Hey there! Sign in to join this conversationNew here? Join for free
x Turn on thread page Beta

Clever Philosophy of Law Riddle watch

    • Thread Starter
    Offline

    0
    ReputationRep:
    There are 3 men in a desert. Mark, John and Paul (names aren't important). Mark and John do not know each other, but they both want to murder Paul. Paul does not know either of the men want to kill him.

    Mark attempts to kill Paul by poisoning his water canteen which would kill him almost instantaneously.

    John, unknown to what Mark had done, steals Paul's water canteen.

    A few days later, Paul dies of thirst.

    Who is charged for the murder?

    ----------------------

    Interesting point to remember is if the water canteen hadn't been taken, Paul would have died from poison.

    There is no right answer in my opinion.

    Please refrain from saying both are charged.
    Offline

    0
    ReputationRep:
    It depends on the legal tradition.

    My own personal opinion is that if murder (it depends again on legal tradition) is defined as an intent to kill, then it depends on whether John intended to kill Paul.

    I think it is too relative/ambiguous a riddle, since legality depends on legal tradition, the values of a society, etc.
    Offline

    0
    ReputationRep:
    From a readers perspective, it would be Mark and John (John because he killed Paul and Mark because he killed John). It depends on how much knowledge you have on the situtation.

    -------------------------------------------------------------------

    Nobody would be charged from a court's perspective because they're both dead and there's no witnesses.
    Offline

    13
    ReputationRep:
    Factually speaking, John stole the water, leading to his starvation (and preventing his death from poisoning). His action directly led to the dehydration which killed Paul, discounting the element of the poison, which may have killed Paul - we do not know.

    Mark's action may have been a positive attempt at killing Paul, but the resulting death was primarily a consequence of John's intervention. So John is guilty.
    Offline

    0
    ReputationRep:
    Surely John is charged for stealing the water canteen because he had the intention AND committed the act that resulted in the death. Maybe Mark is charged with attempted murder too?
    Offline

    0
    ReputationRep:
    There is no causation between Marks act and Paul's death. There is only causation between John's act and Paul's death. Therefore John is the only one who can be charged with murder.

    If I fire a gun at someone's head and miss, I cannot be charged with murder even if they die from some unrelated reason. That's a coincidence. The most I could be charged with is attempted murder. My act did not cause the death.
    Offline

    15
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by tobeconfirmed)
    There is no causation between Marks act and Paul's death. There is only causation between John's act and Paul's death. Therefore John is the only one who can be charged with murder.

    If I fire a gun at someone's head and miss, I cannot be charged with murder even if they die from some unrelated reason. That's a coincidence. The most I could be charged with is attempted murder. My act did not cause the death.
    This. Is this the answer? I don't get why the riddle is clever if it is..
    Offline

    18
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by EthanWM)
    There are 3 men in a desert. Mark, John and Paul (names aren't important). Mark and John do not know each other, but they both want to murder Paul. Paul does not know either of the men want to kill him.

    Mark attempts to kill Paul by poisoning his water canteen which would kill him almost instantaneously.

    John, unknown to what Mark had done, steals Paul's water canteen.

    A few days later, Paul dies of thirst.

    Who is charged for the murder?

    ----------------------

    Interesting point to remember is if the water canteen hadn't been taken, Paul would have died from poison.

    There is no right answer in my opinion.

    Please refrain from saying both are charged.
    Erm.... what murder? Stealing a water canteen is not murder. We'd have to know more about the scale of this desert and their location within it to even know that it could potentially be regarded as manslaughter, for knowing that the person that you stole from could not in any possible way get nourishment to live.

    But, as it turns out that this water would have been harmful anyway (let's be clear- any amount of true poison is BAD), there'd be no point pressing for even a manslaughter charge against John. (assuming that he is still alive which is my next point...)

    If anyone's murdered it's John (although you don't say that he drinks the water). If John ends up dead then Mark should be charged - and he could be charged with murder (just like someone indiscriminately firing bullets in the street can be charged with murder even though they might not have had that particular target in mind).
    Offline

    16
    ReputationRep:
    John, with malice aforethought, steals the water.

    Because John does not know that he has saved Paul from being killed by Mark's poison, he is still liable for murder.
    Offline

    21
    ReputationRep:
    Assuming this is tried in an English court:

    Mark is guilty of the attempted murder of Paul. He has done an act not merely preparatory with an intent to kill. If John drinks the stolen water and dies, Mark is guilty of John's murder under the doctrine of transferred malice.

    John is guilty of theft. The theft is an unlawful act. If in the circumstances John's theft is likely to cause harm, not necessarily death, to Mark, then John is guilty of manslaughter.

