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Show ALL Forums  > Science/philosophy  > Ethically Speaking, Are We Responsible For What We Fail to Prevent?      Home login  
 AUTHOR
 gentlemuse
Joined: 4/2/2010
Msg: 51
Ethically Speaking, Are We Responsible For What We Fail to Prevent?Page 3 of 4    (1, 2, 3, 4)
Nope. We all have our own path's to discover and tend to in this lifetime and no one is responsible for anyone else.

However -- many of us wish to participate to make the planet a better place, and that's all good. If it weren't for these people, the collective consciousness of the planet wouldn't ever evolve.
 scorpiomover
Joined: 4/19/2007
Msg: 52
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Ethically Speaking, Are We Responsible For What We Fail to Prevent?
Posted: 11/17/2010 4:21:13 AM
RE Msg: 49 by FoshFish:
"You seem to think that you've understood what I am capable of, by my words. But I am informing you that, by your words, you clearly haven't understood what I am capable of, or you would not have written that. "

Thanks for the information, I appreciate it. However, please note, that this new information has also been conveyed by words. In fact, you stated very correctly that the only way for me to ascertain what you are capable of doing is picked up by my reading your words.

Also, please keep in mind that the possibility exists (albeit with a low probability factor) that in fact I did clearly understand what you are capable of, and it is you that is in a position of misinformation with regards to what you are capable of doing.

I say this because your only way of seeing what I think you are capable of doing is reading my words, and perhaps you are not able to tell what I am capable of doing by reading my words.
I do, and appreciate that you appreciate it as well. I also realise that you are only trying to discern my intent by my words.

Perhaps I was not as clear as to my feelings of guilt as I might be. But such feelings are so strong in me, that I sometimes find it hard to state that I would ignore such a danger, as the mere idea of me ignoring the danger to others makes me feel guilty in itself, to such an extent, that here, I found it easier to put what I would do, rather than to simply state that I would feel incredibly guilty if I had ignored the situation, as in some situations, I have unwittingly not acted quite as quickly as I could have done, and then felt wracked with guilt afterwards, even when I HAD acted to prevent injury, and even when I had been assured by all concerned that I acted appropriately and helpfully.

So please understand it is my strong sense of responsibility in such situations and my strong sense of awareness that I could and at times have been less responsible than I could have been, that led to me being not as clear as I could have been.
 Jan Sobieski
Joined: 7/4/2008
Msg: 53
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Ethically Speaking, Are We Responsible For What We Fail to Prevent?
Posted: 11/17/2010 6:03:11 AM
As to the OP, I would say that morality is concerned with the well being of ourselves and those around us, and therefore it would not in anyway be unreasonable to portion at least some moral responsibility on the observer. With regard to the thought experiment involving the train and the fat man, I would also point out that there is a degree of certainty involved with 'pulling the lever' that is absent when one 'pushes the fat man'; he may not stop the train, and one more person may be dead as a result.

If we were absolutely certain of every consequence of an action before we acted, then we should have very little need for discussing the moral justification of an action at all. Rather, we would be wholly concerned with defining moral terms in a meta-ethical sense.
 FoshFish
Joined: 4/30/2010
Msg: 54
Ethically Speaking, Are We Responsible For What We Fail to Prevent?
Posted: 11/17/2010 6:35:44 AM
"RE Msg: 49 by FoshFish:

"You seem to think that you've understood what I am capable of, by my words. But I am informing you that, by your words, you clearly haven't understood what I am capable of, or you would not have written that. "

Thanks for the information, I appreciate it. However, please note, that this new information has also been conveyed by words. In fact, you stated very correctly that the only way for me to ascertain what you are capable of doing is picked up by my reading your words.

Also, please keep in mind that the possibility exists (albeit with a low probability factor) that in fact I did clearly understand what you are capable of, and it is you that is in a position of misinformation with regards to what you are capable of doing.

I say this because your only way of seeing what I think you are capable of doing is reading my words, and perhaps you are not able to tell what I am capable of doing by reading my words.
I do, and appreciate that you appreciate it as well. I also realise that you are only trying to discern my intent by my words.

