Is the choice to do nothing a culpable action?

Discussion in 'Politics & Law' started by PretzelCorps, Dec 11, 2009.

  1. PretzelCorps

    PretzelCorps Registered Member

    Naturally, this stems rather obviously from another thread. In this thread, it appears the argument is made that "doing nothing" frees you from any culpability in a moral matter. What I want to know is, do you agree with this?

    If some sort of negative event is occurring, and you have have the ability or some small opportunity to prevent it, are you in any way morally obligated to do so? Even more so, if you choose to do nothing and the aforesaid negative event comes to pass, are you in any way responsible for that event's outcome?

  2. Tucker

    Tucker Lion Rampant

    I know not; am I my brother's keeper?
  3. Chaos

    Chaos Epic Gamer V.I.P. Lifetime

    In short, yes. Doing nothing is still a choice, and is as such unequivocally a culpable act with repercussions just like any other decision.

    Choosing nothing is still a choice.
  4. EllyDicious

    EllyDicious made of AMBIGUITY V.I.P. Lifetime

    of course, doing nothing is culpable if you have even the smallest opportunity to avoid that situation.
    Yes, you are responsible for everything that happens after you have done nothing or haven't' reacted.
    Doing nothing means also doing something. in the meaning that you reacted with indifference and this may make you culpable when you have the chance to react literally.
    here in Albania, the penal acts are divided into Reaction and Non-reaction and for both these actions you have the same responsibility in proportion to the risk you caused.
    Last edited: Dec 11, 2009
  5. Smelnick

    Smelnick Creeping On You V.I.P.

    I know in the bible, it talks about sins of omission. Where its possible to sin by not doing something when you could have and should have. But even outside of the bible, and in general morality, doing nothing when you could have done something is still something that should be looked down upon. I mean, obviously, if you see someone getting robbed at gunpoint, and you don't run and tackle the guy, no one is going to blame you. That'd be a stupid move. But instead of standing and gawking, call 911. Do everything in your power to help. If you don't have a phone, and can no way help the situation, the I suppose you're off the hook, but that rarely happens.

    So yah, doing nothing is totally a culpable action in my opinion.
  6. ExpectantlyIronic

    ExpectantlyIronic e̳̳̺͕ͬ̓̑̂ͮͦͣ͒͒h̙ͦ̔͂?̅̂ ̾͗̑

    I've been looking for an excuse to bring up the classic trolley problem:

    "A trolley is running out of control down a track. In its path are 5 people who have been tied to the track by the mad philosopher. Fortunately, you can flip a switch, which will lead the trolley down a different track to safety. Unfortunately, there is a single person tied to that track. Should you flip the switch?"

    I'm a switch-flipper. It would seem strange to me to say that the perfect saint is the man who does nothing at all, and our acts of intervention that aid others are not good. Of course, by not doing good, you are not necessarily doing wrong, but if we can say that actions can indeed be good, and furthermore that we should do good, it just follows that we should take certain actions. It then follows that when given an opportunity take said actions, we should not choose inaction. That's to say nothing really about whether we should flip the switch in the trolley problem, but it seems to me a rock-solid case for our considering inaction less good in some cases than action.
  7. Merc

    Merc Certified Shitlord V.I.P. Lifetime

    Nope and my first example is the gang rape story a month or so ago where as many as thirty people watched a girl get brutally beaten and raped repeatedly by several men. If you witness something so horrible, you should do something, even if it is running away and calling the cops. If you witness something, then yeah it sucks to be you, but you have an obligation to your fellow man and woman to help them. If you don't like that responsibility, you should move onto the nearest glacier or some other place where unhelpful and socially retarded individuals should be.
    Jeanie likes this.
  8. CaptainObvious

    CaptainObvious Son of Liberty V.I.P.

    I agree with EI, I'm a flip-switcher also. I find it strange that someone would do absolutely nothing and say he made the only GOOD choice. I find the person who does nothing more culpable than the one who flips the switch.
  9. FutureTrackStar

    FutureTrackStar Registered Member

    - This is a TERRIBLE analogy to my moral question, for multiple reasons:

    1. Your example has a trolley as the "murderer". The trolley is not a human. The trolley can not sin. The trolley is just a machine that obeys the laws of physics. But, most especially, the trolley cannot make a choice about which track it follows.

    2. There is no possibility for a third track (with nobody tied to it).

    3. You cannot love the trolley. The trolley can make no mistakes, and is not responsible for its actions. Therefore, if I am the only one with the opportunity to save lives and I don't take that opportunity, I would be partially responsible for the death of 4 lives (clearly the mad philosopher is mostly responsible).

    In my scenario:

    1. The murderer is a human, and can obviously sin. However, The murderer has the ability to make the Right choice.

    2. As a consequence of (1) there is a possibility for the "third track"

    3. You can love the murderer. You can express your love for him by telling him that you would not want him to commit murder for his sake. The murderer is responsible for his actions

    So, analogy fail.

    For the record, I too would be a flip switcher. Not only would I flip the switch, I would do everything in my power to stop the trolley.
    And I also like how you made your scenario so that you have direct control over the trolley, i.e. you included a freakin' SWITCH.

    Since when do we have switches that control other human beings?
    Last edited: Dec 11, 2009
  10. Merc

    Merc Certified Shitlord V.I.P. Lifetime

    Want me to start listing examples?

    Maybe I'm just thinking too deeply here but is it possible that the switch controls, I don't know, the fucking trolley? :stare:

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