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The ethics of killing the dead

 
 
joefromchicago
 
  1  
Reply Thu 17 Jul, 2008 10:11 am
Re: The ethics of killing the dead
DrewDad wrote:
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.

"That's just a slippery slope argument," retorts Mr. Bullseye, "and in this case it constitutes a logical fallacy. After all, I'm not setting a precedent that is applicable in all other circumstances -- just in the very unusual circumstances presented in this case.

"Look at it this way," Mr. B continues, "there was a certain quantum of 'wrongness' that was inevitable once Mr. G stepped off the ledge. Now, I didn't push him -- in fact, I would have much preferred it if he hadn't stepped off that ledge. But he was the one who set that train of events in motion, and once he stepped off the ledge he was a dead man, regardless of what I did. It's true that I shot him, but it's just as true that I didn't contribute any additional 'wrongness' to the situation. Either way, Mr. Gravity was going to end up dead. Nor did my shooting Mr. G encourage anyone else either to leap to their deaths or to shoot people who are not leaping to their deaths. So why should I be considered unethical when, in the final analysis, nothing that I did changed the final outcome of the events?"
0 Replies
 
DrewDad
 
  1  
Reply Thu 17 Jul, 2008 10:17 am
I do believe Mr. Bullseye didn't understand my point. I was already pointing out that it's a slippery slope, and that if he thinks it's OK to truncate a life by two seconds then it would follow that it would be OK to truncate a life by two years.

At which point, we execute Mr. Bullseye for murder go on with our lives.
0 Replies
 
Eva
 
  2  
Reply Thu 17 Jul, 2008 12:20 pm
Re: The ethics of killing the dead
joefromchicago wrote:
"Look at it this way," Mr. B continues, "there was a certain quantum of 'wrongness' that was inevitable once Mr. G stepped off the ledge. Now, I didn't push him -- in fact, I would have much preferred it if he hadn't stepped off that ledge. But he was the one who set that train of events in motion, and once he stepped off the ledge he was a dead man, regardless of what I did. It's true that I shot him, but it's just as true that I didn't contribute any additional 'wrongness' to the situation. Either way, Mr. Gravity was going to end up dead...


I disagree.

Two individuals, two actions.
1. Mr. G - steps off a ledge
2. Mr. B - shoots and kills Mr. G

We're not discussing the ethics of #1. We're discussing #2. Mr. B is trying to blur the lines to excuse his actions.

Quote:
...Nor did my shooting Mr. G encourage anyone else either to leap to their deaths or to shoot people who are not leaping to their deaths...


Irrelevant.

Quote:
...So why should I be considered unethical when, in the final analysis, nothing that I did changed the final outcome of the events?"


Ethics are not dependent on final outcome. Ethical conduct concerns itself with the "rightness" or "wrongness" of the action itself.
0 Replies
 
joefromchicago
 
  1  
Reply Thu 17 Jul, 2008 12:56 pm
DrewDad wrote:
I do believe Mr. Bullseye didn't understand my point. I was already pointing out that it's a slippery slope, and that if he thinks it's OK to truncate a life by two seconds then it would follow that it would be OK to truncate a life by two years.

Mr. Bullseye is fully aware that you were making a slippery slope argument. He just thinks that it wasn't a particularly good slippery slope argument.
0 Replies
 
joefromchicago
 
  1  
Reply Thu 17 Jul, 2008 01:05 pm
Re: The ethics of killing the dead
Eva wrote:
I disagree.

Two individuals, two actions.
1. Mr. G - steps off a ledge
2. Mr. B - shoots and kills Mr. G

We're not discussing the ethics of #1. We're discussing #2. Mr. B is trying to blur the lines to excuse his actions.

"There's no question that we're only talking about the ethics of my actions," counters Mr. Bullseye. "But you can't divorce the action from the context. If I had shot Mr. Gravity with a squirt gun, that would have been a different action, just as if I had pushed Mr. G off the ledge. Context means a lot. I don't deny that I shot Mr. G, but you can't deny that he was going to die anyway."

Eva wrote:
Quote:
...Nor did my shooting Mr. G encourage anyone else either to leap to their deaths or to shoot people who are not leaping to their deaths...


Irrelevant.

"Tell that to the people who use slippery slope arguments," says Mr. B.

Eva wrote:
Quote:
...So why should I be considered unethical when, in the final analysis, nothing that I did changed the final outcome of the events?"