Perhaps I was not as clear as to my feelings of guilt as I might be. But such feelings are so strong in me, that I sometimes find it hard to state that I would ignore such a danger, as the mere idea of me ignoring the danger to others makes me feel guilty in itself, to such an extent, that here, I found it easier to put what I would do, rather than to simply state that I would feel incredibly guilty if I had ignored the situation, as in some situations, I have unwittingly not acted quite as quickly as I could have done, and then felt wracked with guilt afterwards, even when I HAD acted to prevent injury, and even when I had been assured by all concerned that I acted appropriately and helpfully.

So please understand it is my strong sense of responsibility in such situations and my strong sense of awareness that I could and at times have been less responsible than I could have been, that led to me being not as clear as I could have been."

Nice words, nicely put. Thanks.
 FoshFish
Joined: 4/30/2010
Msg: 55
Ethically Speaking, Are We Responsible For What We Fail to Prevent?
Posted: 11/17/2010 7:15:09 AM


But since the only difference bewteen THIS guy, and everyone ELSE at the gathering was that THIS guy was more observant than everyone else, shouldn't EVERYONE at the gathering be held equally responsible (irresponsible?) ? And so should not they EACH, condemn and shun EVERYONE ELSE?


No. This is a thinly disguised slippery slope fallacy. Insufficient information was given to assume that " the only difference bewteen THIS guy, and everyone ELSE at the gathering was that THIS guy was more observant than everyone else....". There is no reason to believe that the actions of the other guests/hosts must inevitably parallel the man's actions without an argument for such a claim, especially in a case like this where a significant number of steps or gradations between the man's reality and the realities of the other guests/hosts may exist.


There is no reason to believe that the actions of other guests must inevitably NOT parallel the man's actions, with or without an argument for such a claim.

If no information is given about an issue, any incidental information assumed can't be refuted as necessarily false. You, OP, are putting an enormous onus on the wrongdoing of the respondent, but there isn't any, actually, wrongdoing on the respondent's part.
-----

Your question is very ambiguous, OP.

"Ethically Speaking, Are We Responsible For What We Fail to Prevent?"

Morally responsible: from whose point of view? From the individual's point of view? "We" is not an individual. Society's point of view? Which society? If society, it has no morality, only moral codes. Which vary from one society to another. If you talk about individuals, you turn it into a subjective question for an individual to be answered by himself, so what's the point of arguing about who said what and why that is wrong?

--------

Is choice, choosing, making a mental decision on the future action for the self of an individual: Is choosing an action? Is a person acting, when sitting in front of a box of chocolate, deliberating which piece of chocolate to pick from the box? I am talking about the time period from the moment when he has been made aware that it is in his power to pick any one piece from the box, to the moment when he knows which piece to pick, but has not moved his hand yet to pick it.

Action: I think it has to involve an act, and an act necessarily involves the movement of an object or the physical elements of the self; a movement which is generated by the biological power of an individual.

Can mental work, which is the total change involved in the course of a "choosing", be described as an action?

Choosing is nothing but mental work.

Is daydreaming an action?

Is dreaming an action?

Is there any physical movement of, or any changes to, bodies of three dimensions and having a mass during a purely mental act?

Maybe.

But if we restrict the meaning of "action" to movements and changes to those that occur outside of the individual, that the individual has caused to happen; that is, if we consider the individual who performs an action to be the proverbial "black box", which is removed from the reality of the considerations of topic, then choosing is not an action.

---------

I think the question demands a rewording. It has an expectational element built in into it, but we don't know who is doing the expecting, and who is doing the conforming action or the non-conforming action to the expectation. "We" is too fuzzy a word to circumdescribe these entities. Please redefine for us who is it who is acting, and who is it who is doing the expectation.

After you do that, please tell us what we must or must not assume, and if we do make some assumptions outside the ones in your set of allowed or disallowed ones, then please don't blast us for making those.

Finally, please give us some guidance for the word "responsible". In terms of who is responsible to whom. Responsibility is by an individual or a class of individuals, or a group, to another. The "another" may be, exclusively even, the individual himself or the group itself, but not necessarily, and not necessarily not. Responsibility means accountability. Please give us the terms of contract (or assumed contract) that contain the precise wording of the contract. If such contract does not exist, then your word of "responsible" in the question you posed is completely meaningless. Please take that word out, if you can't direct us to a clearly defined contract, according to the terms of which the individual on whom expectations are placed is contravening his expected behaviour. In this contract that you inherently assume we know what it is, and you haven't told us yet what it contains and where we can find a copy of, but I beg that you do tell us, ought to have specified the benefits for each party to it that the contractual partner promises to deliver. If no such bilaterally beneficial and mutually agreed set of promises exists, then it is not a contract, and the word "responsible" is not a valid part of your question.

