Thoughts on Ethics
Few things are as essential to human life as the question of what is “good” and what is “wrong”. This essay makes a modest contribution to this millenium-old discussion. It aims to provide a pragmatic, but precise guide to moral behavior in everyday life.

# Contents

# General Thoughts

# Background

I have no education in law or philosophy. Hence the following thoughts are purely personal attitudes. Since I grew up in Western Europe, the values proposed here are influenced by a Western model of ethics, based on the ideas of secularism and the Enlightenment.

Ethical norms are highly disputable and by no means universal. Behaviors respected by one society may be rejected as amoral by another. Even people within the same society may have different attitudes concerning the moral acceptability of a certain behavior. This entails that the ideas presented here are only one particular view on ethics, which is open to debate. The subject of ethics also changes with the time. New inventions (such as the Internet or cloning) may require new laws. Therefore, this essay presents only a snapshot of ethics at the current point of time.

The ideas of this essay are presented in natural language. It is well known that natural language leaves much room for ambiguity and interpretation. Although this essay tries to define its notions in an exact way, it cannot avoid depending on a good-natured and thoughtful reader. Even though all thoughts in this essay apply to both men and women, this essay will use the male form of pronouns for simplicity. This is maybe pardonable, given that this essay is mostly about perpetrators.

This essay defines notions that may already have a slightly different meaning in everyday language or jurisdiction. Hence all notions defined here are to be considered local to this document. Assume the suffix “... in the sense of this essay” attached to all notions defined here.

This essay takes a liberal stance on ethics. This means that this essay will consider immoral only those behaviors that are so bad that we want to punish them. This, however, is only a baseline for human behavior. Following these guidelines alone does not make you a friendly person, a respectable member of society, a good parent or a good friend.

# Ethical Standards

# Ethics and Nature

The study of “good” and “bad” is called “Ethics”. There are numerous approaches to define the concept of ethical behavior. One common approach is to declare something “good” if it is somehow “natural” — and “bad” if it is not. It is difficult to define “natural” here. If “natural” means what the speaker considers reasonable, then morality would be purely subjective. Since different people consider different things natural, the result would be anarchy. By “natural”, one can also mean “something that appears in nature”. Unfortunately, nature is a difficult guide. Humans do many things that do not happen in nature (such as riding a bicycle or brushing their teeth). Still, these things are morally acceptable. Worse, animals do many things that humans would not consider moral. Cats torture their prey apparently for fun, some spider species eat their mates and lions routinely kill the baby lions when they take over a harem. Thus, a behavior is not necessarily morally acceptable if it appears in nature. This shows that nature cannot be taken as a guide in matters of ethics.

# Perpetrator’s Justice

One of the most catchy ethical principles is the principle of reciprocal ethics: “What is hateful to yourself, do not do to your fellow man.”. It is mirrored by the biblical instruction to “love your neighbor as yourself”. Unfortunately, this principle places the assessment of a deed entirely in the hands of the perpetrator. For example, someone who supports communism will be allowed to take your bike — simply because in his eyes the concept of individual property does not exist and he would have no problem if you took his bike. You might beg to differ. Thus, we cannot leave the moral judgement of a deed to the perpetrator. This would entail a world of “perpetrator’s justice”.

The same applies to Kant’s Categorical Imperative: “Act only according to that maxim whereby you can at the same time will that it should become a universal law.”. With this, a communist will happily start redistributing people’s property, because this is his vision of the universal law. Proponents of the death penalty will start executing convicted murderers, because in their universal law, the death penalty is the punishment for capital crimes. Opponents of the death penalty will start imprisoning the proponents, because they are murderers in their view. It becomes clear that for every law that someone considers universal there will be someone else who thinks it is not. In summary, the Categorical Imperative tells us to behave reasonably, but it does not tell us what “reasonable” is.

# Victim’s Justice

An alternative is to judge a behavior as “bad” if it makes somebody suffer. For example, if Alice calls Bertram an idiot, Bertram feels insulted and suffers. Hence Alice’s behavior was bad. However, taking the victim’s suffering as a proof of wrong conduct leads to the problem of “victim’s justice”:
Suppose that Bertram tells Alice that black people would be an inferior race to whites. Alice calls that attitude racist. Bertram feels insulted. He say’s he’s not a racist. Alice insists and Bertrand gets very angry at Alice. But even though Bertram feels insulted, Alice was right: Bertram’s attitude is racist.
Just because someone feels bad, it does not mean that he is right. Another idea is to call something “bad” if it brings a disadvantage to somebody. However, this will also not work:
Assume that we own a butcher’s shop. Now assume that someone else opens a butcher’s shop right next door. This brings us adisadvantage. However, we do not have the right to expect that nobody else opens a butcher’s shop next door.
This shows that the victim’s suffering cannot be taken as a proof of wrong conduct.

# Norms

# Existing Norms

In order to avoid perpetrator’s justice and victim’s justice, we have to define bad behavior independently of the opinions of the people involved. Such a definition of bad behavior is called a “norm”. A well-known example for norms are for instance the 10 Commandments. One might argue that they already provide a reasonable guidance and that no further discussion of norms is necessary. However, this is difficult. First, the 10 Commandments prescribe monotheism, which we may not impose on everybody. Second, they fail to prohibit such essential things as the deprivation of personal freedom. That is, they do not prohibit kidnapping somebody. Thus, the 10 Commandments allow something we want to prohibit (kidnapping) and prohibit something we want to allow (polytheism or atheism).

The national law of different countries may be a valuable alternative. However, these systems are seldom applicable in everyday life, because they do not coincide with our intuition of “good” and “bad”. Here are some examples:

From an idealist point of view, it is not understandable why stealing a car should be treated differently from stealing a pencil. After all, the difference between the two is not principal but gradual. This shows that the law is not sufficient to regulate everyday moral behavior.

# The Nature of Norms

The moral quality of a behavior is not an intrinsic property of the behavior itself. We cannot say that a certain behavior is objectively morally wrong. Such a statement would be unfalsifiable (The Atheist Bible / Chapter on Truth / Falsifiability). We can only say that certain people find certain actions morally wrong. Hence, for this essay, a norm is a moral valuation that a person, a document, or an authority gives to a behavior [Thoughts on Rationality / Moral Statements]. For example, a norm is:
I call George W. Bush’s invasion of Iraq morally wrong.
Such a statement is of the same type as “I find Alice beautiful”. They express a valuation of a state by a person. Such a valuation is what we call a norm. I discuss this line of thought in The Atheist Bible / Chapter on Morality / Section on Rules.

Typically, norms come in the form of a whole package of norms. These can be national laws, religious books, or philosophical frameworks. Such packages list behaviors that the author of the norms labels as morally wrong. Usually, the document itself is seen as an abstract entity that labels the behavior as wrong. For example, the national civil law will state that the law (as an abstract entity) condemns theft. Analogously, the present essay will say that “This essay labels theft as morally wrong”. Thus, technically speaking, the essay is an entity that attaches moral labels to behaviors. I discuss logical and philosophical properties of norms are in Thoughts on Rationality / Properties of Moral Frameworks.

Norms are a human artifact, a personal view on behavior. Hence, a behavior is never “bad” by itself. It can only be “bad” with respect to a given norm. It is impossible to judge a behavior as bad without naming the norm. Hence, in order to reach a common judgement, one first needs to agree on a common norm. Unfortunately, in everyday disputes, the norms are often not clear, let alone agreed on.

Since norms are labels that people attach to behaviors, they are necessarily subjective. Different people (or different documents) can attach different labels to the same behavior. This is indeed what we observe in life: In some countries, the death penalty is in force. In other countries, the death penalty is shunned. In some countries, people may not marry people of other religions. In other countries, people are free to marry whom they wish. The same is true across time: Slavery, for example, was socially accepted during centuries. Today, the norm is that slavery is shunned. I discuss this variation in detail in The Atheist Bible / Chapter on Morality / Diversity in Laws.

Since something is never good or bad by itself, a norm can never be good or bad by itself either. Hence, it cannot be said whether one norm is better than another norm. No norm is “better” than another norm. Existing norms are nothing more than an arbitrary consensus by people. The only way in which a norm can be compared to another norm is by judging it with respect to a reference norm. For example, we can judge a national law with respect to the Human Rights. We can say that one country has “better” laws with respect to the Human Rights than another country. However, the choice of the Human Rights as a yardstick is in itself arbitrary. Humans create norms, and humans enforce, change, follow, break, or abandon norms.

This essay, too, is an arbitrary definition of labels. It is not “better” than other norms. It aims to be “good” with respect to the consciences of people in the Western world.

# Implementation of Norms

We see norms as moral labels for behaviors. However, this does not explain why people should obey a norm. People may learn that a norm labels a certain behavior as wrong, but there is no reason why people should then avoid that behavior. Common argumentations point out that violating norms causes harm to the victim. However, it is not clear why harm should necessarily be avoided — as long as it is harm to somebody else. It is sometimes argued that norms are the only means to guarantee maximal welfare to all people. However, it is not clear why maximal welfare for all people should be desirable. A society with slaves, for example, will guarantee even greater welfare for the people (except for the slaves). Other argumentations point out that violating a norm will cause harm to the perpetrator, e.g. in form of punishment, revenge, the danger of becoming a victim himself, or in form of burning in hell. However, in principle, nothing prevents a perpetrator from breaking a norm, if he does not fear the consequences. This shows that norms are at most conventions, which have no compulsory foundation in logic or nature.

Norms come into existence if someone defines them (Thoughts on Rationality / Properties of Moral Frameworks). This is done mostly by writing them up. The creators of the criminal law, for example, gathered and produced a document that contains norms. Such a package of norms comes into effect if people vow to adhere to it. For example, the government of the country decides that from now on, it wishes to enforce its criminal law, and to use its jurisdiction and executive power to prosecute people who behave morally wrong according to this law. This does not make the law “true” or “good” in any sense. It just means that the law is enforced.

# Reasons for Norms

We have seen that norms cannot be derived from nature. This leaves us to wonder where norms come from. From a religious point of view, there could be two answers: One answer is that God gave us the norms in form of a holy book. But that would assume that people before the revelation of that book did not have any morals. That is wrong. Babylonian and Sumerian laws, e.g., date from the year 2000 BCE. These law systems predate the major world religions by several hundred if not thousands of years. The laws codified family laws, punishments, property laws, leasing, debt, warranty, and the presumption of innocence [Wikipedia / Ancient legal codes]. In many respects, ancient laws were much more modern that today’s religious laws (The Atheist Bible / Chapter on Criticism of Religion / Dogmatic Values).

We could argue that God gave humans the divine moral understanding (The Atheist Bible / Chapter on Morality / God gives us the rules). However, moral standards are not absolute. They change over time. Slavery, e.g., was widely regarded as normal in the Medieval Ages. Nowadays, it is shunned, and considered immoral even in retrospect. Polygamy is illegal in Christian countries, but legal in Muslim ones. The death penalty is upheld in some countries, but regarded as immoral by the others. This defies the idea that moral standards would be absolute and divine.

Still, basic ethic behavior might have a foundation in evolution (The Atheist Bible / Chapter on Morality / Section on Pacts): At first glance, norms are just a restriction of personal liberty. Throughout the evolution of mankind, however, it turned out that societies that did not have norms were much less successful than societies that did. The restriction of personal liberty is outweighted quickly by the gains in security and trust, which in turn facilitate commitments, co-operation and task sharing. These benefits, to be sure, do not come immediately to the individual who decides to behave morally. But if all members of a group obey certain norms, they create a stable social environment, which ultimately benefits everybody. A stable social environment promotes the survival of the group and ensures procreation. Hence, groups that had a concept of ethics had an evolutionary advantage. This might be the reason why humans today seem to have some built-in basic sense of justice or at least empathy. This sense of empathy is surely not evenly distributed. But most people abhor violence and most people feel compassion if they see somebody suffering.

This built-in rudimentary sense of empathy is combined with a more pragmatic reason for ethics: The majority of people in a society do not wish to live in a lawless environment. The dangers, the cost for protection, the cost for missing trust, and the inconveniences are too large. Therefore, most people desire that there be rules by which everybody plays. Hence, societies give themselves rules. This applies to small societies (such as clubs, families, or even Mafia gangs) as well as to large societies (such as countries or the world). People define norms and decide to enforce them, because otherwise their lives would be too insecure.

# Using Norms

Norms can label certain behaviors as morally wrong. However, norms cannot enforce themselves. They cannot prevent a person from behaving in a certain way if the person does not care about the norm. This entails that a norm, however thoughtful, is useless if nobody enforces it.

Furthermore, norms, however perfect, cannot do away with the need for interpretation. We still need people to judge whether a certain circumstance of the real world falls under a definition of a norm. The essay tries to make its definitions precise, but still has to rely on a benevolent, human mapping of the real world to its technical terms.

New inventions may also make new laws necessary. For example, computer technology allows data to be copied effortlessly. This means that we have to protect intellectual property much better than it was necessary when the only means of data exchange was printed books. New developments, such as cloning, 3D printing, and genetic engineering, will require updates of our norms. This essay also undergoes such changes. They are listed in the change log.

All of these considerations show us that the study of ethics — much more than the study of mathematics, for example — is a highly contingent enterprise. In spite of this, mankind benefits a lot from moral standards.

# General Ethics

# Maxim of Moral

The leading norm throughout this essay is what I would like to call the Maxim of Moral:
Possible damage has to be prevented
and actual damage has to be repaired
This maxim consists of two parts: A “prospective” part aimed at avoiding possible damage and a “retrospective” part aimed at making up for actual damages. The following chapters will define the notion of damage and show how the maxim can be implemented in reality.

