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Should witnesses be held responsible when they do not assist in a crime?

 
 
BillRM
 
  1  
Reply Fri 10 Apr, 2009 04:59 pm
@Heeven,
I think we do have some moral obligations to a fellow "tribial" member being attack.

We seem to had lost that group ID but we still see it from time to time after 1911 it seem that anyone with heavy equipment within a hundred miles headed for ground zero to help.

After hurricana Andrew did it number on south florida in 1992 people was very nice to each others and was more then willing to help out where needed.

During the great power black out in the North East a great number of people headed for major intersections in new York and play traffic cops with fashlights
OCCOM BILL
 
  1  
Reply Fri 10 Apr, 2009 05:35 pm
@Linkat,
Linkat wrote:
To what extent are witnesses responsible? Should they be legally responsible? Should they be morally responsible?
Morally? Probably. To the extent a man has the ability to help; I believe this ability comes with a responsibility to do so. Morally, a witness who has the ability to help, and chooses to nothing; is as guilty as he who committed the heinous crime himself.

That being said; we are all made of different stuff. The most genuinely decent man I've ever known, would likely have done nothing. On at least two occasions I'm aware of; he was in situations where a man of his size would normally have thrown down; and didn't. Instead; he froze... and later he felt horrible about it... a self depreciating kind of horrible that was completely uncalled for. After all, it is a truly decent human being that is utterly incapable of striking another. I don’t believe people have much control over their fight or flight mechanisms during emergency situations.

That’s not the same as the guy who has the ability, and chooses to do nothing… or the guy or girl who’s afraid they lack the ability in the first place. Hence, the moral responsibility has to be assessed by the facts of the particular case. If Mike Tyson does nothing while Peewee Herman commits rape: Mike Tyson’s guilty as hell. If Peewee Herman does nothing while Mike Tyson commits rape, that’s understandable.

But even there, it isn’t so cut and dry. He who neither assists the victim nor the attacker is still guilty as hell if he’s enjoying the show and/or encouraging the behavior in any way. I once listened to an accused domestic abuser try to excuse his lack of realization that what he was doing was wrong, by pointing out another man and he were laughing like crazy as he did it. In Bill’s world; both of these fuckers deserve the chair. (Incredibly, the Judge was largely unmoved in any direction by the absurd excuse.)(Twas all I could do, to keep my mouth shut).

I’ve never encountered a rape in progress, myself, but have encountered other incidents of male on female violence. My reaction is basically involuntary, and is to take control of the situation immediately. It’s not a decision, really, it is pure reaction. Same goes for male on male; if one of the participants is clearly unwilling. Two guys decide to duke it out? Definitely not my problem… or even a concern really… unless it’s at my place or if one goes unconscious.

To my mind, the culpability factor should have everything to do with the “witness’s” explanation.
“I wanted to act, but couldn’t”: is guilty of nothing.
“I could have helped, but decided it wasn’t my problem”: is guilty of depraved indifference.
“The bitch had it coming”: is a party to the crime by way of encouragement, and should be charged and convicted accordingly.

I would very much like to live in a world where all people offered what help they could in such situations... but I really don’t think it’s even an option for everyone. Hence, I don’t think any legal responsibility could reasonably be legislated… beyond an optional depraved indifference type of law. Any such law, would have to be crafted very carefully to not allow people to be held responsible, simply because they were afraid… or because they froze.
OmSigDAVID
 
  0  
Reply Sat 11 Apr, 2009 02:53 am
@joefromchicago,
joefromchicago wrote:

Linkat wrote:

I would think they could at least shout at the man - it could be just enough so the girl could manage to get away or could be enough incentive to stop him knowing some one else is involved.

Well, maybe. But then again, maybe not. The rapist, after all, was mentally ill, as the victim readily concedes -- it didn't seem to deter him that he was raping a woman in a public place with witnesses around, so I'm not sure that yelling at the guy would have done a whole lot of good.