-------

In conclusion, I respectfully request of you, OP, to:

1. Please specify for us who is expecting whom to do what, according to the terms of what existing contract, and

2. please tell us the terms in this contract and the physical location of the said contract if it exists in the physical world, so we can refer to it and verify your claims about it.

3. (Barring any known physical existence of such a contract) please tell us what's in the contract, and

3.1.please tell us whether we must assume for the sake of the current discussion whether the terms you claim are in the contract must be true, or 3.2. are we allowed also to argue against the validity of the terms in the contract.
-------
Until you satisfy the above requests, this is nothing more than a social discussion, and calling other's opinion "fallacious" and "worng" and such are also mere opinions, which have no more convincing weight for the community here than the opinion "not fallacious" and "not wrong", said by anyone of the same things which you called "a fallacy" and "wrong".
 FoshFish
Joined: 4/30/2010
Msg: 56
Ethically Speaking, Are We Responsible For What We Fail to Prevent?
Posted: 11/17/2010 7:48:35 AM
But since the only difference bewteen THIS guy, and everyone ELSE at the gathering was that THIS guy was more observant than everyone else, shouldn't EVERYONE at the gathering be held equally responsible (irresponsible?) ? And so should not they EACH, condemn and shun EVERYONE ELSE?


No. This is a thinly disguised slippery slope fallacy. Insufficient information was given to assume that " the only difference bewteen THIS guy, and everyone ELSE at the gathering was that THIS guy was more observant than everyone else....". There is no reason to believe that the actions of the other guests/hosts must inevitably parallel the man's actions without an argument for such a claim, especially in a case like this where a significant number of steps or gradations between the man's reality and the realities of the other guests/hosts may exist.

The response in the second paragraph to the first paragraph has some element of truth. The truth is that the first paragraph is stating valid questions, with valid assumptions, yet it contains a slippery slope fallacy, in what it deals with is completely removed from the topic. The topic is that an individual who failed to prevent a tragedy, is HE responsible? This is the question. We are not attaching blame, (legally), we are not looking for a scapegoat. We are questioning his accountability. If we found the answer to that, then we can take further action.

The topic has to do with the isolated case of one individual, given the circumstances. Any talk about a different person is not a matter of this topic, and there is the presence of the slippery-slope: shifting the focus off of one important element, putting the focus on an unrelated element, and trying to make people beleive it is still the same element.

However, after we decided that he is responsible, or he is not, since this is a philosophical question in the ethics realm of philosophy, we can say that all people who are like him in the same circumstances must also be necessarily responsible. This includes the other guests, if they had been in the same position of observation, equipped with the same faculties as the man, sans (why are we mixing languages?) the given individual ethical convictions.

The OP, or the author of the second paragraph, did recognise a fallasy, and named it correctly, but instead of describing the fallacy, argued instead, that the first paragraph was fallacious because it contained assumptions that were not valid, and she claimed that that constituted a slippery slope fallacy. Which claim in and by itself is not valid, and its supportive reasoning was not only a fallacy itself, but it was wrong logically; and it also shifts the focus of the element of an argument to another, non-equivalent element. The OP commits a fallacy, the same as the one she accuses the author of the first paragraph to have commited, and she also makes erroneous arguments, in which her logic is just plain faulty.
 xssve
Joined: 5/5/2007
Msg: 57
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Ethically Speaking, Are We Responsible For What We Fail to Prevent?
Posted: 11/17/2010 9:11:52 PM
It's a simple question man: are we responsible for our inactions as well as our actions?

An example was given and you're the one all over the map here - you don't want to be mistaken for a child molester?

Just mention there is a toddler courting certain death by the pond, by the way, when you fetch your jacket - very little cost to you, no?