This essay builds its terms on the notion of damage. I.e. the ground terms of this essay will be negative notions like “Theft” and “Injury”. Alternatively, it is possible to build law on the notion of “legal goods” (“Rechtsgüter” in German Law). Legal goods are positive values like “Property” and “Health”. Damage would then be defined as a reduction of these values. Some offenses can be described easily in terms of legal goods (e.g. a theft is a reduction of property), whereas others cannot (e.g. lying). Hence this essay uses the notion of damage instead of on the notion of legal goods.

In the following, we will use the notion “offense” to refer to a damage caused by a person. This person will be called the “perpetrator”. The person suffering the damage will be the “victim”.

# Misconceptions about Offenses

From the point of view of the Maxim of Moral, there are a number of common misconceptions about offenses:
# An offense can be resolved by retaliation.
Obviously, this is wrong. About the only effect of retaliation is that the amount of damage in this world increases.
# If you don’t get punished, it’s OK.
Again, this is wrong. A deed is bad if it causes damage to a victim, no matter whether it is punished or not. In fact, it is deplorable that some bad deeds do not get punished.
# If somebody is just doing his job, it’s OK.
The fact that somebody gets paid for something does not mean that what he is doing would be morally justified. A Mafia gang member also just does his job.
# If it brings me a disadvantage, it must be bad.
As we have seen in the discussion about victim’s justice, this is not true: If we own a butcher’s shop and someone opens another butcher’s shop next door, then this is a disadvantage to us, but still morally perfectly OK.
# If I have the means, I have the right.
This is wrong. We have the means to scratch a car with a key, yet that doesn’t make it right.
# If they let me do it, I can do it.
Again, this is wrong. We cannot prevent everybody from doing bad things. People are responsible for their own behavior.
# I am poor, so I have to steal and lie.
Not necessarily. Many societies provide honest means for poor people to survive. It is better to work to establish these means than to work against other people, because this ultimately erodes trust (see the discussion on society).
# If nothing physical gets broken, it’s OK.
Quite a number of offenses are non-physical, for example lying, extortion, intellecutal property crimes, privacy violation or insult. It may even be an offense to do nothing (denial of assistance).
# If nobody notices it, it’s OK.
Paradoxically, something can be wrong even if nobody notices it. If, e.g., a spouse cheats their partner with another person, then we want to condemn it — even if the partner does not notice.
# People are bad to me, so I can be bad to them.
Such thinking only reinforces the wickedness in this world. Nothing entitles people to commit an offense.
# There are so many bad things in this world that we should not try to resolve each of them.
It is actually vice versa: There are so many bad things in this world because we not try to resolve each of them. Every single bad thing that gets resolved is a step ahead — no matter how many more there are.
# An offense that has happened in the past belongs to the past and hence we should not talk about it.
This is wrong. Talking about an offense can warn other people — both those who are tempted to commit it and those who are likely to fall prey to it. Hence, talking is useful.
# We should not deal with internal matters of a family/relationship/nation etc.
An offense that happens inside a social structure is not any better than an offense that happens outside the structure or across its boundaries. Calling it an “internal matter” is just a weak excuse for not dealing with it.
# A thief may not accuse somebody else of theft.
This essay is of the opinion that every single contribution to justice is valuable — including the contribution of somebody who has stolen something.
# Others do wrong things, therefore I can as well.
One bad deed cannot justify another one. All bad deeds should be prevented or compensated, no matter by whom they were done.
# If he did something bad to me, then I may do something bad to him.
Since this principle can be iterated, it is a recipe for conflict. If he did something bad to you, that bad deed shall be repaired and not repeated.
# If it is done for religious reasons, it’s OK.
This is wrong, because the victim of an offense suffers no matter with what intention the offense was committed. Religion may not be used as an excuse, and does not free people from their responsibility.
# Only the victim may blame the perpetrator.
If justice is the goal, then everybody should be allowed to work towards it. There is no reason why third parties should be forbidden to contribute to the solution of a conflict.
# Moral rules are useful, but have to be broken from time to time.
If the rules are well-designed, they also regulate exceptions to themselves. For example, most legal systems allow for self-defense. Self-defense is not outside the rules, but part of it.

# Principles of this Essay

This essay relies on the following principles:
Fundamental principles
# Harm Principle
Damage is the central notion of this essay. Anything that does not cause damage is allowed.
#Causality Principle
A person can only be held responsible for a damage, if that person caused that damage. Unrelated people cannot be held responsible.
# Equality Principle
Everybody has the same rights and duties under this law. Laws can only be made on the basis of behavior, and not on the basis of race, gender, religion, or world view (even if a certain behavior may coincide with a certain world view). Exceptions can only be made in favor of entities who have less physical capabilities in a particular sense or way.
# Openness to change
The advances in culture and technology may make us change our concepts of morality (see discussion about the Use of Norms). Hence, this essay acknowledges that we may have to add new laws, abandon old laws, or change existing laws. A change log lists the changes implemented so far in this essay.
Responsibility
# Principle of Personal Responsibility
Everybody is responsible for his own actions and its consequences. This is the basic assumption of law. It is commonly agreed that mentally ill people and children shall be exceptions to this rule.
# Principle of Universal Responsibility
In the spirit of the Maxim of Moral, everybody is obliged to prevent damage whenever this can be reasonably imposed. This holds regardless of whether one is directly involved in the damage or not.
# Principle of Proximity
The agent who could have avoided the damage most easily shares the largest part of the responsibility.
# Dixit-Principle
People have to assume full responsibility for the truth of their statements. If somebody makes a false statement with appropriate seriousness, he has to compensate those who believed in it (see lying). Thus, we have the right to act as if these statements were true. In particular, we have the right to take any permission and any waiver as well as any promise or desire or threat for true. Not only does this principle simplify life considerably, it also forms the basis of social trust.
Liberalism
# Liberal laws are easier to enforce
If one defines very high moral standards, people will disagree on them. Hence, it will be difficult to convice them to uphold the standards. Consequently, some of the standards will erode over time. This undercuts the overall authority of the standards. Furthermore, very high moral standards will entail that people cannot uphold all of them — even if they want to. This would induce a permanent state of bad conscience even for the good-natured. It may also lead to cherry picking, where people choose to obey some standards and ignore others. For these reasons, this essay will define only the kernel of moral behavior, i.e. the hardest and clearest types of offenses. It will leave all more subtle or debatable damages unrespected. This may seem unjust, but it ensures that the moral standards of this essay are robust and applicable in everyday life.
# Intentions are secondary
In criminal law, the intention of the perpetrator is crucial to distinguish negligence from malevolence. In everyday life, however, it is difficult to prove whether somebody did something with the intent to harm or not. This is why this essay is based mostly on people’s observable behavior. There is, however, a way to take into account the perpetrator’s intention in the penalty.
# No excuse for religion
Some people justify their behavior by their religious beliefs. This essay grants everyone the right to believe whatever they wish (through the Harm Principle). However, it does not admit religious conviction as an excuse for an offense. A damage remains a damage, no matter whether it was done out of religious conviction or not. If we allow damage to be done in the name of religion, then everyone could just found a religion that justifies his behaviors. Religion does not free people from their personal responsibility.
Protecting the Victim
# The rights of the victim override the rights of the perpetrator
This essay concentrates on the victims of offenses. This entails that when the rights of the victim and the rights of the perpetrator conflict, preference is mostly given to the rights of the victim. One consequence is that an offense may be prevented by force even if the perpetrator suffers more from the prevention than the victim would have suffered from the offense.
# Principle of Self-Ownership
This essay considers it a personal right to do whatever you please, as long as no damage to outsiders is done. This includes doing damage to yourself. Thus, everybody has the right to inflict damage to himself. In any case, it would be an impossible task to prevent people from doing something that might harm them on the long run (like for instance smoking).
Protecting the Perpetrator
# Volenti non fit iniuria
That is, we will not care about an offense if the victim agrees with it. The goal of this essay is preventing undesired harm. If the harm is desired, there is no need to intervene.
# No Sulking
The principle of “Volenti non fit iniuria” also extends to cases where the victim does not show interest in resolving an offense. If the victim does not co-operate in finding the perpetrator or in clarifying the circumstances, it may be assumed that the victim agrees with the offense. Hence no further action is required.
# No Silent Suffering
If a victim is currently suffering from a damage and he knows that the perpetrator is unaware of the damage he is causing, the victim has to report the damage to the perpetrator. Otherwise, the victim would be suffering needlessly.
# If you cannot do something, you don’t have to
Moral duties cannot impose something that cannot be done. For example, if you do not know about an offense, you cannot be obliged to provide assistance. Thus, when you always do your best, you can be sure you are unassailable.
# There must always be a way to apologize
People err and people make mistakes. Hence there must be a way for a perpetrator to clear his guilt. If the perpetrator shows serious regret and makes up for the damage, he will be free of guilt. This does not cleanse his history and maybe it does not restore confidence in him, but it erases all further claims against him.
# You own what you see
People have the right to record whatever happens in their lives. They may not be allowed to share it, but they can record it. This does not apply to unlawfully obtained information.
Handling Offenses
# Audiatur et altera pars
Reality is non-monotonous: A discovery of a new fact may challenge previous beliefs. This is why a dispute may not be decided by hearing only one party, but requires hearing all involved parties.
# Principle of Modularity
The Principle of Modularity says that the victim of an offense can always demand compensation from the direct originator of that offense — no matter whether the originator can blame somebody else for his behavior. For instance, assume that Alonso lends his bicycle to Bertram. Unfortunately, Bertram has it stolen by Cedrick. Then, by the principle of modularity, Alonso can claim direct compensation from Bertram. In a separate case, Bertram can demand compensation from Cedrick. This compensation will cover both the bicycle itself and all additional efforts Bertram had to make to compensate Alonso. This two-step process establishes a certain modularity: It ensures that the victim of an offense can always turn to the direct perpetrator for compensation. The victim does not need to care for the perpetrator’s reasons or for the legality of these reasons.
# Material Principle
The Material Principle says that guilt can be expressed in terms of money. Although this is certainly close to impossible for some offenses (such as murder), it seems to be the only way towards an objective judgement. Thus, we have to assume that guilt can be quantified.
# Claim of Exclusiveness
This essay binds the conventional, inter-personal notion of “guilt” to its own, technical, quantified notion of guilt. That is, if this essay declares a person free of guilt, the person shall also be free of guilt in the conventional sense: He shall have a clear conscience and people shall not blame him.

The goal of applicability in everyday life entails that this essay does not rely on a central institution (like a government). The procedures described here can be (and should be) carried out by any individual.

# Resolutions

This essay proposes the following procedure after an offense:
The perpetrator has to make up for the damage he caused.
This effort (the “compensation”) shall restore the state before the damage.
The perpetrator has to apologize.
According to the Material Principle this apology can be a financial amount paid to the victim. The apology is tailored to the victim. The idea is that the very fact of being a victim to an offense shall also be compensated by the perpetrator. Imagine someone steals a bicycle. It is not sufficient if he gives back the bicycle after one year. Rather, he has to compensate the very fact of stealing the bicycle.
The perpetrator has to make an effort for the community (the “penalty”).
The penalty shall prevent him from committing the offense again. This effort is related to the penalty in criminal law.
We need the penalty to avoid the problem of the “rich slave”:
Suppose a millionaire misuses another person as a slave. As the millionaire is so rich, he simply pays a huge amount of compensation to the slave. But the slave can never make use of this money, because he is locked up in the millionaire’s house to work until he dies.
This problem can only be avoided by a penalty tailored to the perpetrator — such as for instance imposing a very high fee on him or even imprisioning him. The penalty has to include all benefits that the offense yielded to the perpetrator. We have to include these benefits in order to avoid the problem of the “rich cab driver”:
Suppose a guy steals somebody’s car and uses it as a cab. He would later give the car back to the owner. The net loss for the car owner is a few days of using public transport instead of his car. The cab driver made so much money driving the cab that he can easily compensate the car owner. If we do not take away this money from the cab driver, we will encourage him to steal the car again.
The penalty shall benefit the community.

# Basic Formula

In summary, the basic formula is: Compensation for the damage, apology for the victim, penalty for the perpetrator. This formula also applies to minor offenses: It is important that the perpetrator makes up for the damage, he shall apologize and he shall make sure that the offense will not happen again. An apology that does not make up for the damage or that does not ensure that the offense will not happen again is worthless. Likewise, a compensation without an apology and without the guarantee that the damage will not happen again is only half of the cake.

# Overview

After the general principles of this essay have been discussed, the notion of damage still has to be defined more precisely. The following sections will do this in all rigorosity, defining a model of the world, the concept of damage itself, together with the idea of resolutions. Since these sections are very technical, the present section already gives an informal overview of these things. The definitions in the present section are not normative. For more precise definitions, including discussions of alternative definitions, click on the links.

# Direct Damages

Direct damages are damages where a victim suffers directly from an action. These are
Physical damages
Injury
Some person or animal suffers bodily harm.
Killing
Some person or animal gets killed.
Sexual assault
Undesired sexual contact.
Property violation
Somebody’s property is affected.
Trespass
Something or someone trespasses on somebody else’s territory.
Obstruction
An animal or a person is forced to do something or not to do something.
Disturbance
Repeated or extreme stress on someone’s sensual organs.
Non-physical damages
Threat
Someone threats somebody else with some damage.
Insult
Someone says something about somebody else that is (1) unprovable and (2) pejorative.
Sabotage
Someone disturbs the working of a machine or computer.
Intellectual Theft
Intellectual property is used in a way that is not allowed by the author.
Privacy violation
Private information is extracted by (1) causing damage or (2) using technical means.
Exposure
Embarrassing information is shared.
Disclosure
Personally identifying information is made public.
Lying
Someone says something that turns out not to be true.
Damages caused by non-action
Missing Credit
Intellectual property is used without giving due credit.
Denial of assistance
Someone suffers a damage and someone else just stands by without rushing to help.
Dereliction
A child is not given a proper upbringing.
Abuse of a dependant
An offense is committed against a dependant person.
Even though all of these cases are damages, they are not necessarily offenses. In many cases, damage may occur with consent of the victim. For example, if Alice invites Bertram to his place, Bertram causes a trespass damage to Alice — but this is perfectly fine because Alice agrees with it. Furthermore, damages do not always have a perpetrator. Damages can also be caused by natural disasters or illness.