Ethics are not dependent on final outcome. Ethical conduct concerns itself with the "rightness" or "wrongness" of the action itself.

Mr. B becomes indignant: "I disagree. I judge actions by the sum total of good or evil that is produced by those actions. You may judge my actions wrong according to your own ethical principles, but you can't say that my actions are wrong under my ethical principles."
0 Replies
 
High Seas
 
  1  
Reply Thu 17 Jul, 2008 01:17 pm
Re: The ethics of killing the dead
joefromchicago wrote:
[..............] I don't deny that I shot Mr. G, but you can't deny that he was going to die anyway."


Joe - entirely separate from both law and ethics is the logical problem with your title >

Quote:
Re: The ethics of killing the dead


> which isn't just a fallacy - it's a complete impossibility. "The ethics of killing the quasi-dead", or the "nearly dead" would fix the problem, mathematically speaking, and I'm sure you can improve on my wording.

What did you have in mind?
0 Replies
 
Eva
 
  1  
Reply Thu 17 Jul, 2008 01:18 pm
"I don't give a damn about your ethical principals, or lack of them," says Eva. "Joe asked my opinion. If you've got a problem with that, take it up with Joe. But if I were you, I'd ask him about his hourly rate first."
0 Replies
 
DrewDad
 
  1  
Reply Thu 17 Jul, 2008 01:21 pm
joefromchicago wrote:
DrewDad wrote:
I do believe Mr. Bullseye didn't understand my point. I was already pointing out that it's a slippery slope, and that if he thinks it's OK to truncate a life by two seconds then it would follow that it would be OK to truncate a life by two years.

Mr. Bullseye is fully aware that you were making a slippery slope argument. He just thinks that it wasn't a particularly good slippery slope argument.

Mr. Bullseye would be wrong.
0 Replies
 
DrewDad
 
  1  
Reply Thu 17 Jul, 2008 01:27 pm
Re: The ethics of killing the dead
joefromchicago wrote:
"There's no question that we're only talking about the ethics of my actions," counters Mr. Bullseye. "But you can't divorce the action from the context. If I had shot Mr. Gravity with a squirt gun, that would have been a different action, just as if I had pushed Mr. G off the ledge. Context means a lot. I don't deny that I shot Mr. G, but you can't deny that he was going to die anyway."

Now Mr. Bullseye is making a poor argument. In stating "he was going to die anyway," he is stating a universal truth for all of humankind, not something that makes this particular situation unique.
0 Replies
 
DrewDad
 
  1  
Reply Thu 17 Jul, 2008 01:31 pm
Re: The ethics of killing the dead
joefromchicago wrote:
"Look at it this way," Mr. B continues, "there was a certain quantum of 'wrongness' that was inevitable once Mr. G stepped off the ledge. Now, I didn't push him -- in fact, I would have much preferred it if he hadn't stepped off that ledge. But he was the one who set that train of events in motion, and once he stepped off the ledge he was a dead man, regardless of what I did. It's true that I shot him, but it's just as true that I didn't contribute any additional 'wrongness' to the situation. Either way, Mr. Gravity was going to end up dead. Nor did my shooting Mr. G encourage anyone else either to leap to their deaths or to shoot people who are not leaping to their deaths. So why should I be considered unethical when, in the final analysis, nothing that I did changed the final outcome of the events?"

First, I take exception of attempting to use scientific terms, such as "quantum" or "quanta" in this discussion. What is a "quanta" of wrongness? Is there a "cjhsa-on" particle?

Second, Mr. Bullseye did, in fact, affect the outcome. Mr. Gravity's life was, one assumes, measureable shorter than it would have been otherwise.
0 Replies
 
joefromchicago
 
  1  
Reply Thu 17 Jul, 2008 01:42 pm
Eva wrote:
"I don't give a damn about your ethical principals, or lack of them," says Eva. "Joe asked my opinion."

A fair point, but then you'll never convince Mr. B that he's wrong unless you argue that he's wrong according to his own ethical principles.
0 Replies
 
joefromchicago
 
  1  
Reply Thu 17 Jul, 2008 01:51 pm
Re: The ethics of killing the dead
DrewDad wrote:
Now Mr. Bullseye is making a poor argument. In stating "he was going to die anyway," he is stating a universal truth for all of humankind, not something that makes this particular situation unique.