That is all this scenario boils down to, speaking a few words.
 Page 2u
Joined: 1/30/2008
Msg: 58
Ethically Speaking, Are We Responsible For What We Fail to Prevent?
Posted: 11/18/2010 10:45:18 AM
No--- I would not find him responsible for the death.
However I would find him or her,,
totally guilty of neglect – and mentally impaired.
Narcissistic comes to mind !!
 IgorFrankensteen
Joined: 6/29/2009
Msg: 59
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Ethically Speaking, Are We Responsible For What We Fail to Prevent?
Posted: 11/18/2010 4:59:32 PM
Okay, OP, you've succeeded in completely confusing me. Your title QUESTION, is "Are we responsible for what we FAIL to do?" You then created a specific scenario and asked about THAT. You did NOT say this was simply an example, and that you wanted other people to come up with other scenarios. In fact, in your second post, you AGAIN focused entirely on this ONE scenario, and elaborated on it. My answers spoke directly to what you directly asked.
I have no idea how what I said could be called a "slippery slope" argument. I said that there were many people at the scenario gathering, and that YOUR claim that the ONE guy should be judged alone, ignored all those other people.
I STILL find (from my viewpoint as a student of History) that there is no functional difference between "legal" concerns, and "Community" concerns. Where do you think laws came from? Laws ARE Community standards, and community punishments ARE legal punishments. You know nothing of the history of law if you fail to recognize this.
As to my confusion: if you DON'T mean to ask about this particular guy, what ARE you asking? In general, as I said, I am not sanguine about establishing a rule, or general sense, or community standard, or philosophical concept, or WHAT EVER you want to call it, that sets forth a GENERAL statement to the effect that a person can be held morally, ethically, or legally responsible for "failing to prevent" something. THAT would be a slippery slope to go down, if there is one anywhere here.
You also never got around to establishing what you mean by "moral responsibility," and confused this more by specifying ACTUAL punishment being dealt out by the community. I only hinted in my first note, about the idea that "moral" sensibilities are personal, and individual. The reason why we HAVE laws to replace concepts of morality, or to specify them as required, is BECAUSE there are big differences from one person to the next, as to what they FEEL is right or wrong. If "moral responsibility" is NOT all about how someone FEELS, and it isn't what is LEGAL, then what is it? Don't talk about "community standards" again, since that is incompatible with eliminating legal concerns. As another brilliant fellow asked, WHO is in charge of this morality?
So I second Foshfish in his list of excellent clarifying questions to you.
 xssve
Joined: 5/5/2007
Msg: 60
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Ethically Speaking, Are We Responsible For What We Fail to Prevent?
Posted: 11/18/2010 9:22:15 PM
"I have no idea how what I said could be called a "slippery slope" argument. I said that there were many people at the scenario gathering, and that YOUR claim that the ONE guy should be judged alone, ignored all those other people. "

Because clearly, no-one else is mentioned as having seen the child - you're are adding variables that weren't in the original scenario, you've in fact created a new scenario, and confusing it with the original one which you never addressed, and the new one is a slippery slope argument: since it was a party, this man could not have been the only one there, therefore everyone at the party is responsible, that's a slippery slope argument.

The original scenario as presented, clearly implied that the man, the subject in question, was the only one to see the toddler.

I find it fascinating that the woman posters almost uniformly responded with activity of some sort, while several of the male posters appear to want to make excuses for doing nothing or spreading the blame, a sociologist would have a field day with this.
 60to70
Joined: 7/28/2008
Msg: 61
Ethically Speaking, Are We Responsible For What We Fail to Prevent?
Posted: 11/18/2010 10:46:30 PM
Is this about a child drowning in a pool? Or is this about the horrors and other ugliness that humans unleash on others? Well. Be very aware of how the show goes down. Speak out, act and be brave. Do not give into the status quo. Ever.
 FoshFish
Joined: 4/30/2010
Msg: 62
Ethically Speaking, Are We Responsible For What We Fail to Prevent?
Posted: 11/19/2010 7:23:50 AM
I agree, 60 to 70. I used to think you were a contrarian, but you touched the nail right on the button here.

This is not about drownings. Or pools. This is not about ill-designed questions or angrily shouting at each other. This is not about saying whatever comes to mind. This is not about egos, this is not about logic vs emotions.

This is not about anything, whatsoever.

Reminds me of my life, carbon copy when viewed like this.

----------

I actually give in to the status quo when I agree with it or I like it from a hedonistic point of view. "Making love with an exciting partner is fun, such as doing it by and for yourself, so go ahead and do it", is one instance of status quo which I condone, and give in to, no matter what.
 FoshFish
Joined: 4/30/2010
Msg: 63
Ethically Speaking, Are We Responsible For What We Fail to Prevent?
Posted: 11/19/2010 7:37:01 AM
I'd like to see a show of hands: Should I stay away again for a while?