The above damages do not include things like adultery, giving away medical information, or walking out of a restaurant without paying the bill. These things are not regdlated by this essay. Instead, they are regdlated by agreements between the people (husband and wife; doctor and patient; or landlord and customer). This essay lets them agree on whatever they think is reasonable and then ensures that this consent is upheld (see contract and breach of contract).

# Indirect Damages

Indirect damages are cases where the responsibility shifts from the person who caused the damage to somebody else. These are
Provocation of assistance
If someone provides emergency assistance, he is not liable for the damages he causes while doing so.
Bad surprise
If someone does something normal and reasonable, he is not liable for damages that he could not foresee.
Complicity
If two people are jointly responsible for a damage, they share the liability.
Lying
If someone causes damage because he relied on some statement by somone else he is not liable for the damage.
A person can only free himself from the liability if there is someone else who can take over the liability. Furthermore, the liability can be transferred only partially. The indirect damages correspond to defenses in criminal law. They are called indirect damages in this essay because, according to the Principle of Modularity, a person will be made fully liable for the damage he caused (i.e. somone who provides emergency assistance is fully liable for the damage he causes while doing so). In a second lawsuit, he can try to have his costs refunded by the person who he thinks should be liable (i.e. in our case the person who caused the emergency).

# Resolutions

Once a damage has occurred, we have to find the perpetrator. Then, we have to identify the person who is responsible for the perpetrator (in case the perpetrator is a young child or an animal). Then, arguments have to be brought for and against the responsible. Last, a compensation, an apology and a penalty have to be determined. This process is called a resolution. Even though this essay defines resolutions in a very technical way, resolutions can also be quite informal, see here. To read about a list of limitations of this essay, go here.

This concludes the philosophical part of the essay. If you are mainly interested in the big picture, it is recommended to stick to the present section and to click on the links for further details.

# Formalizing the World

# Moral Entities

We will now define the beings that can be involved in offenses. The picture on the right gives an idea of the subsequent technical definitions.
# Actor
An entity capable of acting, namely animals and corporate bodies.
We define “actors” both by intension (i.e. by giving their properties) and by extension (i.e. by enumerating the beings that are actors). Unfortunately, the definition of “corporate bodies” depends recursively on “actor”, so that none of them can be defined without the other.
# Moral object
An entity worth of protection, namely plants and actors.
# Human
A living instance of the species of homo sapiens sapiens. Humans are animals and thus actors and moral subjects.
Dead people are no moral objects. They do not have any rights. The reason is that dead people cannot suffer. However, dead people are protected under some circumstances, including the following: This essay protects the unborn child against violence, because the unborn child is a moral object. However, this essay does allow abortion.
# Child
A human who has not completed full basic school education.
Once someone has completed high school, the person no longer counts as a child. This shall be approximately at the age of 18. This definition shall encourage both parents and child to engage in the child’s education.
# Young child
A child whose level of education is below a certain group- and nation-dependent standard.
A child below a certain educational level counts as a young child. This shall be approximately at the age of 14. Young children cannot be perpetrators of offenses.
# Parents of a child
His biological parents. Parenthood can be transferred by contract to other moral subjects, if the child is incapable of deciding or agrees.
Any harmful transfer of parenthood constitutes an offense as dereliction.
# Moral subject
An actor responsible for his actions, namely mentally able, adult humans and corporate bodies.
# Corporate body
A group of moral subjects who subscribed to a contract that defines
This interface contract ensures that the law can treat corporate bodies and humans alike. The law can find a corporate body to be the perpetrator of an offense and it can charge the corporate body. Note that if a member of the body claims wrongly that he acts in the name of the corporate body, the blame will not fall on the corporate body. Instead, the person will be held responsible for his actions and in addition, he will be charged with lying (i.e. claiming something that is false).

Note that there is an easy default form of the interface contract: No action is performed by the body and the body does not have any property. Since moreover contracts can have quite an informal character, any group of persons with a common goal can form a corporate body. This corresponds to the “civil law association” in the Civil Codes (“Gesellschaft Bürgerlichen Rechts”, “GbR” in German) .

# Natural corporate body
A corporate body with the following interface contract :
This is a technical notion to simplify talking about a group of people as a unit.
# Speaker
An entity capable in principle of speaking and listening, i.e., humans and corporate bodies.
Speakers will be subjects and objects of declarations.
# Mother Nature
A fictional moral object that represents the ensemble of animals and plants.
This essay is based on the Harm principle, i.e., something is an offense only if there is a victim. The victim is not obvious in the case of littering. Therefore, we need the concept of Mother Nature to punish littering as trespassing.
# Charity
A corporate body that serves moral objects who cannot free themselves on their own from unjust damage.
Some people have disadvantages that are not their own fault. This includes, e.g., handicaps or illnesses. We need charities to take care for these people. The laws of this essay will produce values that do not belong to anybody (namely penalties and ownerless heritage). These values will be given to charities to support their work.

# Events and States

# Principle of difference
The fact that the choice of representation has no effect under the following circumstances:
Example: It does not matter whether the value of a thing is measured in dollars, in cents or in euros.
We will encounter representations that seem completely ill-defined. Fortunately, these representations will work fine in spite of their arbitrariness thanks to the principle of difference.
# State
An atomic proposition or a set thereof.
Example: “Alonso’s car is red”
This essay assumes that definite propositions can be made. It will not deal with the well-known problems of this assumption, such as vagueness, undefinedness or missing knowledge. For most common applications, binary logic is fully sufficient.
# State of X
A state involving X.
Example: “Alonso’s car is red” is a state of Alonso’s car.
# Event
A pair of different states.
An example of states and events.
The notions of “events” and “states” build up our model of the course of time. We see the course of time as a (linear) graph, in which the events lead from one state to the following. Obviously, this model is a rough simplification, which is far to coarse to express everything that happens. Its granularity has to be chosen depending on the application. The model allows different formalizations for the same course of time. Fortunately, courses of time will be used only to make comparisons with other courses of time, so that the Principle of Difference applies.
# Action
A self-determined physical effort by an actor.
Example: Raising one’s hand.
Example: Holding down the accelerator in a car.
Non-Example: Being pushed down the stairs.
# Necessary event
An event that can commonly be predicted by the laws of nature.
Example:
State1: A cup is placed 3 m above ground, there is no obstacle in the way to the ground and no other force is involved
State2: The cup is crashed on the ground
Non-Example:
State1: A dice is thrown
State2: The dice shows the number 4.
Of course, the laws of nature entail that a dice falls in such a way that it shows a specific number. However, this strict notion of natural predestination proves unhandy for this essay, since events of this kind cannot be predicted. A very strict notion of natural predestination, together with a physical view of the human brain, could even entail that the behavior of humans can be predicted by the laws of nature. To circumvent this question, this essay adopts a less strict notion of natural predestination: events are only necessary if they can be predicted with current means. Hence, random events and human behavior are considered non-necessary events. The relation of necessary events between states is transitive.
# Possible event
An event leading to a state that
Example:
State1: I’m sitting and nothing prevents me from standing up
State2: I’m standing
Non-Example:
State1: There is no cloud in the sky
State2: It’s raining
The fact that it is not raining is a necessary consequence of State1.
Non-Example:
State1: Alonso is an analphabet.
State2: Alonso writes a letter.
The second state contradicts the ability of an animal.
Every necessary event is possible.
# Probability of an event from a state S1 to a state S2
The number of times where a state comparable to S2 happened after states comparable to S1, divided by the number of previous distinct states comparable to S1.
Unfortunately, the definition of probability is very vague. Assume for example that Alonso’s car is red and Alonso paints his car green. What is the probability of this event? Depending on how the question is phrased, different values result: Careful abstractionis necessary to determine the probability of a state, because the probability will be used to estimate how common a state is. If a state is common, it is expected that people take it into account when they plan their actions. The probability of a necessary event is 1.0.
# Possible course of time
A sequence of states connected by possible events.
# Real course of time
The sequence of states in reality.
# Closest reasonable course of time
A sequence of states such that
The closest reasonable course of time is used to estimate the “usual” consequences of an action. In this course of time, everything happens as it happens in the real course of time, but humans act in a “reasonable” way. This means that they try to minimize damage and in particular that they do not cause unjust damage.
# Hypothetical course of time without an event E
The real course of time, where E is left out and subsequent impossible events are left out as well.
Example: The hypothetical course of time without an the event of Alonso shooting Bertram in the head will not contain a state where Bertram has a hole in the head.
In contrast to the possible and reasonable courses of time, the hypothetical course of time mirrors reality as closely as possible. It is a formal variant of the “ceteris paribus” argumentation.
# Agent of a state X
An actor, such that the hypothetical course of time without an action by that actor does not lead to X at the time of X. If there are two actions that can be left away alternatively, but not cumulatively, both actors are agents (“double causality”).
This is a formalized version of the “conditio sine qua non” principle. We are trying to determine whether a certain action caused a certain state. For this purpose, we imagine that the action did not take place and we see if the state would still appear. If the state would not appear, the action caused the state. Note that by this definition, the grandma is an agent of her grandson stealing a car, because she gave birth to the person who gave birth to the grandson. So, without her, the theft could not have happened and she is an agent. This problem is solved in different ways: This essay will try another solution, although this solution is also imperfect.

The notion of double causality is necessary to avoid the problem of cumulative actions: Imagine that Alonso and Bertram each give a deadly portion of poison to Cedrick (2 actions). Cedrick dies. Each of the two actions can be left away without helping Cedrick. But if both actions are left away, Cedrick survives. Hence, both Alonso and Bertram are the agents of Cedrick’s death. Double causality includes the case in which it cannot be determined which action exactly caused the damage. The standard example is the car accident, in which a car hits a biker and causes deadly injuries. Some seconds later, a lorry passes by and also causes deadly injuries. The biker is brought to a hospital, but dies. It cannot be determined which injuries exactly caused the death. So both the lorry driver and the car driver count as agents.

# Direct agent of a state
The agent of the state, whose action is the latest among the agents of the state. If both actions took place at the same time, both agents are direct agents. They are taken together as a natural corporate body, with the responsibility distributed among them according to the ease with which they could have avoided the damage.
This essay will take the direct agent of a damage as responsible for the damage. That means: the last agent in a chain of agents is the direct agent. The problem is that, according to this definition, someone who steps on a land mine is himself responsible. As a way out, this essay provides the offense of “bad surprise” (sb.). Different cases of direct agents can be imagined: Since multiple agents are taken together as a natural corporate body, this essay talks of “the direct agent”.
# Indirect agent of a state
An agent of the state, who is not a direct agent.

# Declarations

# Domain of a moral subject
The property and data storage of a speaker, and all property and data storage put in the domain by contract.
The domain of a person notably includes all computer equipment of that person. Since the domain can be transferred by contract, people can, e.g., rent disk space to other people.
# Transmission
The transfer of data from one domain to another one by technical means or by a human in the presence of the original data.
“Transmission” is any copying of data by technical or systematic means. This includes making a digital copy, but also transcribing a book manually (with the book and the sheet of paper side by side). It is not a “transmission” if you read something, and then remember it and write it down.
# Declaration of a moral subject X to a speaker Y
A statement made by X to Y, if it obeys certain nation-dependent criteria. In particular, a declaration is made by A declaration can only be used for legal claims if it is uttered with appropriate seriousness.
It is non-trivial to determine when a declaration has actually been completed: Consider a mail that is lost or not read, a letter that is written without the intention of sending it and which is then found and sent by somebody else, a sign that is put up but not read, a declaration in a language that the addressee does not understand, a declaration made to or by a machine, or a gesture that has different meanings for different people. This essay accepts a flow of data as a declaration only if it fulfills certain standard criteria. These criteria are highly contingent. They depend on the nation of the addressee (for the choice of language), the cultural enviroment (to determine whether a statement is serious or just a joke), the technical state of development (to estimate the period of time needed to find and read an e-mail), and time (to comply with new ways of communication) and the general environment (to determine the meaning of gestures). Hence this essay cannot name the criteria. Usually, the national Civil Code contains useful criteria.

Phrases are to be taken seriously only if they are uttered with seriousness. Set phrases, e.g., shall not be taken literally if they imply damage to the utterer. For instance, imagine that Alonso proposes to Bertram to go on a 4-week hike through the inner Congolese jungle. Bertram answers politely “What a cute idea”. Bertram’s reaction cannot be understood as an consent, because

In such a case, Alonso should ask Bertram to agree explicitly.

The question of what humans actually mean when they speak is enormeously complicated, especially because a declaration shall comprise all of its implications (the so-called implicatures). The study of pragmatics is dedicated to this issue. To determine the meaning of a statement, this essay proposes the following simplistic procedure as a rough guideline.