    This is trite law, even for a non-criminal lawyer such as myself.
    Offline

    0
    (Original post by Clip)
    Because John does not know that he has saved Paul from being killed by Mark's poison, he is still liable for murder.
    What if John did know, and decides to save Paul from the poison (knowing that he'd eventually die of thirst anyway) just to confuse the heck out of anyone who might try to analyze their situation?

    [i.e. I'm modifying the original question slightly: what if John, instead of not knowing about the poison, had in fact been in the know? Then would he be liable for the "murder", considering that his murderous theft involved intentionally saving Paul?]
    Offline

    13
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by Saichu)
    What if John did know, and decides to save Paul from the poison (knowing that he'd eventually die of thirst anyway) just to confuse the heck out of anyone who might try to analyze their situation?

    [i.e. I'm modifying the original question slightly: what if John, instead of not knowing about the poison, had in fact been in the know? Then would he be liable for the "murder", considering that his murderous act involved intentionally saving Paul?]
    Then he would be guilty of murder.
    Offline

    0
    (Original post by D.R.E)
    Factually speaking, John stole the water, leading to his starvation (and preventing his death from poisoning). His action directly led to the dehydration which killed Paul, discounting the element of the poison, which may have killed Paul - we do not know.

    Mark's action may have been a positive attempt at killing Paul, but the resulting death was primarily a consequence of John's intervention. So John is guilty.
    This reasoning seems counterintuitive when one considers the alternative scenario that John did not want to kill Paul, and only stole his water because he knew that it'd been poisoned (perhaps he had good reason to believe Paul would not trust his claim).

    Then, your reasoning would apply equally well to demonstrate John's guilt in the murder of Paul - despite that he was only trying to save him!
    Offline

    13
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by Saichu)
    This reasoning seems counterintuitive when one considers the alternative scenario that John did not want to kill Paul, and only stole his water because he knew that it'd been poisoned (perhaps he had good reason to believe Paul would not trust his claim).

    Then, your reasoning would apply equally well to demonstrate John's guilt in the murder of Paul - despite that he was only trying to save him!
    'Murder', in English law, is just a word for describing an 'unlawful killing'; and an unlawful killing only comes about when there is sufficient amount of intention. That is, intention to carry out the killing.

    So if John took the water without intending on killing Paul, there is no murder. If he took it with the intention to kill, there is a murder. Whether or not John caused the death of Paul, therefore killing him, is immaterial. We've already established the facts of the scenario, all that creates murder is intention.
    Offline

    15
    ReputationRep:
    Lol we’re all overcomplicating what is rather simple law, both as it stands in a national court of any country (this is hardly a dilemma anywhere) and as a normative notion of what the law should be.

    As would be the convictions in an English court for these acts done in England:

    Mark – attempted murder – mandatory life sentence, which is identical to that of murder. So who cares that it is just ‘attempted’ as he’s going down for just as long.

    Why did John steal Paul’s water? If with intent that he dies of thirst (as can be presumed) and he in fact does so, he will be liable for murder proper, and also receive the mandatory life sentence.


    I think English law here has got it spot on: John committed murder (ignore poison for now) and so goes down for life. Mark is just as culpable / blameworthy as he genuinely tried to kill Paul, just things didn’t go quite to plan. He cannot be a murderer as he did not in fact kill anyone, but his conviction for attempted murder is just as punitive as the punishment is identical.

    (Original post by Picnic1)
    Erm.... what murder? Stealing a water canteen is not murder. We'd have to know more about the scale of this desert and their location within it to even know that it could potentially be regarded as manslaughter, for knowing that the person that you stole from could not in any possible way get nourishment to live.

    But, as it turns out that this water would have been harmful anyway (let's be clear- any amount of true poison is BAD), there'd be no point pressing for even a manslaughter charge against John. (assuming that he is still alive which is my next point...)
    There is actually no specified conduct requirement for murder – so it can be committed by any lawful / unlawful act, as long as death results. So stealing somebody’s water with the intention that he dies of thirst and if he in fact does so, it is murder.

    (Original post by Saichu)
    What if John did know, and decides to save Paul from the poison (knowing that he'd eventually die of thirst anyway) just to confuse the heck out of anyone who might try to analyze their situation?