I mean, I have been bouncing up and down around the place on this forum for a few days. Am I too much? Am I getting really, but really irritating and under people's skins? If yes, please say it just with one word, and a 1/3 minority or better that votes for my staying away for a long while will get the job done.

Please, I mean this, I know I am irritation personified, so don't be shy, I won't take it personally, and if I do, I won't show that, and if I do show it, call me on it, and humiliate me with it. I am saying this here in public as a promise in first to ensure that I won't do that, and second to make this a valid contract in which the two parties both give or promise something of value to each other, so making it a binding contract. You vote aye or nay, whether I should stay, and then I'll come back only after a long while; this is your value given to me, to ensure I don't make an absolute ass of myself. I promise in return to the value of your honesty that I shan't punish any of you for your honesty by becoming angry and showing it, for this very reason only.

So please, speak out, or forever hold your piece. Peace? Piss. I'll tally tommorrow sometime. You can vote here or by sending me an inoccuous message to my box here on PoF. Whatever. Everyone's vote counts, except those's, who created an account after this announcement has been time-stamped.

Make your voice heard. Speak the language of we, the People. Vote early, vote today. Just vote.
 xssve
Joined: 5/5/2007
Msg: 64
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Ethically Speaking, Are We Responsible For What We Fail to Prevent?
Posted: 11/20/2010 7:42:17 AM
Why don't you just try waving your****around, maybe that will work.
 FoshFish
Joined: 4/30/2010
Msg: 65
Ethically Speaking, Are We Responsible For What We Fail to Prevent?
Posted: 11/20/2010 1:51:42 PM
... wand?

Wind?

Wad?

First come, first served.

Welcome to it, Xssve.
 societalblessing
Joined: 10/15/2010
Msg: 66
Ethically Speaking, Are We Responsible For What We Fail to Prevent?
Posted: 11/21/2010 12:40:46 AM
This from a lecture given by Peter Singer, which you can find at:

http://mitworld.mit.edu/video/487

The argument basically asserts that if one is morally responsible to save the child that is drowning, then one is also morally responsible of saving the child that is also starving in a poor community given that the only difference is one of space or distance. The key premise is that if one is able to save a dying child, then one should. The conclusion is that one should. He was attempting to show that what matters is capability. If one is capable of saving human life, then one should act on that capability. Often times we act as if distance matters in which we are not morally responsible for dying children that is distant from us because they are removed from our usual or immediate environment. However, this assertion is bogus in the sense that what ought to be considered is what we are capable of doing (he gives a lot apparently with what he makes.) In the discussion he says that if everyone gave 10% (what the bible calls for) then the negative consequences of poverty such as malnutrition, disease such as malaria, dysentery, etc would not be eradicated but eased and improved on.

The real question is not just if we should save the drowning child that we see, but if we should save the children that we can save. If we are willing to say we should save the drowning child then we should also act to save any child no matter in what degree we are removed from the dying or suffering child.

If one is true to their ethics on saving the drowning child then that person ought to attempt by giving money, time, labor, etc to save other similarly dying children. Either you accept that premise that if one is capable of saving a dying then they should or you do not accept that premise (which he disagrees with and asserts most would not agree with). That is the consequence of the question.
 Inicia
Joined: 12/21/2007
Msg: 67
Ethically Speaking, Are We Responsible For What We Fail to Prevent?
Posted: 11/21/2010 1:27:38 AM
In the context of this discussion>I do not accept the premise presupposed by your lecturer...P. S. because I presuppose that ethically speaking I feel more responsible to feed a child in a remote country with no economic resources maybe even sans parents than responsibility towards a saving a precariously posed child at a party with many able bodied people. I have no foreknowledge in this presented case as to whether the child will actually drown or not!

ethically speaking would I feel responsible if children died?> both are tragic....

All of us can say what we would do, and blather on about what ethically we think would or should happen. .. Yet for some reason children still starve in our own countries as well as in other countries. Children still fall unsupervised into bodies of water and drown. go figure. In the 60's there was a case of a young women killed while her screams and struggles were heard by several apartments full of witnesses. NO ONE Responded. We have a whole world watching while everyone else is supposed to do something.. Who has the capabilities to do something? We only know of our reaction when given a situation to which we may respond.
 FoshFish
Joined: 4/30/2010
Msg: 68
Ethically Speaking, Are We Responsible For What We Fail to Prevent?
Posted: 11/21/2010 8:21:56 AM
Peters proves the point of those who support the theory of morality by evolution. That theory states that morality and ethics is a genetical code that guides our behaviour in sometimes self-sacrificial way, which code will tell us whom to save when we save the survival of our own, personal, genome, in its closest facsimile form to our own individual one.