# Meaning of a verbal declaration
The statement determined as follows: Collect the set of all meanings that could be intended by the speaker. Delete from this set all meanings that are tautological. If the set contains more than one meaning, delete from the set all meanings that could easily be expressed more explicitly. If the set is singleton, this is the meaning of the utterance. Add the logical implications of the meaning and its presuppositions (i.e. the facts that have to be true to make the statement a reasonable statement), to get the complete meaning.
Consider some examples of utterances:
“Do you like dancing?”
Reasonable meanings:
  1. “I would like to go dancing with you”
  2. “I would just like to know whether you like dancing”
None of these meanings is tautological. It is easy to express the first meaning more explicitly, namely by the phrase “I would like to go dancing with you”. By contrast, it is clumsy to express the second meaning more explicitly. Hence it is reasonable to assume the second meaning.
“I will be at the party tomorrow”
Reasonable meanings:
  1. “I will definitively be at the party tomorrow“
  2. “I am planning to be at the party tomorrow, but I’m not yet sure”
None of these meanings is tautological. It is easy to express the second meaning more explicitly — simply by saying “I plan to be at the party tomorrow”. By contrast, it is not trivial to express the first meaning in a simpler way than by the above statement. Hence this statement is to be considered a promise. This interpretation urges people to be careful what they say. But after all, statements are made for other people to rely on them.
Note that this procedure may result in no meaning at all, or in multiple meanings. In that case, you should clarify the speaker’s intention by asking him. The Indian Nod principle applies.
# Serious declaration
A declaration that A declaration is not serious if the speaker declares, either explicitly or through the form of presentation, that his declaration does not necessarily correspond to the truth.
When someone says something wrong, we can charge him with lying. This, however, works only if the speaker made his statement with appropriate seriousness. The conditions above define what “appropriate seriousness” is.

If the speaker says that his statements are hypothetical, or that he does not take responsibility for their truth, then he does not lie. This can happen through the form of presentation. A novel, e.g., is not supposed to represent the truth and is hence not a lie.

# Gesture
A movement of the human body that is commonly understood as a declaration.
Declarations can be made by gestures. Nodding, for example, counts as an acceptance in Western European countries. Clicking on some button on the Internet also counts as a declaration. Declarations may be nested and combined. E.g. by entering an auction hall, you agree that raising your hand counts as a declaration that you will buy the item.
# Indian Nod Principle
The principle that a declaration means what its sender and receiver agree it to mean.
If two people agree that between them, a gesture or an utterance shall have a different meaning, then this is the meaning that counts. It is irrelevant what other people think about the utterance, because a declaration happens only between a sender and a receiver — and not with a third observer. Take as an example the gesture of shaking the head. In Europe, shaking the head means “no”. In India, a similar gesture means “yes”. Thus, when two Indians talk, shaking the head means “yes”. If they travel to Europe and talk to each other, then shaking the head still means “yes” to them — no matter what the Europeans think.
# Service consent
The action where a speaker creates damage, if (1) the speaker knows that this damage counts as acceptance of a declaration, and (2) that declaration is accessible to the speaker. A service consent is a declaration of the speaker to the victim of the damage.
A service consent allows service providers to bind certain obligations to certain customer actions. Examples include:
Entering a train
The damage is trespassing the service provider’s territory. The declaration accepted by the customer are the terms of service.
Entering an auction hall
Again, the damage is trespassing. By trespassing, the customer accepts that by raising his hand he buys the item that is being auctioned.
Taking a newspaper out of a sell box
The damage is theft. The customer agrees to pay the price noted on the sell box.
Entering private property
If a sign at the entrance of a museum prohibits photography, then the customer makes a promise not to take pictures by entering the museum.
The customer shall know that he agrees to some declaration and he shall have easy access to that declaration. Note that a declaration cannot be made by refraining from doing something. The latin phrase “Quis tacit consentire videtur” (“Who does not speak seems to agree”) does not apply.
# Promise
A declaration by a moral subject X of the form “X will do...”.
By making a promise a special kind of declaration, lying and breaking promises can be treated in the same way.
# Contract between two moral subjects
Two mutual promises.
There are different forms of a contract. The most common form of a contract is a declaration on a sheet of paper that both parties sign. This is to be understood as a promise by each party to fulfill its respective requirements. The contract is not to be understood as the declaration of one party that the other party will fulfill its respective requirements!

A contract can also be established without writing. Since declarations can be quite informal, a simple verbal consent already constitutes a contract. Since a declaration can also be made implicitly (e.g. by entering a restaurant), contracts may even spring to life without a single spoken word (see the definition of declaration).

The technically cleanest form of a contract is the following:

Alonso says: “If you promise to do Y then I will do X”
Bertram says: “I will do Y”
where X is supposed to be beneficial to Bertram and Y is supposed to be beneficial to Alonso
In this dialogue, Alonso offers a contract to Bertram by making a conditional promise. Up to this point, neither Alonso nor Bertram are obliged to do anything. Bertram can trigger Alonso’s promise to come into effect by making a promise as well. Now Alonso is bound to do X and Bertram is bound to do Y. Usually, the national Civil Code deals with a number of special cases concerning contracts. For example, it has to be clarified what shall happen if one party makes the other party’s promise impossible to fulfill. This essay leaves these decisions to the parties. However, the parties are invited to use the definitions of the national Civil Code (or of any other common set of definitions) for their contract. For example, they can agree to engage in a purchase in the sense of the national Civil Code.

The above definition of a contract differs from the definition in the German Civil Code, where a contract consists of “two coinciding declarations of will”. With this definition, though, lying, breaking a promise and breaking a contract have to be treated separately.

# Will of an actor X
A promise by X conditioned by the death of X. The will may only affect immediate property transferrals. It may only affect the property left after other legal claims have been satisfied. By default, the will says that the property shall belong to a charity that agrees to take it.
By the will, a person may bequeath his property to a heir. The heir needs to declare that he accepts the property, so that a contract results and the property gets transferred. If the will does not exist, if the actor is incapable of making promises (if he is an animal, e.g.), if the heir does not accept the property, if the property transfer is not immediate or if the will does not specify a heir for a property, the will automatically counts as a declaration that gives the property to a charity. If a charity agrees, a contract results and the property is transferred. By this mechanism, X can bind the heirs to a certain behavior if they accept the heritage. For example, a heir may own the house if he agrees not to sell it etc..

The concept of heritage poses the question whether a death duty is reasonable. Without a death duty, the heir of a millionaire does not have to work, because he could simply have his father’s money work for him. Although this does not cause damage to anybody (on the contrary), it might be a fair assumption that everybody should work to earn his livings. Under this assumption, we may give part of the heritage to a charity. This would greatly benefit the community, but it would not cause damage, because, under the assumption, earning his livings is not a damage to the heir. Since people can circumvent death duties by transferring property before their death, one could envisage that people can never own land, but only lease it from the state for a fixed period of time (say, 50 years). After that period has elapsed, the lease has to be prolonged. This avoids the accumulation of land in one family’s hands. This principle is implemented, e.g., in Singapore.

# Intellectual Property

# Intellectual property
Data that (1) was created by a speaker, (2) can be transmitted without losing its principal character, and (3) cannot be reproduced by a normally skilled human after a few enjoyments.
This essay protects intellectual property in the form of any data whose principal character is not lost if it is copied by technical or systematic means. This includes software, pictures, books, emails, and all other types of copyable artworks. Thereby, this essay treats copyright, patents, personal communication, and software licenses in the same way.

Intellectual property is protected in 4 stages:

  1. Before publication, the intellectual property may not be enjoyed — unless authorized by the creator.
  2. Once the intellectual property is published, but its term has not yet expired, it may be enjoyed by whoever obtains a lawful copy and by his personal circle.
  3. After the term expired, the work can be enjoyed freely, but the creator can still claim credit for the work.
  4. When the creator dies, he can no longer claim credit for the work. However, the work is still protected against plagiarism.

Data that can be memorized by a human is not protected. This allows citations and summaries of intellectual property. It also disallows copyrighting words or patenting trivial mechanisms. Human nature as a yardstick may seem highly arbitrary as a choice. However, the argument goes as follows: In early times, there was no notion of copyright. People would just copy other people’s ideas, stories, or musical tunes. The problem appeared when recording became available. Then, creative works could become so complex that people expected to be paid for it. We would like people to pay for books, CDs, or software. So, in order to draw the line where complexity begins, this essay says that anything that requires recording is worthy of protection.

# Rights holder of intellectual property
The creator of the intellectual property, or any speaker to whom the rights were transferred by contract.
This essay declares enjoyment of intellectual property as intellectual theft. The creator can agree to that theft in exchange for money. The creator can also sell this right to someone else by either giving away the primary copy of the data (e.g., a painted picture), or by transferring the right through contract.
# Personal circle for a person and a piece of data
A set of at most 100 people per year, chosen by the person for that piece of data.
If the creator distributes his intellectual property outside his personal circle, this counts as a publication. A person who receives intellectual property has the right to share it in his personal circle. People can also talk about other people in their personal circle.
# Personal use of intellectual property by a person
The enjoyment of the intellectual property by the personal circle of the person (without copying the data).
This essay will allow enjoyment of intellectual property by default for personal use (see intellectual theft). For simplicity, personal use is defined as enjoyment in the personal circle. This prohibits radio broadcasting, television broadcasting, and putting the work on the Internet, but allows lending a book, having a classroom lecture with someone else’s work, or playing music at a private party. It also allows lending a book to someone in the personal circle.
# Publication of an intellectual property
The enjoyment of the intellectual property with the consent of the creator outside his personal circle.
# Term of intellectual property
A period of time after the publication of the intellectual property that depends on the type of the intellectual property. It shall be 20 years for books or comparable texts, and 7 years for pictures, music, patents, and movies.
Copyright law is a controversial issue. On one hand, a creator does not suffer if his oeuvres are copied. There is no scarcity as with physical property. Furthermore, the protection of intellectual property has led to absurd consequences. In the US, patents generate much more costs in legal litigation than license fees. Submarine patents surface after the idea has been used for decades, and generate legal insecurity. The most idiotic things receive patent protection (such as Amazon’s famous one-click sale method). The “Happy Birthday” song is copyrighted and may not be performed publicly without paying a fee to the copyright holder. The word “Helau”, the traditional exclamation at German carnival, likewise, got protected, meaning that in theory people have to pay a fee each time they shout it in public. On the other hand, we have to let creators benefit from their works, because otherwise people will not be encouraged to create such works. Medical research, in particular, takes decades of investigation. If its fruits were given away for free, no one would engage in it. The same goes for book authors. There are people who write books for a living. If we do not protect the books, then they will just be distributed for free on the Web, and downloaded on electronic readers, without the author getting a penny for it. Thus, the author will cease to write books. The same holds for software. There are companies that produce software for a living. If we do not allow the company to profit from the sale of the software, we destroy that company.

We could argue that true artists (and real programmers) produce their works not for profit, but for the enjoyment of it. There are many free software products, e.g., which are developed by the community, and there are many artists who just give away their work for free. However, at the same time, many artists and software companies do not give their work away for free. And even if there are free alternatives, people still use the non-free works. For example, there are free operating systems. Still, 90% of consumers use Microsoft Windows or Mac OS. There is also free music by amateur artists. Still, people buy CDs. This indicates that the non-free works are worth having. Furthermore, if we protect intellectual property, we do not prohibit that people make their works available for free. Creators can still do that.

One way to protect intellectual property is to count on the honesty and generosity of the users. For example, many artists make their music available for free, and then invite the user to make voluntary donations. Likewise, some software is available as “donation-ware”. This means that it can be used for free and that the client pays a voluntary amount of money to the programmer, if he decides so. This concept, however, works only because of a general awareness that the creator deserves something for his work. If we remove the concept of intellectual property from the law book, then this awareness will most likely go away. Already today, very few people are actually aware that they are using other people’s work, and that they should reward these people. For example, if we find a song for $1 on Amazon, but for free on some other Web site, then few people hesitate to download the free version. Few people have ever thought that they could pay for their virus scanner. This seems to indicate that the awareness for intellectual work is weak unless it is enforced.

The solution is to limit the protection of intellectual property in some way. Several methods can be envisaged: We could protect the property only against commercial use. The creator of the artwork would be entitled to benefits if his work is used in cinemas, concerts, books, CDs, and so on. Any other, private, use would be free of charge. This would mean, however, that the work itself has no financial value. The value would only be induced by an additional commercial service on top of it. That would mean that a work that requires no such mediation by an additional commercial service would have no financial value. E-books, e.g., can be copied and read without any commercial mediation. Music by smaller artists can be copied and played on any computer without the need for buying a CD. Software, likewise, can be copied without any commercial mediation in between. Furthermore, we will still have to come up with terms for the intellectual property, because we do want free commercial exploitation at some point of time.

Another solution is to allow the creator of the intellectual property to earn, say, 100 times the amount of money that he has spent for the creation of the work. After that, the work would be in the public domain. This would encourage people to create intellectual works, and at the same time limit the price that humanity has to pay. This solution, though, has 3 problems. First, it is difficult to estimate how much money the creator invested in the work. Does a trip to China count as an investment, if the artist needed it for inspiration? Second, the approach will allow people to sit on their intellectual property forever, if they decide to not make money from it (or do so in an inefficient way). That would be against the goal of giving the work quickly into the public domain. Third, and maybe most importantly, it would reward creators of great work with the same amount as creators of bad work. If a good author spends one year and writes a fantastic book, he should earn more money than a mediocre writer who spends one year and writes a bad book.

Therefore, a common solution is to limit the term in which intellectual property is protected. Current copyright law protects artwork for 70 years after the death of the creator. This is against the harm principle of this essay: The creator cannot be hurt by events that happen after his death. Hence, his intellectual property is not worthy of protection after his death. This essay proposes shorter terms of protection, in particular in the light of the large amount of money that media companies make. The essay limits the term of protection explicitly for some types of intellectual property. It leaves the terms for other, potentially future, types of works undefined. Such a term restriction allows copyright holders to make money from their work. At the same time, it transfers the work into the public domain quickly, even if the the creator does not make commercial use of it.

This essay protects artwork for a fixed period of time, no matter whether the creator is alive or not. This allows creators to sell the rights in the work to a company. The company can then count on income from the intellectual property no matter whether the creator dies or not.