Action tends to give rise to obligation, whereas inaction doesn't.
That's true both in law and in morality. If, for instance, Abel,
who sees Baker, a blind man, walk into the middle of a busy street,
does nothing, he can't be blamed if Baker gets hit by a car.
Abel, after all, wasn't responsible for Baker walking into the middle of traffic,
so why should he be blamed when Baker gets run over?
On the other hand, if Abel leads Baker into traffic,
he can't very well abandon him in the middle of the street
and escape responsibility if Baker gets hit. One who acts,
therefore, must bear the consequences of his actions.

If the subway employee acts to stop the rape but is negligent in
is attempt and fails, he could find himself both legally and morally
responsible for the rape. Most people, given the choice of acting
and possibly suffering adverse consequences as a result, or else
not acting and avoiding any possible adverse results, would
choose inaction. A rule that required action, therefore, would
have the perverse effect of discouraging people from getting
involved in the first place. Instead of calling the police,
the rational bystander would run from the scene of any crime that
he witnessed, in the hopes that he wouldn't be forced to act to
his possible detriment. Better, then, to have a rule (legal or moral)
that encourages people to act voluntarily rather than one that punishes those who don't.

I can see a 13th Amendment argument
against government extorting the labor of a citizen
to involve himself in rescuing his fellow citizens
, to wit:
citizen, in effect, says to his hireling government:
"go to hell; I am not your slave; no involuntary servitude";
(the only exceptions that I can think of being military conscription,
in that it is explicitly set forth in the Constitution, and of course,
incarceration of convicted criminals, which the text of the 13th Amendment itself recognizes).





David
0 Replies
 
joefromchicago
 
  1  
Reply Sat 11 Apr, 2009 08:40 am
@OCCOM BILL,
OCCOM BILL wrote:
That’s not the same as the guy who has the ability, and chooses to do nothing… or the guy or girl who’s afraid they lack the ability in the first place. Hence, the moral responsibility has to be assessed by the facts of the particular case. If Mike Tyson does nothing while Peewee Herman commits rape: Mike Tyson’s guilty as hell. If Peewee Herman does nothing while Mike Tyson commits rape, that’s understandable.

There's just so much wrong with this position that I have a hard time figuring out where to begin.

According to you, decent guys who "freeze up" when confronted with a rescue situation are not blameworthy, even though they could have intervened to save the victim. Wouldn't that rule, though, encourage everyone to "freeze up?" Even Mike Tyson? For instance, suppose Decent Guy sees a rape in progress. He can try to rescue the victim, but instead he freezes. The rape takes place, but Decent Guy escapes any moral culpability because "that's just the kind of guy he is -- he's a freezer." Now, suppose Decent Guy sees a rape in progress and he intervenes, but in his haste to intervene he doesn't summon the police. As it turns out, his intervention is so clumsy that he not only doesn't stop the rape, his failure to call the police prevents any other assistance to the victim. Decent Guy now is morally culpable because his effort to intervene was unsuccessful and because he caused additional injury to the victim due to his failure to summon aid. In that situation, wouldn't it have been better if Decent Guy did nothing at all? And if so, how can Decent Guy know beforehand whether he is morally obligated to intervene?

A rational bystander, confronted with this choice, would naturally choose to "freeze up," since that choice is not morally blameworthy (and if we hold that the Mike Tysons of the world don't have the option to choose to "freeze up," then they would simply claim that "freezing up" is a natural response, like Decent Guy -- I don't know how anyone could tell the difference between the two). That's a rather odd result, given that you want a moral rule that results in more bystander intervention, not less.

Moral rules, in order to be of any practical value, must be able to guide actions with some predictability. If a moral rule doesn't inform a person of an action's moral value before the the person acts, then the rule has very little practical value. That's why pure consequentialism is such an impractical moral system -- no one knows, before acting, whether they will be acting morally or immorally. Furthermore, the rules must be clear not only to the person acting, but also to third parties. In other words, a rule must not only answer the question "should I act" but also "should you act," since a rule that answered only the first question would soon descend into moral relativism.

