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The ethics of killing the dead

 
 
Reply Thu 17 Jul, 2008 07:59 am
Let us suppose that Mr. Bullseye is the sworn enemy of Mr. Gravity. Indeed, their enmity is so bitter and ineradicable that one day Mr. Bullseye determines to go to the penthouse home of Mr. Gravity and shoot him dead. On his way to this grim assignment, Mr. Bullseye (who has excellent vision) notes that Mr. Gravity is standing on a window ledge 100 stories above the ground. Mr. Gravity then jumps. He is, without a doubt, going to be killed -- there is no earthly chance that he might survive such a fall. Given that Mr. Gravity is, for all intents and purposes, a dead man, the quick-thinking Mr. Bullseye, not one to be so easily thwarted by fate, decides to fulfill his life's ambition and shoot Mr. Gravity. He takes aim and fires, and Mr. Gravity is shot dead just as he passes the 40th floor. His lifeless body then plummets the remaining distance and splatters upon the sidewalk below.

Now, was Mr. Bullseye wrong to shoot Mr. Gravity?
 
Chai
 
  1  
Reply Thu 17 Jul, 2008 08:19 am
They covered this exact scenerio in the Movie "Magnolia"

A 17-year-old boy, Sydney Barringer, attempts suicide by jumping off the roof of his apartment building; this attempt became a "successful homicide" when he was accidentally shot by his mother as he fell past his own apartment window. His parents regularly argued and threatened each other with a shotgun that was normally kept unloaded. Unbeknown to them, Sydney had loaded the gun a few days earlier hoping they would make good on their threats to kill one another. As a result, he unwittingly became an accomplice in his own murder. The irony here is that a newly installed protective netting for window washers on the building's exterior below their apartment, would have saved his life if he had not been hit by the shotgun blast that he himself had loaded.
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DrewDad
 
  0  
Reply Thu 17 Jul, 2008 08:21 am
Did he have a hunting license?
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DrewDad
 
  1  
Reply Thu 17 Jul, 2008 08:22 am
Chai wrote:
They covered this exact scenerio in the Movie "Magnolia"

A 17-year-old boy, Sydney Barringer, attempts suicide by jumping off the roof of his apartment building; this attempt became a "successful homicide" when he was accidentally shot by his mother as he fell past his own apartment window. His parents regularly argued and threatened each other with a shotgun that was normally kept unloaded. Unbeknown to them, Sydney had loaded the gun a few days earlier hoping they would make good on their threats to kill one another. As a result, he unwittingly became an accomplice in his own murder. The irony here is that a newly installed protective netting for window washers on the building's exterior below their apartment, would have saved his life if he had not been hit by the shotgun blast that he himself had loaded.

Now, that is true tragic irony.
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username
 
  4  
Reply Thu 17 Jul, 2008 08:32 am
Wait, let's give them their real names (or their user names), Mr Gravity is of course OmSigDavid, and Mr. Bullseye is actually cjhsa, our two resident gun freaks.

And to make it more of a judicial dilemma, the actual ending of the story is that OmSig, shot in fall by cj, flails his arms in his final agony, which act like airfoils and move his body sufficiently sidewise so that he falls on cj. His body is moving so fast because of the 100 story fall that he mashes cj flat. Did he kill cj? He was already dead when he fell on him, so he certainly didn't have the volition. But they are both dead.

Moral, he who lives by the gun dies by the gun.
Tai Chi
 
  3  
Reply Thu 17 Jul, 2008 08:38 am
Re: The ethics of killing the dead
joefromchicago wrote:
Now, was Mr. Bullseye wrong to shoot Mr. Gravity?


You're talking ethics as separate from the legal issue, right? Well, Mr. Bullseye took away Mr. Gravity's choice in the matter. Mr. Gravity wanted to kill himself, for his own reasons, in his own way. Mr. Bullseye prevented that from happening. The end result might be the same but it wasn't up to Mr. Bullseye to make that decision for Mr. Gravity.

(And really, isn't it remotely possible that a huge truck full of inflated bouncy castles could have parked directly under Mr. Gravity's fall-path making Mr. Bullseye a murderer? Until he actually hit the ground, Mr. Gravity's fate was "up in the air" -- yeah, wincing as I type that...)

Please be gentle; I remember almost nothing from Philosophy 101.
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dlowan
 
  1  
Reply Thu 17 Jul, 2008 08:44 am
username wrote:
Wait, let's give them their real names (or their user names), Mr Gravity is of course OmSigDavid, and Mr. Bullseye is actually cjhsa, our two resident gun freaks.