If a term ends, the intellectual property can be used freely. This does not mean, however, that the creator of the work would have to provide the work to the public. For example, if a blog writer replaces his blog article by a slightly modified version of the blog article right before the end of the term, then a new term starts. The old article becomes free for use, but if no one has downloaded it, then no one can use it.

# Enjoyment of intellectual property
The usage of the intellectual property, also as part of another larger intellectual property.

Unless proven otherwise by the domain owner, possessing a copy of intellectual property counts as if the property would be enjoyed.

The enjoyment of a book, e.g., is reading the book. The enjoyment of music is listening to the music. The enjoyment of software is running the software. If a new oeuvre is created on the basis of an existing oeuvre, then the enjoyment of the composite oeuvre implies enjoyment of the original oeuvre.

This essay bases its protection of intellectual property on the notion of enjoyment rather than on the notion of copying and copyright. The reason is that software can be enjoyed without actually copying it. The license of a software can be adapted to use by a single person, by a department in a company, or by the entire company. Music, similarly, can be broadcast, and is thus enjoyed without being copied. The license for music depends on whether the music is played at home, at a public concert, or whether it is made available on the Internet.

It is assumed that whoever possesses a copy of the artwork also enjoys it. Thus, proof of possession is enough to prove intellectual theft, unless the owner can prove that he did not enjoy the artwork. This is the case, e.g., for search engines that cache Web pages.

There is some debate as to whether “fair use” of a copyrighted work should permit posting excerpts of it — such as a 10 second excerpt of a song on Wikipedia, a 2 page excerpt of a book in a magazine, or a 30 second teaser of a movie on Youtube. This essay does not permit such a possibility. The reason is that if the creator envisages such a possibility, he can always publish the excerpt on his own without any strings attached. Then Wikipedia, the magazine, or Youtube can pick it up. If the creator makes no such choice, then others should not do it for him. The reason is that such excerpts can be put together to form the whole. They can also misrepresent the work.

# Artwork creation
The action where a speaker labels data as his creation, and transmits it. Artwork creation counts as a declaration to the receiver that the data contains no one else’s intellectual property, unless marked.
Artwork creation requires the labeling of other people’s intellectual property in one’s own work. If this is not done, the creator effectively plagiarizes the other people’s work. This is a special form of lying to the receiver of the work.

This offense concerns the person who receives the work, and who is misled by the sender. In addition, and in a separate case, the creator of the embedded work can demand credit for his work.

# Public speech
A state where a speaker makes a declaration to the public, decides over the public, or commits an offense.
# Display of data
Making available, transmitting, or permitting a copy of data. Display of data counts as a declaration that the rights holders of all intellectual property embedded in the data agree to unlimited personal use by the receiver.

If (1) the data is installed permanently, and perceivable in public space, or (2) the data is made available freely on the Internet by the rights holder, or (3) the data is produced during a public speech, then the data display allows unlimited enjoyment by the public.

These declarations take effect only if the provider does not object explicitly. If the provider sends the data, he can object only with prior consent by the receiver.

Display of data counts as a declaration that the data is free for personal use. Thus, if we find a movie on the Internet, we may assume that we are allowed to watch it with friends. If the movie was not free, the data provider is liable. If we want to re-publish something from the Internet, we have to make sure that (1) it was the rights owner who put the data online and (2) the rights owner does not object. The right to credit remains untouched, thus effectively putting all content under a Creative Commons Attribution licence unless otherwise noted.

It is worth considering whether data on the Internet should in general be available for arbitrary use. Yet, the Internet will most likely be the mainstream medium in the future. It will not be an exceptional space of interaction, with different laws, but the normal space of interaction. Therefore, all arguments that we bring forward to the protection of data in the real world should also apply on the Internet.

Data senders cannot object to enjoyment of the copy that they provide. Thus, if we send a letter, a mail, or a picture, we grant the receiver personal use. This includes limited enjoyment of the piece by others. If we want to make sure that the receiver treats the letter as a secret, we need a prior consent. For example, we can make the receiver promise to keep the letter secret, and then send it.

Display of data is not transitive. If I send you an email, you have the right to personal use. That means that you can show the email to your friends. However, if you share the email with your friend, you have to make sure that no more enjoyments of that email follow on the side of the friend. You can ensure this (1) by showing the email in such a way that your friend cannot copy it (i.e., by not forwarding it), (2) by making him promise that he will not share it, (3) by forwarding him the email, asking him not to share it, and trusting him or (4) by trusting that he will not share it. If an enjoyment happens outside your personal circle, either your friend will be liable (because he violated his promise) or you (if you just trusted your friend, or if you implicitly gave him the rights by forwarding the mail).

# Personality Rights

# Private information of a speaker
All data in the domain or body of that speaker that is available to the outside only through one of the following:
This definition targets de facto secrets, i.e. information that is subject to the exclusive control of a human or a group of humans. Such information may not be extracted or transmitted. The idea is that people shall protect whatever knowledge they want nobody to know. It is irrelevant what this knowledge is about. The knowledge could concern the privacy of an individual — think of diaries, private pictures, or sexual preferences. However, the knowledge could also concern business ideas or business secrets. It is irrelevant whether the person knows the secret himself or not (e.g. someone may not know whether he carries HIV or not, but he is entitled to prevent anybody from finding it out).

This essay protects the privacy of individuals in 4 layers:

  1. Private information is always protected. This information may be facts about the victim, but it can also be any other type of data over which the victim has a de facto control.
  2. Embarrassing information (even if in public) may be recorded, but not shared. Embarrassing information necessarily concerns a particular person, but it may not be shared even if it has been anonymized.
  3. Anything else about a person may be shared, but not broadcast in public.
  4. Orthogonally to all this, insults may never be shared.
What to remember before sharing a picture.
All of these layers protect the public perception of an individual or corporation. Thus, the victim of all these offenses is the person that is being talked about. This distinguishes the personality rights from lying, where the victim is the recipient of the fraudulent message. It also distinguishes personality rights from intellectual property rights, where the victim is the creator of the data. For example, if one person creates a picture of another person, intellectual property protects the creator, and personality rights protect the depicted person (see picture on the right). Lying protects the receiver from being tricked into believing that the work was done by the person who shared it.

There is a second difference between intellectual property rights and personality rights: personality rights protect even simple statements, while intellectual property rights protect stored data and exclude simple statements. For example, a business secret can be simple enough to be remembered by a human. It is thus not protected as intellectual property. But it is protected by privacy laws.

# Embarrassing information about a human
Information (in particular images or videos) about any action or state of that human that is (1) not an offense and (2) a social taboo (in particular suffering, trauma, injury, nudity, sex, urination, and defecation).
This definition targets in particular pictures of a nude person. Such pictures may not be shared — unless permitted. The reason is that such pictures can be used to embarrass, to blackmail, or to pressure that person. Thus, the possession of a nude picture gives the owner a de facto control over the victim. There have been cases where this has been used to push the victim to commit suicide.

This is sad, because the pressure comes solely from the stigma that our society attaches to nudity. In the ideal world, we would re-educate our society so as to de-stigmatize nudity. However, this is unlikely to happen in the near future. Therefore, this essay declares sharing such pictures an offense. This also means that it is an offense to use them for blackmailing.

Normally, one would expect people to be in private when they are nude. However, even pictures taken legitimately in private have to be protected against further sharing. Moreover, moments of suffering, injury, and even nudity can appear also in public. The offense of exposure provides a comprehensive protection against such embarrassments.

We could also completely prohibit the creation or possession of embarrassing material. However, if someones observes another person in an embarrassing situation, then this event becomes part of the observer’s life as well. Thus, the observer shall have the right to record this event (think of bodycams). However, he may not share this information. This constitutes a compromise between the right of privacy for the depicted person, and the right to document one’s own life for the observer.

# Broadcasting of information
Sharing the information outside the personal circle — by declaration, transmission, or enjoyment.
# Personally identifiable information for a speaker
Any information that distinguishes the speaker from all (or nearly all) other speakers in the long term (in particular the full name, the physical address, a picture in good resolution, or a recording of the voice).
Much of our life depends on how society sees us. As David Solove argues in his Taxonomy of Privacy, the loss of social regard can have deleterious effects on one’s wealth, prosperity, and employment. A company might not hire someone if it has figured out that this person had a particular disease; a businessman might lose clients if his voting preferences become known; a person might be mobbed on the Web; the name of a sportsperson might be used without his consent to advertise a shower gel; or the trademark of a company might be used in counterfeit merchandise. To avoid these harms, this essay grants individuals and businesses control over their image in the public eye. This control takes a very general form: Personally identifiable information of others may not be broadcast to the public. This means that it is prohibited to post pictures of others on the Web, to name others publicly, or to tell unrelated people what someone said in private. This covers the crimes of Identification, Disclosure, Appropriation, and Distortion in Solove’s terms. An exception applies only if the entity acted in public.

It is highly controversial whether we may take pictures of people and use them. DougNZ provides a survey of regulations in many countries [Worldwide Photographer’s Rights]. These vary from very restrictive (virtually no use of pictures, as in Germany) to very liberal (everything is allowed, as in the US). We could say that everything that happens in a public space can also be distributed in a public space. Following this argument, it is no different whether I see a person in public, or whether someone else sees that person in public and sends me a picture of them. Furthermore, future on-body devices will most likely monitor anyway everything we see and hear. It would be implausible to require that pictures of other people be removed from these data streams. An extrapolation of this setting is discussed in Antoine Amarilli: Privacy in public space. On the other hand, people do not like it if their picture is distributed in public. This holds even more so if the person is known in public, and if the picture shows the person in an unpleasant situation. Therefore, this essay prohibits the public sharing of portraits.

Independently of the rights of the portrayed person, the creator of the portrait has intellectual property rights in the image — as he does with any other image he creates.

This essay does not distinguish between a photo and a recording of someone’s voice. Thus, this essay permits recording someone’s voice as long as this is not shared publicly. This is a very controversial stance. In Germany, for example, it is prohibited to record someone’s voice. This essay acknowledges the controversy, but follows a liberal interpretation of justice: By talking, we influence someone else’s life. Therefore, we become part of that person’s life, and that person has a right to the content of the conversation.

# Compensation

# Property
A given partial function in time from a thing to an actor (i.e. an assignment of things to actors). Property can be transferred to another actor by If a thing is composed of multiple things belonging to the same owner, the composed thing is owned by that owner. Analogously, all parts of a thing owned by a owner belong to that owner. The body of an animal belongs to that animal.
Property” in itself is nothing else than an arbitrary relation. It cannot be determined from the nature of a thing or from a person’s dealing with the thing. Note that you cannot get rid of property except by contract.
# Knowledge
A certain relation between a moral subject and a state. It is assumed that a moral subject knows about a state if
The notion of knowledge is a mental notion. Philosophers are of the opinion that mental notions cannot be defined convincingly on principle. Therefore, this essay simply assumes that in certain situations, a person does know something. If the person does not know about a state although one of the above criteria applies, the person should at least know about the state. This assumption shall encourage people to walk through their life with at least a minumum amount of attention. Furthermore, a state counts as known if the person says that the state is known (by the the Dixit-Principle, see lying).

The notion of knowledge is central to define denial of assistance: A person can only help somebody in an emergency if he knows about the emergency.

# Desire
A certain relation between a moral subject and a state. It is assumed that a moral subject desires a state if
It is important to know whether a state is desired or not. If a state is damaging and it is not desired, we need to prevent it (see obligatory assitance).
Promised states are always desired. Thus, if Alonso sells his car, the damage that results (namely the loss of his car) is desired. Hence the damage is no unjust damage and we do not need to prevent it (see obligatory assistance). Likewise, an action by a moral subject implies that all its highly probably consequences are desired. For example, if Alonso enjoys shooting at his own car, then the consequence that the car is damaged is extremely likely. Hence we may assume that Alonso desired to destroy his car. Hence the damage does not constitute unjust damage and we do not need to prevent it (see again obligatory assistance). Furthermore, a state counts as desired if the person says that the state is desired (by the the Dixit-Principle, see lying).

As the notion of knowledge, the notion of desire is a mental notion. It is hard to define it convincingly. Therefore, this essay simply assumes that a person desires a state if certain conditions are given. Naturally, a person may also desire a state if these conditions are not given. For this essay, though, it is only important to define when we can be sure that a person desires something. It does not matter if the conditions do not catch all cases where people desire something.

# Consent to a damage
The desire of a moral subject that a damage happens to him.
Moral subjects can agree to a damage, and thus make it non-unjust.
# Compensation for a damage D
The value of the effort that is necessary to pass from the states given by the closest reasonable course of time with D to the states given by the closest reasonable course of time without D, as far as the former is unjust damage to the victim compared to the latter.
By default, the compensation shall be restoring the current state to the state without the damage plus the value that would need to be paid to a third person to undergo the damage from its beginning to its end. Subsequent more specific definitions of compensation override this definition.
The compensation aims at making up for suffered damage. This includes all disadvantages entailed by the damage, be they before or after the resolution. The default definition suggests the following: First, the state without the damage has to be restored (e.g. for an injury, the injury has to be healed). Then, the victim has to be compensated for the duration of the damage. This value is estimated by the amount that would be necessary to have a third person undergo that damage (e.g. for an injury, one asks for how much money someone else would be willing to undergo the injury, provided that the healing costs are already paid). The compensation concerns all states following the original damage that are unjust damage (consequential losses). Note that these losses may well continue beyond the timepoint of the resolution. These losses are computed as the difference of two closest reasonable courses of times, without involving the real course of time. This is because the compensation shall only comprise the “usual”, predictable consequences of D. Consider some special cases:
Compensation does not cover other unjust damages.
Example: Alonso’s car is stolen. Alonso decides to walk instead of driving, falls into a drain and breaks his leg. This damage is not covered by the compensation for the car theft, because in reasonable courses of time, people do not suffer accidents (which fall under the definition of unjust damages).
Compensation covers consequential losses.
Example: A machine in Alonso’s factory is destroyed. Hence Alonso cannot use the machine for production. However, he is assumed to use the machine in the closest reasonable course of time without the destruction. Hence the loss in productivity is covered by the compensation.
Compensation does not cover unreasonable behavior.
Example: A machine in Alonso’s factory is destroyed. Alonso decides to cease production completely, although the remaining machines could continue production. However, he is assumed to continue production with the remaining machines in the closest reasonable course of time despite the destruction. Hence this additional loss is not covered by compensation.
Compensation covers contingent events.
Example: A fire-extinguisher in Alonso’s house is stolen. A fire breaks out and the house burns down. In the closest reasonable course of time without the theft, the fire would have broken out as well. However, in this course of time, Alonso would have extinguished the fire with the fire-extinguisher. Hence the compensation for the theft covers the house. That means: Whoever stole the fire extinguisher is liable for the destruction of the house.