To quote Woody Allen in Love and Death:
    Isn't all mankind ultimately executed for a crime it never committed? The difference is that all men go eventually, but I go six o'clock tomorrow morning. I was supposed to go at five o'clock, but I have a smart lawyer. Got leniency.
In the same fashion, the difference is that all men die eventually, but Mr. G will die in a couple of seconds.

DrewDad wrote:
Mr. Bullseye did, in fact, affect the outcome. Mr. Gravity's life was, one assumes, measureable shorter than it would have been otherwise.

But what's the practical import of that action? If we're talking about Mr. G's quality of life, it is not appreciably diminished by being shortened by those few moments. To put that in perspective, let's say that you found out that the soft drink you had this afternoon contained a chemical which shortened your life expectancy by two seconds. What amount of harm did you suffer as a result of that? What sort of compensation would you deserve from the soft drink manufacturer?
0 Replies
 
Eva
 
  1  
Reply Thu 17 Jul, 2008 02:01 pm
Why should I adjust my argument to fit a murderer's "principals"? Let him adjust his thinking to fit mine!

He's going to have plenty of time to think about it anyway. If he doesn't figure it out by himself, perhaps the prison psychologist will have better luck explaining it to him.
0 Replies
 
DrewDad
 
  1  
Reply Thu 17 Jul, 2008 02:08 pm
Re: The ethics of killing the dead
joefromchicago wrote:
DrewDad wrote:
Mr. Bullseye did, in fact, affect the outcome. Mr. Gravity's life was, one assumes, measureable shorter than it would have been otherwise.

But what's the practical import of that action? If we're talking about Mr. G's quality of life, it is not appreciably diminished by being shortened by those few moments. To put that in perspective, let's say that you found out that the soft drink you had this afternoon contained a chemical which shortened your life expectancy by two seconds. What amount of harm did you suffer as a result of that? What sort of compensation would you deserve from the soft drink manufacturer?

Practical on what time frame? Over the course of the life of the universe, killing Mr. Bullseye now would have no practical effect although it might matter to Mr. Bullseye.

I suppose with 2.00000000000001 seconds to live, shortening it by 2 seconds might matter to Mr. Gravity as well.


If we're discussing practicality then I'd have to say this whole thing is a monumental waste of time for everyone involved.
0 Replies
 
Eva
 
  1  
Reply Thu 17 Jul, 2008 05:30 pm
Besides, the opening premise was faulty. It wouldn't be "killing the dead." Mr. G was alive at the time.

As High Seas said, it's impossible to kill the dead.
0 Replies
 
DrewDad
 
  1  
Reply Thu 17 Jul, 2008 05:37 pm
Ya'll obviously need an education in zombie movies.
0 Replies
 
joefromchicago
 
  1  
Reply Fri 18 Jul, 2008 07:53 am
Eva wrote:
Besides, the opening premise was faulty. It wouldn't be "killing the dead." Mr. G was alive at the time.

As High Seas said, it's impossible to kill the dead.

I suppose one could say that Mr. Gravity is "dead" in sort of a Schrödingeresque sense that he is in a state between life and death. More to the point, "The ethics of killing someone who is just moments away from being dead" wouldn't fit into a title.
0 Replies
 
joefromchicago
 
  1  
Reply Fri 18 Jul, 2008 07:54 am
Re: The ethics of killing the dead
DrewDad wrote:
Practical on what time frame? Over the course of the life of the universe ...

Rolling Eyes
0 Replies
 
DrewDad
 
  1  
Reply Fri 18 Jul, 2008 08:20 am
Re: The ethics of killing the dead
joefromchicago wrote:
DrewDad wrote:
Practical on what time frame? Over the course of the life of the universe ...

Rolling Eyes

That's pretty much how I feel about Mr. Bullseye saying that being two seconds from being dead is the same as being dead. Or that being in the process of dying is the same as being dead.

We're all in the process of dying. Eating, breathing, taking medication are all just measures to delay the inevitable.

The only possible conclusion is that Mr. Bullseye has a criminal thinking error.
0 Replies
 
DrewDad
 
  1  
Reply Fri 18 Jul, 2008 08:25 am
joefromchicago wrote:
I suppose one could say that Mr. Gravity is "dead" in sort of a Schrödingeresque sense that he is in a state between life and death.

Except that would be false. Schrödinger was struggling with the observer effect in quantum mechanics. In your hypothetical here, there is no ambiguity about whether Mr. Gravity is actually alive or not when Mr. Bullseye pulls the trigger.
0 Replies
 
 

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