5054.

A hypothetical:

You are in an urban setting– tall buildings, busy streets, loud noises. A person pulls out a gun and starts shooting at you. In order to dodge the bullets, you run out into the street and are promptly hit by a bus. Hopefully you’re going to be okay, but that’s not relevant to the coming line of questioning.

Is it your fault that you were hit by the bus?

Is it the shooter’s fault that you were hit by the bus?

Is it the bus driver’s fault that you were hit by the bus?

Is it anybody’s fault that you were hit by the bus?

Do these answers change if the shooter was shooting wildly and was not targeting you in particular?

Does the fact that occasionally pedestrians are hit by buses (even if nobody’s shooting at anyone) absolve anybody of blame in the above scenario?

5 comments

  1. There was an incident recently in Ohio where a police officer was involved in a high-speed pursuit. Said officer hit a car in an intersection and killed a passenger. The criminal was charged with manslaughter, not the officer. I doubt they got a conviction, but the D.A. apparently thought it was a valid charge.

    I don’t like this, and will use the slippery slope argument: If I don’t wear my seat belt and the officer runs over someone while in the process of pulling me over, am I now liable for that accidental death?

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    1. Perhaps it depends on the severity of the violation. If the officer kills someone while pulling you over for a seat belt violation, that’s on the officer. If the officer kills someone while, say, trying to stop General Zod and neutralize the World Engine, then I think the perp is liable.

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  2. If you want to REALLY be abstract:

    “Causal determinism is the view that everything that happens or exists is caused by sufficient antecedent conditions, making it impossible for anything to happen or be other than it does or is. One variety of causal determinism, scientific determinism, identifies the relevant antecedent conditions as a combination of prior states of the universe and the laws of nature. Another, theological determinism, identifies those conditions as being the nature and will of God.”

    So by the same logic, the shooter (if we go by Titor’s assumption), may have been shooting because someone else forced him to do it (kidnapped his wife/husband/children). But that person forced him to do it because they had a genetic mental illness (or the shooter could have this condition instead, without another agent forcing his will on him). Thereby making it the fault of his parents, or natural selection, or God, or whatever.

    If it’s your fault for running out in front of the bus, maybe you were raised in England where the buses were on the other side of the road and it was your first day in a place where it was reversed. Determinism says it would have happened anyway, because of all of the pre-existing circumstances placed there (your parents, your culture, your social infrastructure, etc).

    You make the decisions you make based on rational choices that have developed based on a multitude of experiences none of which you’ve TRULY and freely volunteered for. (You’re raised with values of extraversion ; therefore you accept invitations to go out with friends ; therefore you’re exposed to particular ideas or pressures ; blah blah blah blah blah). So if this is the case, then no one is really responsible for any thing because there’s no way they would have actually made a different choice in an identical universe where all the factors are exactly the same. The choice would still lead to the same result every single time, regardless of how many identical universes you tested.

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