Example: Alonso’s lotto coupon is stolen. In the lottey, it turns out that the lotto coupon would have won. Hence the compensation covers the lotto win. This may seem unfair. On the other hand, winning the lottery is the very purpose of the lotto coupon — exactly like extinguishing fires is the purpose of the fire-extinguisher. The value of a thing comprises the value of its use.

# Undesired damage
A damage that is not desired by the victim.
Here, we reduce the three-valued logic to a two-valued logic: A state can be This essay merges the last two cases to “undesired”. If something is not explicitly desired, it counts as undesired. Hence by default, all damages are undesired. Furthermore, all damages to (non-human) animals are undesired, because animals are not capable of declaring. By the principle “You cannot commit an offence against yourself”, any desired damage will be ignored by this moral framework.
# Unjust damage
An undesired damage that is not the compensation, apology or penalty entailed by a resolution.
unjust damage is the kind of damage we want to prevent.
# Expected damage
A set of damages that will happen in possible courses of time. The value of an expected damage is the sum of the compensations for the damages, weightened by the probabilities of the respective courses of time.
A damage may be expected although the victim is undetermined. Imagine for instance that our rascal Alonso covers an open drain with cardboard. It is highly probable that someone will step on the cardboard and fall into the drain. Although it is unknown who will fall into the drain, the damage is expected. Its value boils down to the probability of anybody falling into the drain multiplied by the value of the injury.

We need the notion of expected damage to quantify how dangerous a behavior is.

# Severe damage
One of the following:
Severe damages are the ones that have to be prevented at all cost. Nobody can be expected to undergo severe damage, even if that could serve a higher purpose.
# Refundable assistance
Actions by a moral subject that reduce the value of unjust expected damage under the following conditions:
Least damage
There are no less damaging actions that could be performed by the moral subject to reduce the expected damage
Adequacy
The damage and effort caused by the actions is less than the reduction OR
the damage affects the responsible or the direct agent of the expected damage directly
No severe damage
If the damage caused by the actions is severe, the reduction of the expected damage must be immediate.
The value of refundable assistance is the compensation for the damage caused to the helper.
Refundable assistance defines the circumstances in which someone who helps in an emergency case may expect to be compensated for his efforts. Usually, this applies to the case where a helper prevents a perpetrator from committing an offense. Since this essay focuses on the rights of the victim, it is legal to prevent an offense even though the perpetrator of that offense suffers more through the prevention than the victim would have suffered through the offense. This view is shared by the German Criminal Law, which distinguishes “Notwehr” (actions against the perpetrator) from “Notstand” (actions against other people).

Any reduction of the expected damage is valuable, no matter whether the damage is actually prevented in the real course of time.

The compensation for refundable assistance is the damage caused to the helper (see provocation of assistance). This includes any loss of property as well as the effort itself (which counts as obstruction) and any offenses committed by the helper.

The assistance should not cause more damage than the expected damage, i.e. the effort of the helper is bound from above by the reduction of the expected damage — unless the damage affects the perpetrator of the expected damage directly. This direct effect means that the perpetrator must be the immediate victim of the damage, if the damage caused by the assistance exceeds the expected damage. This definition is necessary because any damage caused by the assistance affects the perpetrator on the long run, since he has to refund the assistance. Severe damages count more than other types of damage. Severe damages among themselves are compared as usual. As a result, any assistance that prevents severe damage is adequate, as long as it does not cause more severe damage. If severe damage is used, its benefit must be immediate. It is not allowed to use severe damage to coerce somebody into doing something (torture is prohibited). The reason is that it may be impossible to determine whether the person can fulfill the demand or not. Torturing thus always bears the danger of unjustly causing severe harm in vain.

# Obligatory assistance
Refundable assistance under the following additional conditions:
Perpetrator can pay
The perpetrator of the expected damage is likely to be able to refund the assistance
No severe damage
The assistance does not cause severe damage to moral objects other than the perpetrator.
No danger
It is certain that the assistance causes less damage to moral objects other than the perpetrator than the expected damage.
Knowledge
The helper knows about the expected damage and is able to help
Victim can’t help himself or silent suffering
The damage caused by the assistance is less than the effort of actions by the victim that could prevent the expected damage OR
the helper is the victim of the expected damage and the helper knows that the perpetrator is a moral subject who does not know about the expected damage (“silent suffering”).
No reflexivity
The helper is not a responsible of the damage
Obligatory assistance defines the conditions under which assistance is not only refundable, but also mandatory (see the Principle of Universal Responsibility). Whoever sees a moral object in danger shall rush to help. However, we know that millions of people live in danger (they starve, they are persecuted, or they suffer from illness). We cannot be morally obliged to help all of them. This is why there are so many restrictions to obligatory assistance, in particular: Perpetrators are not obliged to help in their own offenses, since this would result in a double penalty (first for the offense and then for denial of assistance). In certain cases the victim of an offense can be obliged to help himself, namely if he knows that the perpetrator is unaware of the damage he is causing (silent suffering). It is sufficient for the victim to tell the perpetrator about the damage he is causing. If the victim continues suffering and does not inform the perpetrator, the victim becomes partly responsible himself, committing a denial of assistance.

The obligatory assistance is an “obligatory purchase”: The helping person is obliged to help and the victim is obliged to “buy” this assistance, i.e. to compensate the effort. If an offense is prevented, the wannabe-perpetrator will have to pay for the prevention.

# Damage

The following chapters define states that count as damage. If a damage requires a compensation other than the default value, the definition of the damage will mention this explicitly.

# Physical Damage

# Property violation
A state of a thing that The perpetrator in the second case is the one who withholds the thing. The perpetrator in the third case is the one who receives the property.
This definition comprises a wide range of property damages. For example, any transferral of property counts as damage. Thus, the compensations and penalties are damages (albeit not unjust damages). Withholding property is also a property violation, because a moral object may become owner of a thing, but be denied access to the thing. Note that even each change of a thing is a damage to the owner.

The compensation for a property violation is, as the default definition suggests, giving back the thing and making up for the period of loss.

# Injury
A non-normal state of the living body, in particular an unpleasant, disabling or disfiguring state.
The compensation for an injury is, as the default definition suggests, the cost for healing and a compensation for the suffering.
# Sexual assault
One of the following states: with a human victim. Reciprocation or explicit unambiguous invitation counts as consent. The damage is larger if the victim is a child.
This definition includes rape. Sexual assault is a highly culture-dependent offense. This essay takes a Western view, counting only the crudest sexual assaults as offenses. In order not to hinder consensual sexual activity, we have to count reciprocation and invitation as consent.
# Trespass
A state in which an entity that does not belong to an actor is located on the area owned by that actor. The area owner has to declare where his area begins.

A trespass is also committed by leaving objects on public ground, with the victim being Mother Nature.

By defining trespassing in this general way, both walking on somebody else’s territory and placing garbage on his territory count as damage. The compensation for a trespass is, as the default definition suggests, the removal of the entity.

Littering is an offense against Mother Nature, i.e., the ensemble of plants and animals in that area. Because mother Nature is non-human, it will be represented by a lawyer and the penalty will go to a charity, see resolutions.

# Obstruction
A state in which an actor cannot do something that is possible and that is not unjust damage. This includes moving to some free place on common area or on his own area.
Obstruction includes imprisonment as well as locking up a person by owning areas surrounding that person’s area. Also, participating in a resolution counts as obstruction. The compensation for obstruction means freeing the actor and giving him the possibility to do again what he could not do. This includes e.g. the refunding of missed concert tickets etc.. The definition of compensation makes sure that the victim cannot claim compensation for several simultaneous activities.

Obstruction raises the question of whether livestock may be kept, because keeping the animals means locking them up. Admittedly, it is disputable whether mankind shall keep livestock at all, given that one could in principle live without animal products. For pragmatic reasons, however, this essay allows keeping and eating livestock (see Food Killing). The essay limits itself to asking farmers to keep their livestock in a reasonable environment and asking customers to buy products that have been produced without harming animals. The idea is that if the livestock is kept in a nearly natural environment, the damage to them should be minimal. Furthermore, the damage should be weighted against the use for mankind.

# Killing
The state where the life of an animal ends. The compensation for death is the value that is necessary to raise another animal of the same kin. If it is impossible to raise another animal of the same kin, the compensation shall be bounded reasonably. If the victim was not a human, the compensation is payable to a charity engaged in raising animals of the victim’s kin.
Killing seems to be one of the most obvious offenses, yet its justification is tricky: If somebody is killed without suffering, then the damage to the victim is not obvious. How does the value of the state of being dead compare to the value of life? If the person believed in paradise, his death may even improve his state. However, from its secular point of view, this essay assumes death to be a damage. If the victim was a human, the compensation and apology are paid to the victim (and get transferred to the heirs immediately by means of the will). If the victim was no human, these values go to a charity. The idea is to “make up” for the death of an animal by raising another one of the same kin. Thereby, the “damage” done to the environment by the loss of an animal shall be compensated. This valuation mirrors approximately our understanding of bad killings and tolerable killings: Killing a fly is not as bad as killing a cat, because it takes more effort to raise a cat than to raise a fly. Furthermore, killing animals of a rare species (like whales) is very bad, because it is very difficult to raise another one of their kin. It may even be impossible. In this case, the compensation would be infinitely large and has to be limited reasonably.

The German Criminal Law does not punish killings of animals unless it provokes public anger. Apart from the fact that it is a pity that killing animals usually does not provoke public anger, the killing itself should be punished regardless of the public reaction. Due to the distinction of humans and animals, special laws in the criminal law are needed to protect endangered species.

Note that killing oneself is a desired damage and hence not unjust. People are allowed to commit suicide. This does not apply if they kill themselves to evade their duties. For example, if someone has children, he is expected to care for them (because he is responsible for them, s.b.). If he tried to kill himself and would thus leave the children to starve, the suicide would cause damage to outsiders and is hence to be prevented. [Thanks to Jennifer for pointing this out.]

See the next definitions, Food Killing, Abortion, and Mosquito Killing, for exceptions to the general prohibition of killing.

# Abortion
The killing of a human before 3 months after conception, on the explicit desire of the pregnant woman. The compensation, apology and penalty for abortion are zero.
Abortion is a very controversial issue. This essay takes a pro-choice stance, for the following reasons: A child requires considerable emotional and also financial efforts by the parents. If the child is not desired, the financial and emotional capabilities of the parents may be trespassed. In that case, the child has lesser chances of getting a good education, proper care and a loving environment.

The main reason against abortion is the protection of unborn life. The definition of “life”, however, is disputable: An egg is not a chicken. This holds even if the egg is fertilized — as are, indeed, a large number of the eggs that we eat. Yet, we do not consider these eggs chicken. Similarly, a human ovum, even if fertilized, is not a human.

Other arguments against abortion are of religious nature. A common Christian argument goes that abortion is a destruction of life against the will of God. However, Christianity has had different stances towards abortion in history. The Bible, e.g., states that abortion is not murder (Bible / Exodus 21:22). Saint Augustin, an important Christian scholar, held that an early abortion is not murder, because the soul had not yet entered the fetus. This belief got passed into canon law, and was upheld by Saint Thomas Aquinas, Pope Innocent III, Pope Gregory XIV, and the Council of Vienne [Wikipedia / Christianity and abortion]. Muslims, likewise, mostly condemn abortion today. However, during the Golden Age of Islam, abortion was not prohibited. It was thought that the soul had not yet entered the fetus, and that hence the killing of an unborn was not murder. This interpretation was based on the quranic descriptions of the development of the fetus (Quran 23:12-14 and 22:5), and on a Hadith [Wikipedia / Ensoulment]. In any case, around 20% of pregnancies end with a natural premature death of the fetus, and we know no way to avoid that. If God is the cause of everything, then God is also the cause of these deaths. This makes God the most active abortionist.

