Finders Keepers: The Claim Game

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We all know the rhyme: finders keepers, losers weepers. It ruled the playground, granting us permission to take ownership of lost property without having to deal with moral consequences. But this unwritten rule isn’t just a childhood relic—society historically has maintained its philosophy across every sector, including the legislation, technology, and the military. In this episode, Bronwen digs into the hypocrisies surrounding “finders keepers,” shedding light on the inherent conflict presented between morality, legality, and practicality. From the invisible world of data to the vast infinitude of space, “finders keepers” is a rule that will continue to have a major impact on your life.
Key Points From This Episode:

  • An overview of the logic behind “finders keepers, losers weepers.”
  • The first known record of the rule.
  • What the Bible says about found property.
  • Why America is so fond of finders keepers, and the hypocrisy this entails.
  • What the Homestead Act was and how it relied on finders keepers logic.
  • Rules on possession and how finders keepers can work against you.
  • How snipers in the US Army misused finders keepers in Iraq.
  • What Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is.
  • The three motivators of ethical behavior.
  • Why we feel extra guilt around money.
  • The distinctions between lost, mislaid, and abandoned property.
  • How to determine “superior claim” to something found.
  • Is the claim of “finders keepers” viable in court?
  • The definition of common law.
  • What to do if you find if you find an item of value, according to Oregon state law.
  • The legal, moral, and ethical challenges of finders keepers.
  • What is meant by “best effort?”
  • The history behind the law of estray, and what to do if you find a lost pet.
  • English property law in Parker v. British Airways Board.
  • What rules apply to shipwrecks and “treasure trove” property?
  • Why you should (or should not) watch the documentary, Finders Keepers.
  • A consideration of morality, in context.
  • the difference between law, ethics, and morality.
  • The implications of teaching our kids “finders keepers, losers weepers.”
  • How big data relies upon a finders keepers ethic to justify its business.
  • Finders keepers and the Space Act, and its geopolitical threat

Links Mentioned in Today’s Episode:

TIME Article: The Law of Finders-Keepers

Big data: Finders keepers, losers weepers

2015 Space Act

Scientific American article

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