And to make it more of a judicial dilemma, the actual ending of the story is that OmSig, shot in fall by cj, flails his arms in his final agony, which act like airfoils and move his body sufficiently sidewise so that he falls on cj. His body is moving so fast because of the 100 story fall that he mashes cj flat. Did he kill cj? He was already dead when he fell on him, so he certainly didn't have the volition. But they are both dead.

Moral, he who lives by the gun dies by the gun.


I thought cj was squished?
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DrewDad
 
  1  
Reply Thu 17 Jul, 2008 08:44 am
Re: The ethics of killing the dead
joefromchicago wrote:
Let us suppose that Mr. Bullseye is the sworn enemy of Mr. Gravity. Indeed, their enmity is so bitter and ineradicable that one day Mr. Bullseye determines to go to the penthouse home of Mr. Gravity and shoot him dead. On his way to this grim assignment, Mr. Bullseye (who has excellent vision) notes that Mr. Gravity is standing on a window ledge 100 stories above the ground. Mr. Gravity then jumps. He is, without a doubt, going to be killed -- there is no earthly chance that he might survive such a fall. Given that Mr. Gravity is, for all intents and purposes, a dead man, the quick-thinking Mr. Bullseye, not one to be so easily thwarted by fate, decides to fulfill his life's ambition and shoot Mr. Gravity. He takes aim and fires, and Mr. Gravity is shot dead just as he passes the 40th floor. His lifeless body then plummets the remaining distance and splatters upon the sidewalk below.

Now, was Mr. Bullseye wrong to shoot Mr. Gravity?

This is all rather ridiculous, in my view. Obviously Mr. Bullseye is not God, and just because he cannot see a way in which Mr. Gravity could survive does not mean that it is impossible. One could further argue that prematurely ending his life two seconds before his inevitable death is still premature. Finally, perhaps Mr. Gravity was enjoying the fall.




I much prefer the moral dilemma in Lost regarding the dying marshall. Marshall is in pain from an infected belly wound, screaming in pain. Someone decides to perform a mercy killing, but botches it. Now the marshall is dying in two ways. Should the doc put the patient out of his misery?
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joefromchicago
 
  2  
Reply Thu 17 Jul, 2008 08:48 am
Re: The ethics of killing the dead
Tai Chi wrote:
joefromchicago wrote:
Now, was Mr. Bullseye wrong to shoot Mr. Gravity?


You're talking ethics as separate from the legal issue, right?

Yes, this is purely an ethical question, not a legal one. And thank you for taking this thread in the serious manner in which it was intended.

Tai Chi wrote:
Well, Mr. Bullseye took away Mr. Gravity's choice in the matter. Mr. Gravity wanted to kill himself, for his own reasons, in his own way. Mr. Bullseye prevented that from happening. The end result might be the same but it wasn't up to Mr. Bullseye to make that decision for Mr. Gravity.

(And really, isn't it remotely possible that a huge truck full of inflated bouncy castles could have parked directly under Mr. Gravity's fall-path making Mr. Bullseye a murderer? Until he actually hit the ground, Mr. Gravity's fate was "up in the air" -- yeah, wincing as I type that...)

Please be gentle; I remember almost nothing from Philosophy 101.

Under the terms of my hypothetical, it is beyond the realm of possibility that Mr. Gravity would survive his fall. There is, consequently, no doubt that, if Mr. Bullseye doesn't kill him, the sidewalk will.
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joefromchicago
 
  1  
Reply Thu 17 Jul, 2008 08:52 am
Re: The ethics of killing the dead
DrewDad wrote:
This is all rather ridiculous, in my view. Obviously Mr. Bullseye is not God, and just because he cannot see a way in which Mr. Gravity could survive does not mean that it is impossible.

Well, in a Humean sense I suppose it's also possible that Mr. Gravity might float suspended in mid-air or fall up rather than down. Anything, after all, is possible.

DrewDad wrote:
One could further argue that prematurely ending his life two seconds before his inevitable death is still premature.

Why should that make any ethical difference?

DrewDad wrote:
I much prefer the moral dilemma in Lost regarding the dying marshall.