A lot of theory and practical examples ensued to decide this debate. One I am familiar with is that any human will save the lives of 5 other healthy humans, if in exchange of sure life for sure death for the five only one other has to die. (The railway switch model.)

At the same time each and all of us are absolutely convinced that we must not do it and we find it abhorrable if it happened, that we sacrifice a healthy human for his parts if five sick patients need a transplant each, for immediate survival, and a healthy human can supply transplant material from his own body alone.

I argued that the two examples are the same. We can't accept the first example (railway switch model) and reject the second example (cutting up a healthy human for parts), and yet we do decry the second on moral reasons. I argued that we can't accept the second example because in our evolutionary past there had been no prior instances of individuals getting a heart or lung or liver put into them and see them strive afterward. We reject the sacrifice of one healthy man, coz we find a sacrifice of this nature abhorrable for this reason; but we only find it abhorrable coz we have no paradigm of the sequence of actions we can take, we have never seen it happen in our past, so morality did not allow us to accept it via a built-in genetic code. We accepted and did not find it horrible to sacrifice one man in the railway example, because the logic is solid, and we have seen that happen or heard tales about it.

Same with the kid. There is no precedent in our evolutionary past to have kids saved who we don't even know personally exist. They are far away, we can't deal with them. We might have a concept of having children like that in the world, but until modern times we have had no way of worrying about the plight of those children in terms of how we can help them.

But show me a kid who falls down and cries, and I show you that at least one adult will jump to his or her attention immediately. You can't jump thousands of miles in a million different directions at once.

But morality is a genetic code, which was developed during evolution.

Logically you can claim that we are responsible to save all children, no matter where they are and what perils threaten them. This is categorical, fine and dandy in philosophical discussions. But it's not fine and dandy in pracicality. Therefore we don't feel that we must satisfy the categorical command. Yes, we can be convinced to do so and that we are morally obligated; but we still won't do it, not all of us, because we can't be convinced to FEEL that way.


This moral dilemma as presented is very similar to arguments about the nature of god. We can come up with irrefutable logic that states that one god cannot be a certain way according to what has been written about him in the scriptures. We prove it absolutely irrefutably. Yet people can refute it by ignoring the argument, because for them it is more important to serve god than to think clearly.

Another reason why we don't feel compelled to help children thousands of miles away is the "closer to me in genetics, the more care I extend" principle. Morality is a code, and it is camouflaged as a virtue for humans to be acceptable, which favours the survival of those who are most likely to carry on the genetic code of our own selves. So I will defend my children against his cousins, and I will ensure the survival of my cousins over the survival of the neighbours, and I will fight for the survival of my neighbour against the survival of the armies of another tribe.

I was born in a nation state. This was immediately obvious to all of us.

America is a state nation. Genetics has nothing to do with standing up for each other.

This is a starnge world we live in, America is. Loathe it or leave it. People stay, coz the money is good. (Well, duh. Another survival strength.)
 Kardinal Offishall
Joined: 2/26/2010
Msg: 69
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Ethically Speaking, Are We Responsible For What We Fail to Prevent?
Posted: 11/21/2010 2:39:36 PM
Inicia:


You’re missing one crucial aspect regarding the argument societalblessing was outlining.

The “drowning child” in Singer’s argument is not like the hypothetical dilemma posed in this thread (in other words, it isn’t about a child playing on rocks near a body of water, per se).

Rather, in Singer’s argument, you are walking by -- or at any rate within close proximity of -- a helpless child currently in the act of drowning in water. The argument is formulated such that, should you fail to act and come to the rescue of said child, they will most certainly perish. That is to say, there is a very real sense of urgency and of impending death built-in to the argument.

The point Singer has made in his famous argument is that since virtually no one would claim that one ought to do nothing and just let the child drown to death -- for we can easily save his or her life by simply coming to their aid -- we ought similarly give a small amount of money to famine relief agencies to save children from starvation -- wherever they may be on the globe.

Singer argues that the two cases, the drowning child, on the one hand, and children starving to death, are equivalent in all of the morally-relevant respects.

