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I Found A Wallet! Now What?

If you find a wallet, getting it back to its owner can be a challenge. (Pixabay)
If you find a wallet, getting it back to its owner can be a challenge. (Pixabay)

What do you do when you find a wallet lying on the street? The simple answer is to get it back in the right hands, but actually making that happen can prove complicated.

You could give it to the police, but sometimes – especially in a big city – a lost wallet could get buried under other work. You could try to find the owner of the wallet on social media, but what if the person has a common name?

Here & Now’s Jeremy Hobson recounts his own experience finding a wallet and explores the ethical and practical questions that followed with ethicist Ruth Chang.

According to Chang, we have a basic moral obligation to attempt to return the wallet to the individual, but there is a point at which that effort goes above and beyond the call of duty.

“The question becomes how much effort should you have to go through to return it to him,” Chang said.


  • Ruth Chang, professor of philosophy at Rutgers University.

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