In the O'Billiverse, we might be able to answer the first question. PeeWee Herman and Decent Guy, faced with the question "should I act," can answer (for different reasons) "no." It's rather more difficult, however, for the moral rule you support to answer the second question satisfactorily. A disinterested bystander has no way of knowing that Decent Guy, who otherwise appears quite capable of intervening, is a "freezer," or that PeeWee doesn't have unsuspected strength (or maybe a handgun stuffed down the front of his pants). If we simply say "we'll take Decent Guy's word that he is a 'freezer,'" then we're again treading dangerously close to moral relativism, where everybody gets to decide what is moral for himself. Either that, or else we're back to having every bystander simply claiming that he's a "freezer" by nature, whether he is or not.

The moral rule in a rescue situation must be clear, so that it can guide the bystander's actions and serve as the basis of any third-party to judge whether the bystander's action was blameworthy or praiseworthy according to an objective standard. A rule such as "intervention is not morally required in such a situation, absent some duty on the part of the bystander to the victim" is a straightforward rule that addresses both requirements. In contrast, a rule that states "intervention is morally required, unless the bystander is unable to intervene" creates a subjective rule that ultimately leaves the decision to the bystander.
dlowan
 
  1  
Reply Sat 11 Apr, 2009 07:26 pm
@joefromchicago,
Quote:
In contrast, a rule that states "intervention is morally required, unless the bystander is unable to intervene" creates a subjective rule that ultimately leaves the decision to the bystander.



Which is pretty much where it is now, eh?



I personally feel morally obliged to help to the greatest extent I am able to.

That's a subjective decision at the time, and one made when in an agitated state, and without all information; eg in a situation where we DID intervene, we had no idea whether the offender was armed or not, as we responded to a DV situation in a house, when the police we had called went straight past the house and did not find it for a further 20 minutes...all we knew was that a woman was screaming for help.

Bill's post was full of Bill hyperbole, what with the executions and all, but underneath the hyperbole, and without the draconian attitude, I think helping if you can is a reasonable social guideline.

Given legally you don't have to do much, I don't think people are gonna be too harshly judged if they don't do much.

BillRM
 
  1  
Reply Sun 12 Apr, 2009 02:43 am
In the South Florida area yesterday six by-standers did stop and save a couple from a burning car.

Nice to hear some good news concerning people helping people every once in a blue moon.
0 Replies
 
OmSigDAVID
 
  0  
Reply Sun 12 Apr, 2009 03:33 am
Quote:
Should witnesses be held responsible
when they do not assist in a crime?

ABSOLUTELY NOT!


Everyone has a natural right and a constitutional right to mind his own business.

Suppose u see (but did not cause)
your nastiest enemy fall victim to robbery and multifarious abuses in the street.

U whip out your handy multi-megapixex digital camera
to commemorate the occasion, from several different angles,
with good close-ups (from the telephoto lens) of his countenance during the experience
and later have his other enemies over for a party when u screen your photografy
for the mirth & lighthearted frivolity of your guests, while distributing popcorn n booze!


That 's OK,
but if u missed any of it, u shoud not request the criminal
for re-enactments; there coud be legal problems with that.




David


P.S.:
Whether or not u invite your enemy to the screening:
I leave to your own discretion.
0 Replies
 
joefromchicago
 
  2  
Reply Mon 13 Apr, 2009 08:40 am
@dlowan,
dlowan wrote:

Quote:
In contrast, a rule that states "intervention is morally required, unless the bystander is unable to intervene" creates a subjective rule that ultimately leaves the decision to the bystander.



Which is pretty much where it is now, eh?

No, not really. Intervention is not morally required, even if the bystander is able to intervene, unless there is some duty on the part of the bystander to intervene. We may encourage intervention and regard it as praiseworthy, but, under normal circumstances, non-intervention is not blameworthy.
OCCOM BILL
 
  1  
Reply Mon 13 Apr, 2009 09:48 am
@joefromchicago,
joefromchicago wrote:

dlowan wrote:

Quote:
In contrast, a rule that states "intervention is morally required, unless the bystander is unable to intervene" creates a subjective rule that ultimately leaves the decision to the bystander.