In other words, as easy as one can -- and ought to -- walk over to the child drowning and pull them out, one can just as easily donate money to reputable international famine-relief agencies to feed (hence save) similarly at-risk children.

Distance, as Singer notes, is no longer a valid excuse with which one may cite as exculpating them from their inaction.

Basically, the upshot of Singer's argument is thus: in knowingly and actively deciding to not feed children dying of starvation (wherever they happen to be on the globe), it is equivalent to watching a child drown in our proximity.

I linked to Singer’s original paper in one of my other posts in this thread. Here it is again in case you’re interested in looking at it:

http://www.utilitarian.net/singer/by/1972----.htm
 Inicia
Joined: 12/21/2007
Msg: 70
Ethically Speaking, Are We Responsible For What We Fail to Prevent?
Posted: 11/21/2010 7:22:59 PM
not missing a thing that is what this thread is about... you know...
 60to70
Joined: 7/28/2008
Msg: 71
Ethically Speaking, Are We Responsible For What We Fail to Prevent?
Posted: 11/21/2010 9:45:12 PM
Do not forget to be responsive in the most exact and right way. When you smell a rat, say so. When there is work or action to be exacted, act. When you cover all your senses and pretend you care, suffer the consequences. Life is never easy. But Life is satisfying when you connect to the bigger community. Each child is somehow yours.
 Simon4567
Joined: 10/9/2010
Msg: 72
Ethically Speaking, Are We Responsible For What We Fail to Prevent?
Posted: 11/24/2010 11:39:27 AM
Are we responsible for what we fail to prevent?

Yes

If without a reasonable doubt, something terrible was going to happen and assuming we had the power to prevent it, then we're responsible. However, if we were unaware that something terrible was going to happen and we had the power to prevent it, then we're not responsible.
 Appreciative9809
Joined: 9/8/2009
Msg: 73
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Ethically Speaking, Are We Responsible For What We Fail to Prevent?
Posted: 1/21/2011 1:58:44 PM



But, contrary to what your moral philosphers think, feelings are all that there is, when it comes down to it, for morality and ethics.



By your reasoning, if X feels it’s ok to throw puppies at the wall, it is morally OK to do so.

Similarly, if Y feels it’s OK to kidnap and torture babies, then, indeed, it is OK to do so.


In the belief of X and Y.

Of course in this world there are plenty of people like that. They do what they want, what suits them.

When, rarely, we can actually prevent them from doing what they like to, then we do so because of feelings, not because of theory.





You believe in moral philosophy as you believe in Physicalism, because it was taught to you.



Wrong on both accounts, friend. In philosophy, reason, not authority, is what is prized.


Irrelevant, my friend. Regardless of what is (said to be) prized, authority is what you follow. Yes, I admit that maybe you don't know that.


Secondly, I don’t know why you speak of “believing” in “moral philosophy,” as if it were some philosophical school or theory.
\

I refer to your belief in the legitimacy, the validity of it.



By the way, given your consistent behavioral level here, you don't come across as someone likely to be a genuine humanitarian. You're saying what you've been taught.



No, not quite.

After having come across Singer’s work as an undergrad, I found his logical reasoning -- keyword: logical reasoning -- compelling. It was the reasoning, not the fact that the paper was on the course syllabus or that Singer is a well-known ethicist that convinced me that his argument was very good. Why don’t you read it for yourself and come to your own appraisal of the argument.


Yes, so, as I said, you're basically telling us what you've read.







Want to hear some morality?: "You attack me, you get hurt."

If the guy looks big enough to enforce that, then you don't attack him. It's that simple.


Yeah, no, this doesn’t fly either. This is essentially equivalent to saying that it’s moral for China to drop carpet bombs on the tiny nation of Tuvalu. I mean, they are much bigger, and all things being equal, they could enforce that whim. Does that mean it’s moral?


No, and I didn't imply that.

But if Big can't be prevented from hurting Small, then all your moral philosophy doesn't help either.




You mean Western philosphy. Could it be that our great humanitarian is also a cultural chauvinist?

And only the current fashion of Western philosophy. Even Western philosophy has had many metaphysicses advocated.

What? You mean that the people who taught you your beliefs, and whom you parrot agree with you rather than with me? What a coincidence :-)




Cultural chauvinist? Hardly.

Like science, modern analytical philosophy aims to be as unbiased and objective as humanly possible.

