If someone is drowning and you refuse to help, are you responsible for his death?

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    well objectively no.
    because that person's circumstances surrounding their drowning had nothing to do with you, so you cannot possibly be the agent simply by watching it happen. it's the same with watching somebody falling down a cliff - just because you have the means to save them, you have no responsibility to do so, because that would be putting yourself in danger instead of them, and you as another individual are by no means a servant to another. you could also compare it to watching homeless people starve - you can't be expected to save each and every homeless person, as that would cost too much and require too much of your knowledge; in the case of drowning individuals, there are obviously hundreds of people theoretically and statistically drowning this very second - do I necessary have the means to save them all? I mean, if they're all equal, either I do have an obligation or I don't. and clearly I don't, because to save them all, as equal individuals, is impossible. if we're saying that knowledge causes an obligation as you have the knowldge of their imminent death, still, you aren't responsible because you didn't cause them to drown in the first place - if you *had* done, then you are logically accountable because you are the cause that necessitated the effect. it's the same thing here.

    it would be an ethical deed to save them, but there is literally nothing that can logically equate a person in such a situation as being responsible or objectively obliged to save them
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    Of course not.
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    (Original post by shadowdweller)
    I recently watched an episode of a show where one of the characters is dying in a similar situation, and the person with them refuses to help, despite it being well within their capacity.
    Which show/episode?

    After watching it, I ended up in a bit of a debate as to whether the friend was responsible for their death... if they could have prevented it, surely that means they're at least partially the cause?
    I disagree. The lack of the antidote is not the cause of the venom.

    But morally I would say the person is culpable. The degree of culpability depends on how costly it would be to render aid.

    I know it's been mentioned already but here is a link about where there is bystander duty of care: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Duty_to_rescue
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    Depends.. If u just need to extend your arm, then whilst technically not responsible, morally you obviously are given the ease in which you could have prevented the death

    If its more real world and you stumble upon someone is drowning in a freezing lake, then not responsible in any way
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    (Original post by Plagioclase)
    I don't understand why you're dismissing this, the two situations are completely different as a consequence.
    Don't be too hasty to dismiss yourself. They're not that different. In fact, Peter Singer uses this as a thought experiment in his book and talks The Life You Can Save: https://www.ted.com/talks/peter_sing...sm?language=en

    There's a pretty major difference between literally dedicating your entire life towards
    You don't have to "dedicate your entire life". £3 is enough to vaccinate a child against measles, polio, tetanus, TB, diphtheria and whooping cough.

    An insecticide treated bed net costs less than £10. Etc.

    The only real difference is physical proximity. Is that morally relevant?
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    (Original post by chazwomaq)
    Don't be too hasty to dismiss yourself. They're not that different. In fact, Peter Singer uses this as a thought experiment in his book and talks The Life You Can Save: https://www.ted.com/talks/peter_sing...sm?language=en



    You don't have to "dedicate your entire life". £3 is enough to vaccinate a child against measles, polio, tetanus, TB, diphtheria and whooping cough.

    An insecticide treated bed net costs less than £10. Etc.

    The only real difference is physical proximity. Is that morally relevant?
    1. Yes, I do not think that physical proximity is entirely irrelevant because we are human beings, organisms that naturally relate more to things that we can directly see and touch, and it's important not to forget that. Morality is human too.
    2. Donating money to a charity is not a direct Donate -> Life Saved relationship whereas the scenario described above is, which is also relevant for the same reasons as the above point.
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    So we can both drown and die together?

    its a different matter if i could swim and support myself in water but I haven't swam in years and can't even swim in the first place. No good if we both die. then again, i'd want someone to help me in that situation too.

    I think no you're not responsible since it's not like you pushed the person in the water. If someone cannot swim what sense does it make to be held responsible? That'd be another unnecessary death.
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    (Original post by Plagioclase)
    1. Yes, I do not think that physical proximity is entirely irrelevant because we are human beings, organisms that naturally relate more to things that we can directly see and touch, and it's important not to forget that. Morality is human too.
    I appreciate that it feels different, but I don't quite see the moral relevance of proximity.

    2. Donating money to a charity is not a direct Donate -> Life Saved relationship whereas the scenario described above is, which is also relevant for the same reasons as the above point.
    Why does "directness" matter? Is it that a statistical relationship is different? What if the scenario were that by diving into the water you had a 90% to save the person in trouble?*
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    Speaking as somebody who personally would prefer to save somebody than not (although in that particular scenario I'd likely pussy out unless it was somebody I'm particularly emotionally invested in, I'm not exactly known for my swimming prowess), you're not responsible for their death should you not help. Having the ability to save somebody from death doesn't mean I'm then responsible when they do. The implication would be every single person who isn't an organ donor is to be held responsible for deaths.

    (Original post by 0to100)
    It is manslaughter.

    Accidental death is manslaughter...
    if I were a lawyer I'd definitely try to pin someone for it in this case. And win.
    No you wouldn't because it isn't manslaughter in law.
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    No, I am not responsible for his death because I am not the one who caused it.

    However, depending on how easy or convenient it is for me to go and save him, just standing by and happily or indifferently watching him drown could be considered a bit of a lame thing to do.
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    I contributed none of my energy to the act so I'm physically and technically not responsible, although morally I'm responsible and gulity for their death
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    responsibility is a very unhelpful concept when it comes to ethics imo

    the world would probably have been a better place if you saved them, so it was bad that you didnt. who needs responsibility?

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