    [i.e. I'm modifying the original question slightly: what if John, instead of not knowing about the poison, had in fact been in the know? Then would he be liable for the "murder", considering that his murderous theft involved intentionally saving Paul?]
    Tricky questions turn on John’s intention here. There is no such thing as ‘knowledge of the future’ so we need to ask what was John’s belief / intention when taking Paul’s water away. If he did it so Paul could live longer, believing nonetheless that he’d soon die of thirst anyway, he is liable for no offence as he actually saved somebody from dying sooner. If he stole the water willing Paul to die (perhaps a slower death?) then it is murder – which makes this such an incredibly thin line between no offence and one of the most serious!
    Offline

    0
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by EthanWM)
    There are 3 men in a desert. Mark, John and Paul (names aren't important). Mark and John do not know each other, but they both want to murder Paul. Paul does not know either of the men want to kill him.

    Mark attempts to kill Paul by poisoning his water canteen which would kill him almost instantaneously.

    John, unknown to what Mark had done, steals Paul's water canteen.

    A few days later, Paul dies of thirst.

    Who is charged for the murder?

    ----------------------

    Interesting point to remember is if the water canteen hadn't been taken, Paul would have died from poison.

    There is no right answer in my opinion.

    Please refrain from saying both are charged.
    Mark:
    Did he commit the guilty Act of murdering (causing the death of) Paul?
    But for Mark's actions, John would still have stolen Paul's canteen so Paul would still have died. Therefore Mark is not a factual cause of Paul's death. So Mark is not guilty of murder.
    Did he have the guilty mind for murder? Yes, as he intended to kill Paul. He also committed the guilty act of attempted murder by taking "more than merely preparatory" steps in killing Paul.
    So Mark is guilty of attempted murder.

    John:
    Did he commit the guilty act of murder?
    But for John's actions, Paul would still have died through poisoning.
    Therefore John is not a factual cause of Paul's death and cannot be found guilty of murder.
    Did he have the guilty mind for murder?
    No, John did not have intention to kill Paul, so cannot be guilty of attempted murder.
    John is guilty of theft.
    This offence could amount to Unlawful Dangerous Act Manslaughter, depending if theft in the middle of a desert is considered dangerous by a jury.

    Nobody is convicted of murder. Although morally, I think robbing someone's water canteen in a desert deserves more than a conviction for theft.
    Offline

    0
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by D.R.E)
    So if John took the water without intending on killing Paul, there is no murder. If he took it with the intention to kill, there is a murder. Whether or not John caused the death of Paul, therefore killing him, is immaterial. We've already established the facts of the scenario, all that creates murder is intention.
    The causation is not immaterial - it makes the difference between murder & attempted murder.
    Like the case of White - A man poisons his mother's drink intending to kill her. She dies of a heart attack before drinking it. He is convicted of an attempt as he did not factually cause her death - she would have died anyway.

    A lot of it is at the jury's discretion so he might be convicted anyway, it depends whether or not they like the look of him.
    Offline

    1
    ReputationRep:
    They are in a desert, there is three of them. Mark is the only one that comes out alive. Surely, once he is found and tells authorities, he would be able to make up some story, saying one poisoned the other and it was never his fault. This a bit of loose riddle.

    Actually that was a lazy answer, ignore.
    Offline

    15
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by Tfaska)
    [COLOR="purple"]John:[/COLOR]
    Did he commit the guilty act of murder?
    But for John's actions, Paul would still have died through poisoning.
    Therefore John is not a factual cause of Paul's death and cannot be found guilty of murder.
    Did he have the guilty mind for murder?
    No, John did not have intention to kill Paul, so cannot be guilty of attempted murder.
    [COLOR="DarkRed"]John is guilty of theft.[/COLOR]
    This offence could amount to Unlawful Dangerous Act Manslaughter, depending if theft in the middle of a desert is considered dangerous by a jury.

    Nobody is convicted of murder. Although morally, I think robbing someone's water canteen in a desert deserves more than a conviction for theft.
    See my post just above yours.

    Do you not think he would be liable for murder?

    I'm thinking of the situations where there are multiple concurrent causes of death - say 2 defendants shoot the victim in the heart simultaneously - 'but for' each of his actions, the victim would still have died. Yet there is no difficulty here in securing a conviction for both gunmen. Same principle applies, or not?
    Offline

    0
    ReputationRep:
    I don't see the "riddle" here. As has been said, in English law the situation is pretty clear cut. Nobody can really be charged with murder.

    If it's a matter of should, or another normative case, I guess it can be relative.
 
 
 
Poll
Do you agree with the proposed ban on plastic straws and cotton buds?
Useful resources

The Student Room, Get Revising and Marked by Teachers are trading names of The Student Room Group Ltd.

Register Number: 04666380 (England and Wales), VAT No. 806 8067 22 Registered Office: International House, Queens Road, Brighton, BN1 3XE

Write a reply...
Reply
Hide
Reputation gems: You get these gems as you gain rep from other members for making good contributions and giving helpful advice.