cuchulain

responsibility and morality

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A question, purely speculative:  If I took an action that I knew COULD have negative consequences for other people, would I be responsible if that action DID have those negative consequences?

A slight amount of background.  I had a professor of philosophy who argued that drunk driving was not immoral because the person didn't choose the negative consequence.  I disagree with that, but thought I would ask for outside perspective.

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I am responsible for whatever consequences arise from my actions, whether or not I forsaw them. If I caused it, I own it.

That said, while drunk driving is more risky than sober driving, sober drivers take lives every day. If I were to call drunk driving immoral, I would feel compelled to say that all driving is immoral. After all, you know you might kill someone. It only takes a split-second of inattention, a slightly too-slow reaction, or an ill-timed sneeze. But you've gotta get to work, right? So you weigh the risk against the reward, cross your fingers, and roll the dice. Know what I mean?

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I have often thought about that lately, mererdog.  Driving with kids in the car is putting kids at risk, even sober, even paying attention, even if you get good driving certificates and are as careful as possible, it's still possible that someone else will slam in to the vehicle you are operating and you won't be able to avoid it. Or that there will be an unforseen mechanical failure that will flip the vehicle, explode it, or cause you to crash into someone.  In that scenario, you are not only placing your life at risk but also the kids, and anyone else in your path.  And most people consider it immoral to place kids' lives in danger.  What percentage of risk becomes acceptable, I wonder?

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If I am driving, I am giving my whole attention to getting to my destination safely.  If I drive drunk I either consciously know I am impaired or I have rationalized my drunkenness away.

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So then, it requires knowledge and conscientious behavior?  Honestly, every single time a person gets behind the wheel, they assume a risk.  It should be understood that, through no fault of your own, an accident or mechanical failure could(and often does) occur.  Understanding this, we have knowledge every time we get behind the wheel that anyone driving with us could be killed.  So I ask, is it immoral to place any passenger in mortal danger, even if the percentage chance is 1%?  This is only one example of course, the example that my professor postulated.  My primary question is:  If I take an action that COULD be negative to others, is it immoral?

Another example:  If I put up a trap in my yard and then put up a sign that says my yard is dangerous and so you enter at your own risk.  Now, reasonably, I could expect people to read the sign, and so say that it shouldn't be immoral, or place anyone in danger.  What about the exceptions, though?  There will be someone who cannot read come along, and maybe they get killed in my trap.  Was it immoral for me to place the trap in the first place, even though I exercised what I believed to be reasonable precautions?  Assuming I had some good reason in my own mind for placing the trap, of course.  

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5 hours ago, Brother Kaman said:

If I am driving, I am giving my whole attention to getting to my destination safely.

Our brains don't like us to focus on any one thing for very long. It makes it easy for predators to sneak up on us. You say you give your whole attention, but do you?

You don't listen to the radio? You don't talk to your passengers? You don't read billboards? You never think about what you want to have for lunch or what you need to pick up at the store? You don't get annoyed by an itch? Because I can guarantee that everyone else on the road with you does almost all those things on a regular basis.

 

An interesting bit of legal weirdness- in most states, someone who is drunk will be considered too mentally  incapacitated to consent to sex, but not too mentally incapacitated to be held responsible for the decision to drive...

Edited by mererdog

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10 hours ago, cuchulain said:

A question, purely speculative:  If I took an action that I knew COULD have negative consequences for other people, would I be responsible if that action DID have those negative consequences?

A slight amount of background.  I had a professor of philosophy who argued that drunk driving was not immoral because the person didn't choose the negative consequence.  I disagree with that, but thought I would ask for outside perspective.

Drinking and driving is the choice.  This is choosing the negative consequences.

It is similar to shooting off a gun in a crowd.  The shooter does not know that he will kill someone.  The shooter is prepared for the fact that he could kill someone.  He shoots anyway.  It is a choice.

The car that is not under control is like a big bullet.

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Should one knowingly,willingly, with purposefull intention, creates harm to another life form. Maybe held responsible for any action to do so. Considering whether or not it's morally, being  reckless upon such behavior. 