# Food Killing
A killing of an non-human animal or a plant under the following circumstances: The compensation, apology and penalty for food killing are zero.
This definition targets humans, because animals are no moral subjects and cannot be held responsible for killing. It is well known that humans could survive without killing animals. This essay sympathises with the vegetarian cause. However, it would be unfeasable at the current point of human development to treat food killings as killings. In the future, the exceptional treatment of food killings may be removed.
By being a special case of killing, food killing is still technically a damage. Note that food killing also covers plants. Food killing applies in two cases: Either the animal or plant has been farmed for the purpose of consumption. In this case, the animal or plant may be killed. If the animal or plant has not been farmed, the animal may only be killed if the compensation is small. This entails, e.g., that you may not kill members of a rare species. Food killing excuses the killing itself, but it does not excuse the detention of animals (see the remarks at obstruction).
# Mosquito Killing
A killing of an animal under the following circumstances: Compensation, apology and penalty for mosquito killing are zero.
This definition allows people to kill mice, mosquitoes, and other insects if they cause a risk to hygiene, health, property, or well-being of humans. This essay would prefer a more pacifistic solution to these problems, but acknowledges that currently the most realistic solution is killing the animal that causes the nuisance. Note that this does not allow erasing an entire species, as the compensation for such a killing would grow too large with each animal that dies. This is in order to keep the biological balance of our planet. Note also that the killing has to avoid any cruelty, because cruelty still remains immoral as an injury.
# Disturbance
A state that affects an animal’s sense organs in a repeated or extreme way, provided that If the state is caused by a technical device designed for this class of sense affection and owned by the animal, the state is not a disturbance.
Disturbance is an offense that cannot be quantified easily. Strictly speaking, talking to somebody is already a disturbance. However, its compensation (the default value) is neglectable. More serious disturbances (such as making penetrant noise or stinking) do cause damage. If the victim moves consciously towards the source of the sensation, the sensation is not a disturbance. This includes e.g. someone going to a rock concert.

The German Criminal Law states that making penetrant noise is a crime — although, sadly, this does not apply to vehicles, which contribute most of the noise in our environment.

The compensation for disturbance means ending the disturbance and making up for the suffering.

# Non-Physical Damage

# Sabotage
A state where the working of a physical system such as a machine or computer is influenced by moving data into its domain. The victim of a sabotage is the moral object in whose domain the system is.
Sabotage condemns any non-physical influence on a machine or computer. This includes viruses or in fact any other interaction with a computer system. Interactions can only be legalized by the owner of the computer.
# Insult
A state where a declaration is made about a speaker that is (1) pejorative and (2) not provably true. If the insult is followed by an immediate reciprocal insult of approximately the same compensation value, then compensation and apology for both insults are zero. The victim of an insult is the insulted speaker. The compensation consists of granting the victim a counter-statement to the same audience, or else having the perpetrator issue such a statement on the victim’s request.
It is strange that a reciprocal insult makes the victim feel “healed” from the first insult. This is an “Eye for eye, tooth for tooth”-behavior. But since it works and since no consequences result, this essay subscribes to this solution. It is a convenient way to avoid the legal claim mechanism. The German Criminal Law shares a similar view. This retaliating solution does not apply to other offenses such as theft or injury. If the victim of an insult does not reply by a reciprocal insult, the insult counts as an offense.

Pejorative statements count as insults only if they are not provably true. This essay follows the widely accepted opinion that in case of a resolution, the perpetrator has to prove the truth of the statement. Note that the declaration does not need to be made to the victim to be an insult.

A “pejorative statement” is in particular also a statement that says that a person deserves punishment or damage without having done anything wrong in the sense of this essay.

# Threat
The state where some actor declares to another actor that the former will cause unjust damage to the latter or to a related moral object in a possible course of time.
Example: “I will kill you!”
This is a classical threat.
Example: “If you don’t do X, I’ll kill you”
This is a conditional threat, i.e. extortion.
Non-Example: “If you insult me again, I’ll sue you!”
There is a possible course of time in which the person insults you again, but bringing him to court is not an unjust damage.
The threat itself is damage, because it causes considerable emotional stress to the victim. Often, threats are bound to certain requests, like for instance in extortion. In this case, the threat itself counts as damage, independent of whether the victim obeys the perpetrator’s conditions or not. Furthermore, the threat counts as a declaration, i.e. the victim may assume that the perpetrator fulfills the threat (by the Dixit-Principle, see lying). Hence, if the victim obeys the perpetrator and does as he requests, the victim performs refundable assistance to rescue himself. Thus, the victim will get a compensation for all damage he suffered while following the perpetrator’s request. This may be direct damage (like giving money to the blackmailer) as well as indirect damage (like committing an offense and having to pay the compensation). However, while following the perpetrator’s request, the victim shall not cause damage that is greater than the damage he is threatened with. In this case, the victim is expected to disobey and to suffer the damage he is threatened with. The definition of refundable assistance makes sure that this does not apply for severe damage.

If the victim does not obey the perpetrator and the perpetrator makes his threat come true, the perpetrator will be held responsible for both the threat itself and the actual damage caused to the victim (as covered by the other definitions).

The definition of a threat covers only real possible courses of time. It does not cover threats in the afterlife. Otherwise, many religious books would become illegal, because they often threaten people with punishment in the afterlife.

The compensation for a threat means revoking the threat and making up for the distress.

# Intellectual Theft
A state where intellectual property is enjoyed before the end of its term. The perpetrator of the theft is the moral subject in whose domain the intellectual property data resides. The victim is the rights holder. The compensation is the destruction of the intellectual property from the domain of the perpetrator.
This essay protects intellectual property by making its enjoyment an offense. To make financial use of his work, the creator can enter into a contract with a client. The client pays money to the creator, and the creator agrees to enjoyment of the work by the client.

Through the contract, the creator can limit the enjoyment. For example, a software company may license the software for non-commercial use only. A musician can demand more money from a radio station than from the sale of a CD.

Intellectual property can be copied, if it is clear that the copy does not serve enjoyment. This is the case, e.g., with search engine providers that cache copies of Web pages. However, by default, a copy is assumed to lead to enjoyment.

By making the rights holder the victim of the offense, the rights holder can grant usage rights by means of consent. Furthermore, by default, the receiver of a copy may assume he has the right to personal use. By sending the copy, the sender declares that all rights holders agree to the personal use. If the receiver shares the intellectual property beyond his personal circle, he commits an intellectual theft, and loses the intellectual property completely.

# Privacy violation
A state where private information is (1) extracted or (2) transmitted with the knowledge that the information was private. The compensation for a privacy violation consists of destroying the information outside the domain of the victim. Privacy violations do not apply to intellectual property.
Example: Introducing microphones into the room of the victim
(Privacy violation by trespass)
Example: Stealing documents
(Privacy violation by theft)
Example: Forcing the victim to reveal something
(Privacy violation by threat)
Example: Using microphones to detect what is spoken inside the victim’s room
(forbidden technical means in absence of the perpetrator)
Example: Cracking the code of a website and accessing the information
(sabotage)
Non-Example: Looking into somebody’s windows.
This definition basically means that the victim has the right to privacy whenever he may reasonably expect privacy. This is the case if he ensures that nobody is watching or listening. Privacy violations do not apply to intellectual property, because this information is already protected.

Sometimes people tell their secrets to other persons. These secrets are not protected by this law on privacy violation. If the person tells the listener afterwards not to disseminate the secret, this request has no legal value . Instead, the person should ask the listener to promise to keep silent. It is even better to ask the listener before telling the secret. A prototypical promise is “I promise that, shall I ever tell somebody your secrets, I will compensate this as if it was a privacy violation. I will be freed from this promise if you break your promise to keep silent about my secrets”. This sounds like a retaliation law, but this mutual dependency is one of the strongest guaranties for keeping secrets.

Note that if a privacy violation is necessary to unveil an offense, the privacy violation may be committed. It will be compensated by the perpetrator of the offense as refundable assistance. This entails that perpetrators of offenses are not protected against privacy violations concerning their own offenses.

# Exposure
The transmission of embarrassing information or the enjoyment by anybody other than its creator — unless the embarrassing information is an explicitly intended part of a public speech. The victim is the embarrassed person. The compensation for exposure consists of destroying the information in the domain of the sender and receiver of the transmission.
Embarrassing information may be recorded, but it may not transmitted and not be shared with others. If someone violates this constraint, he loses the right to keep the data in his domain.

It is not necessary that the embarrassing information contains personally identifiable information. This is because even if the victim cannot be identified by permanent identifiers, he could still be identified by the circumstances in which the embarrassing information was recorded.

It is not sufficient for the offense of exposure that the material is funny or awkward. It has to be so embarrassing that a reasonable person would be willing to pay money to prevent its transmission.

# Disclosure
The broadcasting of personally identifiable information, unless this information concerns (1) a public speech, (2) giving credit, or (3) facts, fiction, or opinion about a corporate body, marked as such. The victim is the identified speaker. The compensation for disclosure consists of destroying the information outside the personal circle of the sender.
Unlike embarrassing information, personally identifiable information may be shared inside the personal circle. Receivers can then also share this information inside their personal circle, and so on. However, the information may not be broadcast.

Exceptions are granted for anything that related to a public speech. Such speeches can be freely related and criticized. Exceptions are also granted for talking about corporate bodies. Basically everything can be said about a corporate body — as long as facts, fictions, and opinions are distinguished. It remains prohibited to use the name of a company for any other purpose — such as to advertise, to suggest approval, or to appropriate.

Independently of the offense of disclosure, wrong or insulting information may not be shared.

# Damage by Non-Action

# Missing credit
A state where intellectual property is enjoyed without the creator being declared in a way that is (1) appropriate for the medium of enjoyment and (2) as specified in the copy of the intellectual property. The victim is the creator of the intellectual property. The perpetrator is the owner of the copy that is being enjoyed.

Missing credit is also a state where the creator of intellectual property is declared to be someone else than the creator. The victim is the creator of the intellectual property. The perpetrator is the speaker.

This regulation guarantees that the name of the creator is mentioned whenever his creation is enjoyed. This applies even beyond the term of his intellectual property. The credit shall be placed as close as possible to the work, and shall be as explicit as possible. This requirement seems to feed more the narcissism of the creator than the interest of the public. In particular, future versions of search engines will allow us to trace back the source of any work, even if it is not explicitly mentioned. Therefore, it seems odd to require an explicit mentioning of the creator’s name. However, in many cases, it is exactly this narcissism that pushes creators to produce their work, and to make it available. Creativity and altruism is paid for by glory.
# Abuse of a dependant
A damage where the victim depends on the perpetrator if the damage is repeated or expected to be repeated.
This definition has no other purpose than amplifying an offense against a dependant victim. The abuse of a dependant is worse than a simple abuse, because the victim has to fear a repetition of the offense. An abuse of a dependant will entail two resolutions: One for the original damage and one for the abuse of the dependant.
# Dereliction
A state in which a child is not given (1) basic life support and (2) the objective basic conditions for a healthy youth. The victim is the child. The parents of the child are the perpetrators.
This law implies that parents have to support their child until he has completed high school. Furthermore, this law gives the child the right to demand objective basic conditions for a healthy youth. Thereby, all factors that are proven and known to be grossly harmful for a child’s upbringing become illegal. This can include systematic neglect, abandonment to a charity, or psychological mistreatment.

This law also puts the question of whether homosexuals may adopt children into the hands of science. Should science find that an upbringing with two fathers or two mothers is harmful, then it becomes illegal. Otherwise, it is not. A divorce, likewise, is considered harmful. It cannot always be avoided, but it is considered unjust damage to the child. Incest, likewise, is punished under this law, if it leads to predictable and known congenital defects.

The victim is the child. This means that the child is entitled to damages if the parents mess up his youth. The law also implies that we may have to take away the child from his parents, if these are unwilling or incapable of executing their duties. This is to be done (1) in the best interest of the child and (2) seeking consent of the old parents, the new parents, and the child (as far as the persons are capable of deciding).

# Denial of assistance
A state where a moral subject does not provide the greatest possible obligatory assistance. In the case of silent suffering, the greatest possible assistance is letting the perpetrator know. The compensation for denial of assistance is proportional to the difference of the value of the expected damage and the value of refundable assistance, reduced by the proportion of obligatory assistance that the moral subject did provide. The victim is the victim of the damage or the perpetrator of the damage in the case of silent suffering. The perpetrator is the moral subject who did not help.
According to the Principle of Universal Responsibility, everybody has to prevent damage. If a victim suffers a damage and some other person does not help, then the victim can claim compensation from the bystander. On one hand, it seems strange that the victim shall receive compensation just because somebody watched the damage. There is not more damage just because someone watches. On the other hand, denial of assistance has to be punished and it seems best to have the victim profit from it.
The compensation increases with the damage. It decreases with the effort that is required for the assistance. It also decreases if the helper did provide some kind of assistance, but not the full required assistance. By default, this essay suggests a compensation that is equal to 1/3 of the compensation of the damage.
In general, a victim can never be obliged to provide obligatory assistance to himself, because he cannot commit an offense against himself. However, if the victim knows that the perpetrator is unaware of the damage he causes, he has to notify him (see silent suffering).
Note that, by the above definition, denial of assistance includes cognisance.
# Direct damage
One of the following states or a combination thereof
# Everyday damage
Damage that every human produces day by day without noticing it.
Everyday damage includes e.g. killing small animals by stepping on them or eating stuff for which animals suffered. It is proposed that everybody make a regular contribution to a charity to make up at least symbolically for everyday damage.

# Indirect damage

The following definitions describe states in which responsibility is shifted from the direct agent to another moral subject.

# Provocation of Assistance
A state where refundable assistance was given. The compensation for provocation of assistance is the compensation for the damage to the helper, up to the value of refundable assistance. The perpetrator is the perpetrator of the expected damage, the victim is the helper.
The provocation of assistance assures that whoever prevented a damage receives a compensation. If the prevented damage was an offense, the helper will receive compensation from the perpetrator. Otherwise the helper will receive compensation from the victim. This is assured by the definition of “perpetrator of a damage”. Note that if somebody causes more damage than necessary to prevent a threatening damage, only the necessary damage is refunded.

Provocation of assistance is not modular in the sense of the Principle of Modularity. I.e. if victim and perpetrator differ, the helper can demand compensation not from the victim but from the perpetrator. This is because the victim may be unknown, see the remarks at “expected damage”.

