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Phil21 wk9 moral responsibility & luck
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Phil21 wk9 moral responsibility & luck

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  • 1. 1. Is A’s action any worse than B’s? 2. Is A more responsible for the death than B? 3. Can we judge A to be a worse person than B? 4. Should the law hold A and B equally responsible?Examples: 2 guys, equally at fault, but varying consequences.Ex: 2 drunk guys drive, unlucky driver A hits & kills a child, is arrested, chargedw/drunk driving & manslaughter. Lucky driver B hit nobody, but was stopped &given a DUI.Ex: 2 hitmen aim at respective targets. Hitman A hits target, but B’s target iswearing a bullet proof vest & survives. Both arrested, A charged w/murder, Bcharged only w/attempted murder.Ex: 2 switchmen work for different railroads. Both were to throw a switch at 10am& both got lazy, failed to do so. Unlucky man A’s train was running & the failure toswitch tracks  train wreck. Lucky man B’s train had engine problems. (Acts ofomission, w/consequences.)Ex: 2 firemen trying to save kids through a burning apartment windows. Man A’schild steps on window ledge which collapses due to poor construction & childdies, fireman feels guilty. Man B successfully saved the other child & iscelebrated on newspaper as hero.In all 4 cases, A is unlucky & B is lucky.  What makes one morally responsible& what does it have to do with luck?
  • 2. Culpability = the degree to which one can be held legally or morally responsible 1. When you actually cause overall bad consequences to happen • Worse consequences = greater culpability 2. When you perform a wrong action • Worse action = greater culpability 3. When you act out of wicked intentions • Worse intentions = greater culpability
  • 3. I DIDN’T KNOW! IT WAS OUT OF MY CONTROL!Ex. hidden stop sign Ex. sleepwalking, or crimes of passion
  • 4. “we’re only responsible for our intentions” Circumstances external to a person should NOT influence our moral judgments of his or her character, action, blameworthiness etc. The only thing that we have complete voluntary control over are our intentions Culpability depends on our intentions. (view 2)
  • 5.  When are your actions morally blameworthy or praiseworthy? • When you are morally responsible for your actions. • When you exercise control over your actions  Kant’s ethics assume that we are all equal rational agents participating inThomas Nagel morality with an equal opportunity to do and be morally praiseworthy and blameworthy. This is wrong!
  • 6. ① Luck in the way your actions and projects turn out ② Luck in how you have been determined by previous circumstances ③ Luck in the temperament, emotions and personality you have ④ Luck in the circumstances you find yourself in“If you’re not in control, how can you be responsible for your luck?”“The things we’re proud of & also want to blame others for are largely b/c of luck.”
  • 7.  From the external (objective) view we take of the world: our lives are just a series of events occurring in a world we have little or no control over. From the internal (subjective) view we take of the world: are beings who makes choices and whose lives could never be reduced to a series of events. Both of these views seem right, but incomplete. They also contradict one another and can not both be true. Together, they’re paradoxical.
  • 8.  Case type 1: • Harm is caused, but the agent is not at fault Case type 2: • Agent causes benefit, but does not deserve any merit for doing so. Case type 3: • The agent act negligently or recklessly (at fault), but no harm is caused.
  • 9. Variables: brakes checked & kid in street Unlucky No Fault Driver Lucky Fault Driver Unlucky Fault DriverThomson: No fault driver did not act badly Lucky fault driver acted badly Unlucky fault driver acted worse because he’s to blame for the death that he caused.
  • 10. General principle: Bad consequence of an action makesthat action worse only where the agent is to blame forthat bad consequence which his action causes Objection from “Kantian moral sophisticate”: You can’t blame someone for something caused merely out of bad luck.Reply:• Unlucky No Fault Driver was unlucky in two ways : (1) that the child ran into his path; (2) that he couldn’t stop his truck on time.• Unlucky Fault Driver was only unlucky (1). The bad breaks were his fault. Objection: You can’t blame someone for something that involved any luck – for anything out of their control Reply: That goes too far. Sure we can!
  • 11. ACTUAL CASE THOMSON’S REVISED VERSION Both Tice and Simonson fire their  During the trial evidence is rifles in Summer’s direction with presented that shows Summers’ equal negligence injury came from Tice’s gun. Summers is struck in the eye and sues his two friends for damages It’s impossible to know which one harmed Summers Court decides they should split the damages equally Simonson acted badly, but is not to legally blame for the injury and should not have to pay damages Morally, however, we do not think Tice’s action worse than Simonson’s
  • 12.  Unlucky fault driver did something worse than lucky fault driver Tice did not do something worse than Simonson, but he is the one that must pay for the damages The difference is that Simonson nearly caused the same exact harm as Tice, but the same can not be said for the lucky fault driver
  • 13.  Ignore it? Embrace it? Split the difference somehow?

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