With respect to the issue of consciousness in the philosophy of mind, all views, regardless of their provenance, are given equal consideration under the light of reason and evidence.



Noble words :-)

No doubt the Nazis, the enquisitors, the Flat Earthers, etc., would all salys that they're fair and unbiased too.



It just so happens that your favored metaphysics of consciousness -- your brand of Indian metaphysics -- is not very plausible, and consequently does not really feature at all in modern discussions of consciousness, by dint of its implausibility to the professionals in the philosophy of mind.



You mean its implausibility to the adherents of the current fad in Western Philosophy.

When you say "modern discussion", does that include modern discussion in India, by Indian philosophers?

Is the current fashion necessarily what is the most valid?




...You're not going to read those books I recommended, are you?


No, not really.



And no, I'm not an Idealist. I've looked it up since we discussed it, and practically no sources support your claim. Idealism claims that what fundamentally is consists of mind or an idea, according to nearly all sources I found.


Huh? How is your view not essentially positing that all that exists is a mind/or minds?


You mean other than the fact that I at no stime said that?
 IgorFrankensteen
Joined: 6/29/2009
Msg: 74
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Ethically Speaking, Are We Responsible For What We Fail to Prevent?
Posted: 1/21/2011 5:04:08 PM
This discussion needs structure. Without it, it can't be anything but an exchange of righteous pronouncements, with some people agreeing, and others taking issue.
I gave up on this discussion for a while, because I was unable to persuade the OP to clarify what exactly she was actually talking about. From what I can see, this hasn't changed, but the TITLE of the thread is well worth discussion, so I am back.
I want to completely set aside the ORIGINAL scenario for this discussion, since the only one able to spell out details necessary to answer to it, is unwilling to do so.
On the subject of whether or not we are "responsible for what we fail to do:"
Again, as someone else so well responded, the term 'RESPONSIBLE' needs to be defined, before the discussion can be properly focused. "Responsible" is a word that requires some one who is responding, AND someone or some THING that they are responding TO. When considering morality, one can be responding to ones SELF, or to one's COMMUNITY. But the word in the title question is "ethically," not "morally." Many people do not distinguish between the two words, but in either case, we have TWO actors to deal with: the people who are JUDGING the ethics/morals of the person who failed to act, and the person who failed to act.
After that, we have the concern of what it means if we decide someone IS ethically responsible for results of inaction. I contend, that if the only thing that happens when one is found to be morally or ethically responsible for the results of inaction, is that we stare at them angrily, then the discussion has no "teeth." There is no point to deciding the answer to this question, if we will, upon answering it, simply stroll away from the subject matter, and carry on with life as before.
So: with the idea in mind that there are CONSEQUENCES connected with answering the question, I answer by saying that I am OPPOSED to making a sweeping general statement, saying that "people are responsible for failing to act," until specific boundaries are set on the circumstances to which the question applies. Most people are familiar with the idea that all actions, however small, have consequences that can eventually result in apparently unrelated occurrences much later. This has recently been talked about in the "Butterfly Effect." Without establishing boundaries, the SAME concept applies to the consideration of the results of INACTION.
Are we responsible for EVERYTHING that happens because we failed to act? If so, there probably isn't anyone on the planet who isn't in big trouble.
 matchlight
Joined: 1/31/2009
Msg: 75
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Ethically Speaking, Are We Responsible For What We Fail to Prevent?
Posted: 1/21/2011 5:17:19 PM

Knowing that the man chose neither of these options, would you find him in any degree ethically responsible for the child's death?


Of course, and not just "in any degree." It's hard to imagine anything much more vile and cowardly, short of murdering the child himself. He has no more morals than the piece of rat dung he is. Anyone who can't see that is missing some large, vital piece of their personhood--and is a public menace as well.

Legally, though, this man--if he can be called that--would be completely in the clear in this country. And traditionally at least, the same has been true in England and most of its former colonies. But in Europe and most of the rest of the world, failure to help in situations like the one in this hypothetical is usually a crime. Sounds nicer, somehow, doesn't it? More caring?

I don't think so. I like it just the way we have it. Our policy says, in effect, "We are decent, free people. We are so far above letting anyone in trouble die, if there were any chance of saving them, that it's not even conceivable to us. The idea that we need criminal penalties to make us do what any one of us would do without a second thought is offensive and intolerable. Leave that goading to countries where they need it."
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