality and right is supposed to set the basis or "bottom-line" for acceptable behaviour in friendships. But it can't set the upper limit: there's no "moral" answer as to the question "How far should I go to help a friend?". The goodwill you display towards a friend is what's known as a superfluous good; it's commendable but not required; like saving someone from a burning building. You'd certainly be excused for dumping a friend who cheated you badly. But, in my opinion, you shouldn't be faulted for forgiving them, either. Of course, I'm not saying we should ignore malicious intentions, but "forgiving a friend who seriously wronged you", for me, falls into the category of "good but not obligatory".

    Of course, moral considerations can still creep in around the edges. Perhaps you're helping your friend to the neglect of your children or dependents; perhaps, by doing so, you're neglecting your own aspirations and wronging yourself in some fashion. Obviously, these are bad. But the point remains that there is an extra-moral component to friendship. You've probably heard something resembling the saying "best friends will help you bury bodies".This is what I'm trying to get at by saying "morality can't set upper limits to friendship".

    This leads into a further point: whether we think one owes a special duty to forgive one's friends. Personally, I would answer in the affirmative. One thing that makes friendship special is that we're willing to tolerate behaviour we wouldn't tolerate from any ordinary individual; provided (perhaps) such toleration is in our friend's own interest. But there's a lot of room for debate here, and surely one would be justified in refusing to "enable" a friend's negative behaviour, if that behaviour was detrimental to their own interest. How far you think it's okay to go in the name of your friend's welfare ties into the earlier topic ("What if it's for their own benefit?")

    TL;DR: You shouldn't cheat a friend, but you probably can.
    Last edited by xkcd44; 2019-01-20 at 08:59 PM.

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    Ettin in the Playground
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    Default Re: Can you cheat a friend?

    If you cheat someone, you can tell you're still friends if you regret it and they forgive you for it.
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    Pixie in the Playground
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    Default Re: Can you cheat a friend?

    IMO no, not really, if they are really a friend you should love them, and you shouldn't want to cheat someone you love.

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    Default Re: Can you cheat a friend?

    Quote Originally Posted by xkcd44 View Post
    Where I'm from, there's a popular card game called "Cheat" (alternatively, "Bulls**t"; "Bluff"), which plays exactly like it sounds. Players are allowed and encouraged to cheat or bluff their opponents: doing so is not just part of the game; it's the very part of the game where player choice & skill comes into play. The ability to successfully bluff or cheat opponents is, in "Cheat", what distinguishes veteran players from novices.

    How do we contextualize cheating in these kinds of circumstances? It seems rather odd to equivocate an instance of "cheating" in games like Cheat (or even Poker) to an instance of cheating in games where cheating is not proscribed (like D&D). You wouldn't feel the same distaste from being out-bluffed in Poker, or out-cheated in Cheat, as you would if your opponent in Go-Fish had been lying to you every time you asked if they had any 2's.

    I'm of the opinion that these instances of "approved cheating" aren't really cheating at all. "True" cheating involves going beyond what is approved behavior in the context of the game and its agreed-upon rules. "Cheating" in Cheat might be dishonest, but it's not dishonestly circumventing rules. The agreed rules explicitly allow for that sort of dishonesty. A definition of cheating can exclude these sorts of situations.[/SPOILER]
    I don't mean cheating in games where it's part of the rules. But if I know someone long enough, and it's a bit later in the evening, with certain people, it can be quite fun to pass a friend a card under the table in a party card game without being seen. I know plenty of people who think that's funny, if you can pull it off. (Obviously, not in long, or tactically involved games. But my friends have pretty much accepted that cheating is part of, say, UNO.)
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    Default Re: Can you cheat a friend?

    If you cheat, you're only an acquaintance.

    What's worse, if they don't realise you're cheating, they may still think of you as a friend.

    Ugh.

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    Pixie in the Playground
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    Default Re: Can you cheat a friend?

    I don't cheat friends

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    Default Re: Can you cheat a friend?

    If you do, you automatically acquire the Guilty Feet flaw, which applies a -4 penalty to all Dance and Rhythm checks. So I advise against it.
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    Default Re: Can you cheat a friend?

    Quote Originally Posted by hustlertwo View Post
    If you do, you automatically acquire the Guilty Feet flaw, which applies a -4 penalty to all Dance and Rhythm checks. So I advise against it.
    Oh, BRA-vo, sir.
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    Default Re: Can you cheat a friend?

    Quote Originally Posted by Scarlet Knight View Post
    Oh, BRA-vo, sir.
    Thank you muchly.
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    Default Re: Can you cheat a friend?

    My preferred resolution to the Sorites paradox is to use non-binary logic and treat terms as relative rather than absolute. So maybe 100% pure friendships are very rare, and maybe cheating someone could lower your friendship rating from 90% to 80%, say. (Be mindful that you lose at zero trust!)

    Words ("friend" and "cheat", in this case) aren't only vague in degree or intensity, but that's how I suggest dealing with that aspect of the question.

    Quote Originally Posted by JeenLeen View Post
    So perhaps, if the sole reason for friendship is a selfish exploitation, then you're not really a friend. Maybe it's some sort of co-dependent mutual selfish exploitation, e.g., yeah, you're using him, but he's using you, and you both agree to it. Is that friendship?
    "Wait!! My problem is that I'm seeing any positive effect of friendship as income, and thus everyone involved in on as compromised in a conflict of interest. I would only be happy if having friends was awful!

    Thanks, rare and brilliant moments of perfect self-awareness!"
    T-rex, Esq.

    I would suggest that perhaps it's best not to define friendship such that it can't exist given psychological egoism. It's similar to how I'd say that if your concept of free will even relates to the fundamental laws of physics, then it seems like maybe you took a wrong turn somewhere.

    But that's just, like, my opinion, man.

    Quote Originally Posted by xkcd44 View Post
    Most contemporary defenses of paternalism rely on some concept of implied autonomy. To take a favourable example: refusing to give a weapon to a person suffering from severe depression isn't really "limiting" their autonomy; it's advancing it. We can generally agree that we wouldn't want ourselves to be given weapons, if we were severely depressed. This hypothetical agreement provides a basis for welfare-advancing paternalism, by suggesting that it isn't always "paternalistic" to impart autonomy-advancing preferences (even where the person doesn't "actually" agree to them).
    This might seem like a minor point, but, well... the scare quotes really really super duper belong around "implied autonomy", "advancing", and "autonomy-advancing" rather than around "limiting", "paternalistic", and "actually".

    My objection here isn't at all to valuing things other than freedom, but to moving even that far towards "Freedom is slavery". Like... way, way too far for my comfort. I get the temptation to present and even think of a preferred course of action as having no downsides (moral or practical), but please, let's try not to lose track of the trade-offs we're making.
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