A  right or wrong, is hard to define as does, balancing on a fence. Consideration or a lack Therein.

 

 

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22 minutes ago, rdfoodog said:

Should one knowingly,willingly, with purposefull intention, creates harm to another life form. Maybe held responsible for any action to do so. Considering whether or not it's morally, being  reckless upon such behavior. 

A  right or wrong, is hard to define as does, balancing on a fence. Consideration or a lack Therein.

 

 

Your question is vague.  Another life form?  That could be mosquitoes.  Or roaches.  Or rats.

Even if the life form is human, the question is still vague.  A police officer defending the innocent may be fully justified -- even virtuous and heroic -- under such conditions.

You could also be talking about war.  Not a simple topic.

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19 hours ago, cuchulain said:

A question, purely speculative:  If I took an action that I knew COULD have negative consequences for other people, would I be responsible if that action DID have those negative consequences?

A slight amount of background.  I had a professor of philosophy who argued that drunk driving was not immoral because the person didn't choose the negative consequence.  I disagree with that, but thought I would ask for outside perspective.

Some highly educated people can be fools.  This is the process of losing one's mind by "degrees."  We all know what "BS" stands for.  In the same way, "MS" is "more of the same"  -- and "Ph.D." is "Piled higher and deeper."

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9 hours ago, Jonathan H. B. Lobl said:

Drinking and driving is the choice.  This is choosing the negative consequences.

It is similar to shooting off a gun in a crowd.  The shooter does not know that he will kill someone.  The shooter is prepared for the fact that he could kill someone.  He shoots anyway.  It is a choice 

The same is true of a sober driver. We all know we are capable of mistakes. We all know that mistakes behind the wheel can be fatal. To decide to drive is to decide to risk killing someone.

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So, I just looked up the statistics. Most traffic fatalities are not alchohol-related. So you are more likely to be killed by a sober driver than a drunk driver.

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On 4/4/2016 at 2:14 PM, cuchulain said:

 I had a professor of philosophy who argued that drunk driving was not immoral because the person didn't choose the negative consequence.  I disagree with that, but thought I would ask for outside perspective.

Your professor was an idiot.... Nearly everything in life involves a degree of risk, but when a person puts lives in jeopardy by taking reckless risk, the probability of negative consequences makes them morally culpable. Drunk driving = high risk (immoral), letting your kid play on the monkey bars = low risk (morally acceptable). 

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12 hours ago, Dan56 said:

Drunk driving = high risk

Does it, though? I knew a guy, some twenty years ago, who drove drunk on a daily basis. In the year and a half I knew him he never got in a wreck. I can't find any data to help determine whether he was just extremely lucky, but anecdotal evidence would seem to suggest that public perception of the relative risks have become overinflated.

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On 4/6/2016 at 1:42 PM, mererdog said:

Does it, though? I knew a guy, some twenty years ago, who drove drunk on a daily basis. In the year and a half I knew him he never got in a wreck. I can't find any data to help determine whether he was just extremely lucky, but anecdotal evidence would seem to suggest that public perception of the relative risks have become overinflated.

Sometimes, anecdotal evidence is adequate.  Many drunk drivers come to the attention of police, based on observing how they are driving.

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4 hours ago, Jonathan H. B. Lobl said:

Many drunk drivers come to the attention of police, based on observing how they are driving.

And many drunk drivers do not. And many sober drivers do. Which rather suggests that being drunk is neither a necessary cause, nor a sufficient cause, for bad driving.

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What are the percentages, mererdog?  What percentage of drunk drivers get in accidents vs the percentage of sober drivers?  Because most people drive sober, so I don't know that more sober drivers equates a higher per capita, or that it doesn't.

So far as the question of morality, here is another, for those who say the person who drives does indeed have responsibility, due to the ability to understand their actions as risky.  God created everything just the way it is, yet isn't held responsible for anything bad, even though he had the ability to foresee exactly what would happen.  Isn't he in the same boat as the drunk driver, if not worse?(worse, considering he has perfect knowledge, whereas the drunk is impaired at best?)

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