Which is pretty much where it is now, eh?

No, not really. Intervention is not morally required, even if the bystander is able to intervene, unless there is some duty on the part of the bystander to intervene. We may encourage intervention and regard it as praiseworthy, but, under normal circumstances, non-intervention is not blameworthy.
Sez you Joe. You seem to imagine there's some all-encompassing collective morality at work here AND incredibly, you think it concurs with your bizarre position that he who can help and chooses not to isn't morally repugnant. I'd like to think the majority of people would like to believe they'd offer whatever help they could, even if their own fight or flight mechanisms wouldn't necessarily allow them to.

In your bizarre fantasy world; the United States Olympic Boxing Team could stand by while a woman was raped; and no one should find their inaction morally reprehensible. Your position is absurd.
OmSigDAVID
 
  0  
Reply Mon 13 Apr, 2009 09:53 am
@OCCOM BILL,
OCCOM BILL wrote:

joefromchicago wrote:

dlowan wrote:

Quote:
In contrast, a rule that states "intervention is morally required, unless the bystander is unable to intervene" creates a subjective rule that ultimately leaves the decision to the bystander.



Which is pretty much where it is now, eh?

No, not really. Intervention is not morally required, even if the bystander is able to intervene, unless there is some duty on the part of the bystander to intervene. We may encourage intervention and regard it as praiseworthy, but, under normal circumstances, non-intervention is not blameworthy.
Sez you Joe. You seem to imagine there's some all-encompassing collective morality at work here AND incredibly, you think it concurs with your bizarre position that he who can help and chooses not to isn't morally repugnant.
I'd like to think the majority of people would like to believe they'd offer whatever help they could, even if their own fight or flight mechanisms wouldn't necessarily allow them to.

In your bizarre fantasy world; the United States Olympic Boxing Team could stand by while a woman was raped; and no one should find their inaction morally reprehensible. Your position is absurd.


This is not evidence of anything.

Its like saying: "I 'd like to think pink is nicer than yellow."



David
0 Replies
 
joefromchicago
 
  1  
Reply Mon 13 Apr, 2009 10:25 am
@OCCOM BILL,
OCCOM BILL wrote:
Sez you Joe. You seem to imagine there's some all-encompassing collective morality at work here AND incredibly, you think it concurs with your bizarre position that he who can help and chooses not to isn't morally repugnant. I'd like to think the majority of people would like to believe they'd offer whatever help they could, even if their own fight or flight mechanisms wouldn't necessarily allow them to.

In your bizarre fantasy world; the United States Olympic Boxing Team could stand by while a woman was raped; and no one should find their inaction morally reprehensible. Your position is absurd.


Sez you, O'BILL.
0 Replies
 
Linkat
 
  1  
Reply Mon 13 Apr, 2009 11:32 am
@OmSigDAVID,
Duh, of course I do - you do understand I was making a funny right?
0 Replies
 
Linkat
 
  1  
Reply Mon 13 Apr, 2009 11:37 am
@Heeven,
I think sometimes people just don't know what to do and freeze. I think most people would react if you asked them directly to help.

And yes, it was probably horrible for her to see these individuals in a sense watching her being attacked.

I don't necessarily think it should be a law, because sometimes it isn't out of selfishness and fear, just sort of an initial reaction - sometime people automatically respond without thought and others just freeze without thought. Me, when I responded quite honestly it wasn't something heroic or brave - just more instintive - I didnt' think I need to be brave and help this person being beaten - I didn't think; I simply reacted.

I wonder what the difference is that prompts some one to action?
0 Replies
 
Linkat
 
  1  
Reply Mon 13 Apr, 2009 11:38 am
@BillRM,
In your examples, it almost shows that one people think, they do help, but when they don't most do not help...
0 Replies
 
Linkat
 
  1  
Reply Mon 13 Apr, 2009 11:40 am
@OCCOM BILL,
Thank you, I thinked you summed it up quite nicely.
0 Replies
 
 

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