# Bad surprise
A state where The victim is the direct agent. The perpetrator is the indirect agent. The compensation for bad surprise is the damage to the direct agent.
Example: Building a trap.
Example: Launching a time bomb.
Suppose Alonso covers a drain with cardboard. Minutes later, poor Bertram comes, steps on the cardboard and falls into the drain. The usual criterion to shift the burden of damage from Bertram to Alonso is the (bad) intention of Alonso. However, this bad intention may be hard to prove (Alonso may just have littered the cardboard around). This is why the offense of “bad surprise” does not rely on intentions, but on the probability instead. It protects ordinary people from unusual events that they do not have to take into account. In the above example, nobody has to take into account that someone covers a drain with cardboard. In contrast, Alonso has to take into account that someone might walk on the cardboard. Hence Alonso is guilty.

This rule also proves quite useful for minor cases. Suppose, e.g., that Alonso eats some jam and does not close the top of the jar properly. Bertram comes and takes the jar by the top, the jar falls down and crashes. Here, the state that a jam-jar is not closed properly is less common than somebody taking it. Hence it was Alonso’s fault.

Conveniently, conventions may be used to establish a high probability. For example, it is a convention in Germany to drive on the right-hand side of the road. Thus, anybody who uses the left hand side performs an uncommon action and can be held responsible for eventual damage.

# Complicity
A state where The compensation for complicity is the proportion of the compensation and the apology for the damage, as given by two agent’s respective contributions. The perpetrator of complicity is the indirect agent, the victim is the direct agent.
Complicity applies if two agents commit offenses that combine to one great offense. For example, assume that Alonso gives a poison to Cedrick. Later, Bertrand also gives a poison to Cedrick. Although each of the poisons would cause only stomach-ache, the poisons combine and Cedrick dies. By the Principle of Modularity, Bertrand will be charged with killing. Afterwards, Bertrand will sue Alonso for complicity to make him pay his share.

The compensation of complicity is computed as follows: Be IA the indirect agent. Be d(IA) the compensation for the hypothetical damage caused by IA alone. Be DA the direct agent. Be d(DA) the compensation for the hypothetical damage caused by DA alone. Be D the compensation and apology for the actual damage. Then the compensation of complicity is D*d(IA)/(d(IA)+d(DA)). This is the compensation that the direct agent DA may expect from the indirect agent IA.

Note that the joint damage D may well exceed the sum of the respective hypothetical damages! It is necessary to treat complicity apart from bad surprise, because bad surprise relies on the probabilities of the actions, which would not make sense for complicity. Furthermore, bad surprise cannot allow proportional sharing of the damage (potential division by zero), whereas complicity relies on proportional sharing on principle.

# Lying
A state in which a false declaration is made to a victim. The compensation for lying is the compensation for all damages to the victim in the closest reasonable course of time where the declaration is assumed to be true, as compared to the closest reasonable course of time where the declaration is false. In addition, the compensation includes informing the victim that the declaration was false.

A declaration does not count as a lie if it does not have appropriate seriousness.

Protecting trust in declarations is one of the core issues of this essay. We have the right to take any declared statement for true, if it is declared with appropriate seriousness (by the Dixit-Principle). Therefore, we should watch carefully what we say. If in doubt about the truth of a statement, we should rather say “I think that...”. In all cases, speakers are encouraged to foresee that they may not be able to uphold their statement, and to agree on a conventional fee for this case.

Breaking a contract and breaking a promise are simply special cases of lying.

# Corruption
A state in which a moral subject does not fulfill a contract in order to obtain advantages from a third moral subject.
Corruption is typically defined as giving money to a government official in order to obtain illegal advantages. This essay does not know the notion of a government. Furthermore, this essay considers it difficult to prove corruption, because corruption can take place with other means than money. Last, the two parties can always claim that the transfer of money and the illegal advantage are unrelated.

In this essay, corruption is a special case of breaking a contract, which is by itself a special case of lying. The government official has an employment contract with the government. If he gives an illegal advantage to someone, he breaks his employment contract. This makes him liable to prosecution under the laws of this essay. This holds regardless of whether the official obtains money for his actions or not.

The party who bribes the official is conscient of the misbehavior of the official, but does not prevent it. Therefore, this party commits a denial of assistance to the employer of the offical (which is the government). This way, both parties have to be punished.

# Indirect damage
One of the following states:
Let’s assume that, through provocation of assistance, lying, bad surprise or complicity, Alonso makes Bertram cause damage to Cedrick. By the Principle of Modularity, Cedrick will receive compensation and apology directly from BertramP,B,C,L. Bertram will not receive a penaltyP,B,L. In a second resolution, Alonso will pay as compensation to Bertram all costs that occurred to BertramP,B,L. In addition, Alonso will pay an apology to BertramB,L. Furthermore, Alonso will be subjected to a penaltyB,C,L. (Superscripts indicate to which indirect damages the sentences apply.)
# Damage
Indirect damage or direct damage.

# Resolutions

# Victim of a damage
The moral object affected by the damage, as given by the definition of the damage.
# Perpetrator of a damage
The direct agent of the damage, unless otherwise specified. If there is no direct agent, the victim of the damage is the perpetrator.
This essay distinguishes between the perpetrator of a damage and the one who is responsible. This distinction is necessary because the victim of the damage usually cannot turn to the perpetrator for compensation claims, if the perpetrator is mentally disabled or a young child. By default, the victim is the perpetrator. If somebody else is responsible for the victim, this entails that this person becomes responsible for the damage. Assume for example that a young child falls down the stairs. There is no direct agent for this damage. Hence the child himself is the perpetrator. Since the child’s parents are responsible for all damages of which the child is the perpetrator, the parents are responsible for the event.
# Responsible of a mentally disabled person
His parents.
# Responsible of a young child
His parents.
# Responsible of a moral subject
The moral subject himself.
# Responsible of an animal
The one who keeps the animal.
Of course, there are animals which nobody is responsible for. Note that it does not say “the one who owns the animal”, because animals cannot be owned. Pets can be kept, but not locked up (or only under natural circumstances, see obstruction).
# Responsible for a damage
The natural corporate body of the moral subjects who are responsible for the perpetrator of the damage, as given by the previous definitions.
Exceptions:
There may be multiple responsibles. In most cases, the responsible person will simply be the perpetrator himself.
# Offense
An unjust damage, where a responsible exists and this responsible is not the victim.
Not all unjust damages are offenses, consider for example earth quakes, damages caused by animals or damages caused by the victim himself.

# Jury for an offense
A group of people who promise to serve in a resolution to the best of their knowledge and capabilities and whom all people involved in the offense agree on. By default, the jury consists just of the responsible for the offense and the victim.
# Apology for a damage
A value that compensates the victim for the very fact of undergoing the damage. By default, the apology shall be 1/5 of the compensation. The apology for provocation of assistance and complicity is zero.
The apology shall make up for the suffering of the victim. Even if the compensation undoes the damage, the very fact of being a victim shall also be compensated, depending on the actual (psychological) impact on the victim.

There is no apology for provocation of assistance, because helping people in need is assumed to be a civic duty by this essay. There is no apology for complicity because the indirect agent is not morally worse than the direct agent.

# Penalty for an offense
A damage to the responsible of an offense in form of The penalty shall be the mildest means that will probably prevent the responsible from commiting the offense again and that will force the responsible to pay the compensation and apology. By default, the penalty shall be the 1/5 of the compensation, payable to a charity. The penalty shall be proportional to the probability with which the responsible’s behavior caused the damage. The penalty shall include all benefits that the responsible received in excess of the benefits in the closest reasonable course of time without the offense, if these are not covered by the compensation. The penalty for an offense induced by lying, provocation of assistance or bad surprise is zero.
By making the penalty proportional to the probability of damage, the jury can take into account the assumed intention of the responsible: If the responsible could not foresee the damage, the penalty may be zero. The penalty may also be zero if the compensation and apology already put such a high burden on the responsible that he is unlikely to commit the offense again.

The penalty shall include all fruits that the perpetrator harvested from the offense. These fruits do not go to the victim (because the victim is compensated by the compensation and shall not benefit from the perpetrator’s diligence) and they cannot remain with the perpetrator (because this would encourage him to commit the offense again). Hence they go, with the remainder of the penalty, to a charity.

The punishments that this essay establishes do not include the death penalty (or in fact any other corporal punishment). There are several reasons against the death penalty (do a Google search). The main argument is that juries may err in their decision. In particular, laws can change. In this case, the perpetrator has to be able to challenge his conviction. If he is killed, this is no longer possible. Or, if you want a deontological argument by Jacques Chirac: “Death can never constitute an act of justice”.

# Lawyer for an offense
A moral subject who represents the victim in a resolution. If the victim is a moral subject, the lawyer is the victim. If the victim is not a moral subject, the lawyer is the responsible, unless the responsible is the perpetrator of the offense.
The lawyer will be given the apology in order to motivate him to represent the victim. We need a lawyer for the victim because the victim may not be a moral subject and may not have a responsible. The victim may also have died in the meantime. We do not need a lawyer for the perpetrator, because by definition, the perpetrator has a responsible in an offense.
# Unsolved offense
An offense where the responsible is not determined or the victim and the responsible do not agree on a way to resolve the offense.
By this definition, perpetrators and victims shall be encouraged to solve the problem on their own. Note that “resolving the offense” is left undefined. If both the victim and the perpetrator agree, it its irrelevant what they agree on. Only if they do not find a solution, a resolution has to take place.

It is unfortunate that if the perpetrator and the victim agree on a compensation, the perpetrator evades the penalty. The penalty prevents the perpetrator from repeating the deed. However, the liberal principles of this essay prohibit a resolution for a case that is already solved.

# Resolution
The following procedure, which is to be executed after an unsolved offense:
  1. A lawyer is chosen. By default, this is the victim himself.
  2. A suspected responsible of the offense is determined
  3. The suspected responsible is informed about the resolution procedure. If there is the danger of the suspect escaping, he may be detained.
  4. A jury is chosen. By default, this is just the victim and the suspected responsible.
  5. All involved persons bring arguments. In case of an alleged insult, the insulter has to prove the truth of his statement.
  6. If the suspected person is indeed the responsible for the offense
    1. The jury determines the compensation. The compensation is transferred from the responsible to the victim.
    2. The jury determines an appropriate apology. The apology is transferred from the responsible to the lawyer.
    3. The jury determines and implements an appropriate penalty.
    4. The responsible owes the involved people (except for the jury) all damages that were necessary to complete this resolution.
If one party proves consistently uncooperative, the case is decided against him.
As always, people involved in the resolution can be charged with lying if they make false or incomplete statements, which may trigger revisiting the resolution.

In general, all necessary efforts by investigators (including offenses) and all necessary efforts by the lawyer and the victim (including prior, failed searches for the responsible) are to be refunded by the responsible. In case of doubt, another resolution is necessary on this issue. Note that the jury does not get paid.

Since this essay relies on the Principle of Modularity, indirect damages entail two resolutions instead of a single one (e.g. bad surprise). This modularity ensures that the victim can turn to a single responsible for his claims (instead of having to resolve the problem of shifted responsibility). Furthermore, the principle ensures that the direct agent of the damage (e.g. the victim of a bad surprise) works together with the jury, even if he will not be made responsible in the end. Nevertheless, it may be reasonable to join two resolutions, if the offenses are related.

The lawyer will get the apology upon conviction, any person involved in the search for the responsible will be refunded, the jury promised to act to the best of their capabilities and the suspect will want to proof his innocence. Hence, all people involved should have an interest in a speady resolution. If the victim proves uncooperative, the case is dismissed (see No sulking). If a suspected responsible proves consistently uncooperative, it may be assumed that he is the responsible.

# Unsolved Issues

Several issues are not solved by the present essay. These include:
Blind protection of good faith
This essay protects the receiver of data from any need to verify that data. This applies to:
  • factual data. By the Dixit Principle, the receiver of a message can always act as if the message were true, if the message is uttered with the appropriate seriousness. If it is not true, the sender has to make up for the damage that results (see lying).
  • private data. We commit a privacy violation only if we actively collect the data — not if we distribute it without knowing that it was private data.
  • intellectual property. We can always assume that any copy that we legally bought is authorized by the rights holder (see display of data).
We want to protect good faith of the receiver, and we want to avoid that the receiver has to verify every message, image, or artwork he receives. However, the current ruling puts a huge burden on the perpetrator of a lie, a privacy violation, or an intellectual theft, if his piece of data goes viral on the Web.
Missing detail
  • This essay does not do away with the need for interpretation. See the discussion about the use of norms.
  • This essay leaves a number of issues open to conventions. For example, the question of what constitutes a declaration or who counts as a child are not answered by this essay.
  • This essay defines only the hardest types of offenses and ignores some more subtle damages. For example, it does not regulate “soft” issues like the public display of violence, psychological assault, or mobbing — even though these arguably deserve the status of offenses. See the discussion about liberalism.
Missing generality
  • This essay does not provide a guide for good human behavior in general. Rather, it defines what is not good behavior. See the discussion on general thoughts.
  • This essay does not guard against self-inflicted harm. It does not protect people from drug-abuse, addictions to smoking, gambling or alcohol, or dangerous behavior in general. In fact, protecting people from such activities would, ironically, amount to an offense under the principles of this essay. See the discussion at self-ownership.
  • This essay shies away from regulating the more subtle aspects of human social life. For example, it does not say that it is morally bad to push to the front in a queue of people. See the discussion about liberalism.
Missing centrality
  • This essay does not know the notion of the “greater common good” that would force individuals to renounce their rights for the advantage of society.
  • This essay leaves contracts to the individual parties. Therefore, it does not guard against discrimination.
  • This essay does not regulate common goods that are usually provided by the state, such as infrastructure, emergency services or education. It also does not know the concept of taxes.
These limitations highlight the imperfectness of this essay. Still, even an imperfect thing can be useful.

# Change log

Over time, our moral standards change (see Using norms for a discussion). The regulations of this essay evolve, too. Here are some of the changes: