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Question: Is the child at all morally culpable? (Please read the first post.)
Yes - 9 (64.3%)
No - 5 (35.7%)
Total Voters: 13

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Author Topic: Moral Culpability for Actions  (Read 5219 times)
westkybitcoins
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February 21, 2012, 03:31:24 AM
 #1

For this hypothetical, let us presume that you have a child, around 6 years of age.

Scenario:

Quote
You and your child are walking on the sidewalk right past a playground. Near the sidewalk are a group of children around your child's age. Their backs are turned to you, as they are all apparently fascinated by something on the ground in front of them.

Your child creeps up behind the group, and looks back to confirm that you're watching. When inches away from the group, he yells, "Run, there's a dog!"

Screams come from some of the kids as they run forward. In the commotion, a little girl is bumped by a larger child, subsequently falls, and skins her knee. She starts to cry. Your child is rolling on the ground laughing.


Simple question: Is your child at all morally culpable for the little girl being hurt?


(It may make a difference if you stop to consider if you would attempt to correct the child's behavior in such a scenario.)

If you aren't sure, or think it primarily depends on other factors, then there is no need to vote, as only "Yes" and "No" are options, and your vote can't be changed afterwards.

Comments and/or explanations encouraged, regardless of your vote (or non-vote.) Also, if you vote "No" but would still attempt to correct the child's behavior, a brief explanation of your thinking would probably be helpful to the discussion.

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February 21, 2012, 04:00:26 AM
 #2

Yes.

As would I be for allowing my child to be raised in such a callous manner as to incite group hysteria that led to the injury of the other child.

Both the child and the parent should receive an appropriate consequence for their actions (or lack of action, in the case of the parent) the child deprivation of a favored possession and an educational trip to learn about what taking care of skinned knees is all about, and assisting the other child in recovery.

The parent must assume all responsibility for the costs associated with care of the other child's wounds, and must face both that child and the parents to explain his poor performance as a parent.

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February 21, 2012, 04:11:09 AM
 #3

Not in any community I have ever or would ever choose to live in. I blame the parents for being inept, but not culpable. I raised wonderful and college educated children that are now productive tax payers. I don't ask society to pay me for producing these tax revenue generators and in turn I expect a social contract in my community that shares some of the expenses of the commons, like healthcare for children.

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February 21, 2012, 04:15:44 AM
 #4

My answer was no. Only the adult there begs to know the difference, so is responsible for teaching it to that child. If the child turns in a 40 year old still doing the same thing, because the "watcher", who knew better, didn't intervene when he was 6 (or up until 40), then it's not the now adult's fault for performing an action that they thought was acceptable their whole life. We're a herd species, and we predominantly learn our behavior from others, either by example or discipline.

Something we might take for granted - eating meat, could easily be passed on in different ways, depending on who is watching, and who is or isn't commanding. The same applies to religion. We believe what our parents believe until they're not our only source of information.

If the thought occurs independently (without sight of others, and through pure logical reasoning alone), the child may change his behavior autonomously, but I would think that's extremely rare.
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February 21, 2012, 04:35:40 AM
 #5

Four votes so far, but already interesting. I'll wait a bit longer before commenting further.

Also, the first post has a link to the specific definition of "culpable" that I'm using; no legal obligation or warranting of an aggressive response is meant by it.

Bitcoin is the ultimate freedom test. It tells you who is giving lip service and who genuinely believes in it.
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In the future, books that summarize the history of money will have a line that says, “and then came bitcoin.” It is the economic singularity. And we are living in it now. - Ryan Dickherber
...
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ATTENTION BFL MINING NEWBS: Just got your Jalapenos in? Wondering how to get the most value for the least hassle? Give BitMinter a try! It's a smaller pool with a fair & low-fee payment method, lots of statistical feedback, and it's easier than EasyMiner! (Yes, we want your hashing power, but seriously, it IS the easiest pool to use! Sign up in seconds to try it!)
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February 21, 2012, 04:40:24 AM
 #6

I think the objective answer is both answers because reality stands under no morality. Whether the child is held "culpable" to the preceding events is only up to the whims of the powers above him, if any.

Morality only exists in the individual human perception. Blame and consequence stands under only human subjects of varying perceptions. The answer is dependent only on culture. The actions against the child will only be made according to subjective whims.

My take:

Honestly, who cares if the girl skinned her knee? She'll heal. I would make a suggestion to my child to be more empathetic to those in pain. Otherwise, life goes on. Nothing was lost but another experience was gained.

The true question is if this is really worth thinking about -- unless you're an authoritarian bent on shoving your flavor of morality down everybody's throats?

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February 21, 2012, 12:29:24 PM
 #7

I'd be furious with one of my kids laughing at the person in pain.  But the prank is just a fun thing kids do.

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February 21, 2012, 05:11:21 PM
 #8

A much simpler scenario might clear things up.

Let's suppose I have a gun in my hand and I'm demonstrating it to my neighbor with whom I have a friendly relationship. Someone comes up from behind me and produces a loud percussive bang. In response and without provocation, I reflexively contract my muscles due to the unexpected startling noise. The gun discharges a bullet instantly killing my friend.

Who's at fault, and for what?

Does it matter if anybody was laughing afterwards? What if there was no remorse by the noise maker? What if I said my friend deserved what he got? What if I said I was planning on shooting him anyway? Should the aforementioned change the punishment, if any?

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February 21, 2012, 06:22:10 PM
 #9

If you bring firearms into this, what if the little girl was packing and drew down in self-defense?  Tongue

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February 21, 2012, 06:29:44 PM
 #10

Improper handling of a firearm. You are guilty of involuntary manslaughter. If it is found out you intended to kill your friend and accidentally killed him before you had a chance to carry out your plans, you are guilty of murder.

So you like the idea of thought crimes? What if I wrote about killing somebody in a book and they forthwith died? Does that make me guilty of any crime? Does that make me an accomplice?

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February 21, 2012, 06:40:22 PM
 #11

Improper handling of a firearm. You are guilty of involuntary manslaughter. If it is found out you intended to kill your friend and accidentally killed him before you had a chance to carry out your plans, you are guilty of murder.

So you like the idea of thought crimes? What if I wrote about killing somebody in a book and they forthwith died? Does that make me guilty of any crime? Does that make me an accomplice?

Holliday is right on the big question.  There is a right way to demonstrate how a gun works and if you do it wrong, you are responsible for whoever gets hurt.  Call it the Cheney rule Tongue

Disagree on the murder thing though - its a simple crime and expanding the definition to include accidental killings would be pointless.

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February 21, 2012, 06:52:58 PM
 #12

I love this thread.


The little girl was a victim of an supposed accident of a reaction caused by the child, a reaction that if had led to the death of the little girl, the child and the parent would be held responsible for manslaughter most assuredly.

The measure of reaction should therefor be proportionate to the amount of harm caused to others, punishment fitting the crime and all that. With a nondebilitating wound, responsibilities would ideally include insuring the child's safety, apologizing to the appropriate parties (apology from child to little girl if parents not present, apology to both parents and little girl from both parent and child if present), and making a mental note to be more thoughtful in future pranks.

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February 21, 2012, 06:58:12 PM
 #13

Thought crimes? The guy is dead. You shot him. Your intent plus your actions matter.

If there is proof you intended to kill him and you did kill him, that's murder even if it didn't play out as you planned.

Edit: Do you really want to call it attempted murder and voluntary manslaughter? Do you think this is justice?

Well if all we cared about was the fact he was dead, and it was by my hand, then we should just dispense with all of the fancy wordplay and just call it murder. Thusly, we should then make everyone pay for the crime (death by another person) in exactly the same way (equivalent number of years served in prison, or capital punishment, restitution, pain etc.)

Otherwise, what would be the point of having murder 1, 2, 3, manslaughter, etc. All of those call to intent. To wit, at the time of my friends death, I had no intention of killing him. That intent preexisted his death no doubt, but it was a mere passing thought and not what I acted upon (supposition based upon testimony).

If we examine the intent at the time of my friends death (there was none), then you should apply the rules to match the circumstances. Anything else, and you could draw all sorts of inferences from all sorts of places and situations, and since I'm not perfect, could conclude that I must have just wanted him dead, hence a murderer.

Where do you draw the line?

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February 21, 2012, 07:06:11 PM
 #14

Where do you draw the line?

Proof of intent. If there is none, it was an accident. If there is proof, it was murder (even if it didn't play out as you planned).

And that's exactly what it comes down to to define something as an accident or not. Very elementary stuff. If someone intended on doing it, it wasn't an accident.

When the little girl fell, the child didn't intend on that happening, therefor it wasn't an accident. That doesn't mean it wasn't a direct result of what he did though, and if I were that child I would feel compelled (and embarrassed) to go over to the girl and make sure she was okay.

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February 21, 2012, 07:25:20 PM
 #15

Proof of intent. If there is none, it was an accident. If there is proof, it was murder (even if it didn't play out as you planned).

Edit: Also, you keep changing the scenario. At first it was "I planned on shooting him anyway", then it was "I wrote about killing somebody in a book", and finally, "at the time of my friends death, I had no intentions of killing him".

I didn't change the scenario, just the thought processes (some preexisting, some not) of the individuals involved (after the incident). They were just the same outcome with different thoughts and opinions. If you remember, the first circumstance was just the facts. It was a involuntary reflexive muscle action resulting in the death of a friend. You could call this an accident (it was described as such). It remains an accident regardless of how I felt towards my friend in the past or present. They are two completely unrelated events.

But the second you found out I had considered killing my friend in the past, but did not, now the punishment changes? That doesn't make sense. I can think about harming people and do nothing about it (we'll assume I'm mystery murder fiction author for the sake of this argument). But just because the person I'm thinking about dies accidentally despite my feelings in the past, doesn't make me the murderer now.

An accident is an accident is an accident. Murder is a different animal altogether. Death just describes the facts.

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February 21, 2012, 07:44:53 PM
 #16

Morality is not objectively definable. These arguments are so pointless. You guys are pretty much throwing opinions at each other.

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February 21, 2012, 08:04:51 PM
 #17

Morality is not objectively definable. These arguments are so pointless. You guys are pretty much throwing opinions at each other.

Humans call this communication. Absorb.

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February 21, 2012, 08:20:40 PM
 #18

Morality is not objectively definable. These arguments are so pointless. You guys are pretty much throwing opinions at each other.

Humans call this communication. Absorb.

Good man Smiley 

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February 21, 2012, 08:32:31 PM
 #19

Everyone is morally responsible for what they claim is the truth.  Because of the implied danger, the others can not be expected to each evaluate the situation immediately, but should believe that the one person is doing their moral duty.  

The boy who cried wolf was responsible.
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February 21, 2012, 08:52:59 PM
 #20

Everyone is morally responsible for what they claim is the truth.  Because of the implied danger, the others can not be expected to each evaluate the situation immediately, but should believe that the one person is doing their moral duty.  

The boy who cried wolf was responsible.

And so is that goddamn wolf, always running away right when the village comes running to see, such tomfoolery is downright reprehensible!

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