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November 30, 20051 response
Peter S. Fosl
November 19, 20051 response
On the former question, how much I pay for car insurance is a function of how much accident claims cost insurance companies. People who do not wear seatbelts cause themselves greater injuiries, which lead to higher insurance claims, which lead to higher rates for me. So it's far from clear that one who doesn't wear a seatbeltharms only h'erself (even waiving the harm s'he might be doing to family and friends). The same is true in the latter case: It's not entirely obvious that people who abuse cocaine, say, harm only themselves. More needs to be said, obviously.
November 18, 20051 response
Joseph G. Moore
October 27, 20051 response
There is at least one good consequentialist reason for punishing
attempted murder less severely than murder. If the two crimes are
punished equally, then the law will not deter someone who has tried and
failed to murder from trying again!
To the extent that the
"successful murderer" is simply luckier than the "failed murderer,"
your question raises the vexing problem of moral luck. Consider the following two cases:
1. John drives after drinking way too much at lunch and is pulled over almost immediately and arrested.
Jack drives after drinking way too much at lunch and almost immediately
runs over and kills a family of four crossing the street.
seems that there is no morally relevant difference between these two
cases. That is, the only difference between them seems to be that John
was lucky enough to have been pulled over before he could cause any
serious harm. Yet (at least in our current criminal justice system), we
punish Jack much more severely than we do John. John is charged with
driving under the influence, but Jack is guilty of vehicular
manslaughter. Should John receive more lenient treatment merely because
he was lucky?
Two of the best-known essays on moral luck are by Bernard Williams and Thomas Nagel. You can find them here and here, respectively. There's also a nice (and free) overview in the online Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
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