Then I encourage you to start your own thread where you may discuss that dilemma in greater depth.
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DrewDad
 
  0  
Reply Thu 17 Jul, 2008 08:58 am
Re: The ethics of killing the dead
joefromchicago wrote:
DrewDad wrote:
This is all rather ridiculous, in my view. Obviously Mr. Bullseye is not God, and just because he cannot see a way in which Mr. Gravity could survive does not mean that it is impossible.

Well, in a Humean sense I suppose it's also possible that Mr. Gravity might float suspended in mid-air or fall up rather than down. Anything, after all, is possible.

Mr. Bullseye may not know that Mr. Gravity is actually MacGuyver and can fashion a parachute from his topcoat....

joefromchicago wrote:
DrewDad wrote:
One could further argue that prematurely ending his life two seconds before his inevitable death is still premature.

Why should that make any ethical difference?

What length of time does make an ethical difference? Two seconds, two days, two years? We all die eventually, so based on this let's just make murder legal.
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dlowan
 
  2  
Reply Thu 17 Jul, 2008 09:05 am
Yep...he was wrong.


a. His motive was revenge of some sort, and revenge is dumb and reprehensible

b. he killed a person, and, given that we all will die, the fact that Gravity was going to die soon simply made the time of his death more predictable....you could use the argument that the person was going to die anyway to justify any murder.

c. he may well have caused Gravity more pain than he was going to suffer anyway...we have no way of knowing, and risking increasing his suffering is indefensible.
Eva
 
  1  
Reply Thu 17 Jul, 2008 09:10 am
Honestly, I think you guys are making this whole thing more complicated than it needs to be.

You intentionally shoot and kill someone, you're guilty. The rest of it is just rationalization.

Where are you going with this, joe? Euthanasia, perhaps?
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Tai Chi
 
  1  
Reply Thu 17 Jul, 2008 09:15 am
Re: The ethics of killing the dead
joefromchicago wrote:
Under the terms of my hypothetical, it is beyond the realm of possibility that Mr. Gravity would survive his fall. There is, consequently, no doubt that, if Mr. Bullseye doesn't kill him, the sidewalk will.


Okay, but I'm still fixated on the "who gets to make that decision" aspect. Mr. Gravity has acted knowing what the outcome will be. The outcome is the same after Mr. Bullseye's action but while Mr. Gravity knows the fall will kill him, he hasn't given permission to Mr. Bullseye to help him die sooner. (I'm going in circles here and have to leave for work. Will think on it. Looking forward to other contributions.)
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Swimpy
 
  2  
Reply Thu 17 Jul, 2008 09:18 am
I suppose you could argue that shooting him was a mercy killing because the fall would be a more painful way to die. In that sense, maybe he wasn't wrong. From the story, it doesn't sound like that was Mr. Bullseye's intent. He wanted to be the one to cause Mr. Gravity's death. This is an act of revenge. Revenge is wrong.
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DrewDad
 
  1  
Reply Thu 17 Jul, 2008 09:24 am
What if he timed his shot to coincide with the splat?
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joefromchicago
 
  1  
Reply Thu 17 Jul, 2008 09:41 am
"All of this talk about 'revenge being bad' and all is purely beside the point," Mr. Bullseye would say. "After all, revenge is merely an abstract concept. In the actual circumstances surrounding Mr. Gravity's demise, revenge is rather irrelevant. Whether I wanted to shoot him from spite or for sport, it really doesn't matter, since Mr. Gravity was as good as dead as soon as he stepped off that ledge. And if you're saying that revenge is wrong in my case, you have to assert that it's wrong in all cases, and I can't see how you can argue that. After all, in certain circumstances, we consider revenge to be a good thing. Surely some of you take a special delight when you hear of a victim beating up a bully. But, as I said before, it doesn't matter what my motivations were, since the result would have been the same regardless: Mr. Gravity is no more dead because I shot him than he would have been if I hadn't."
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DrewDad
 
  1  
Reply Thu 17 Jul, 2008 09:45 am
Re: The ethics of killing the dead
joefromchicago wrote:
DrewDad wrote:
One could further argue that prematurely ending his life two seconds before his inevitable death is still premature.

Why should that make any ethical difference?

What length of time does make an ethical difference? Two seconds, two days, two years? We all die eventually, so based on this let's just make murder legal.
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Eva
 
  1  
Reply Thu 17 Jul, 2008 09:45 am
Rationalizations, joe.

Doesn't change the fact that he intentionally shot and killed him.
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DrewDad
 
  2  
Reply Thu 17 Jul, 2008 10:08 am
<Pulls out gun, shoots Mr. Bullseye.>

Next!
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