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Morality of Murder

Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
I don't know how many of you on here have been watching the Justice season on BBC Four. I have been enjoying it, but I generally do like philosophy and in particular legal philosophy.

As part of the season they broadcast a programme which was a lecture by Michael Sandelof Harvard University looking at whether Murder could evere be morally justified. It got me thinking and I would be interested to know other people's opinions.

Personally I find murder an abhorrent and generally unjustifiable act. However, I can see certain circumstances where it could be morally justified. For example, killing one person (or indeed a small number of people) in order to save the lives of many more innocent people could be morally justifiable. Let me ground that in some context. If a situation like 9/11 was ever to transpire again it could be morally justifiable, in my opinion, to shoot down the jet (killing hundreds of innocent lives) in order to save many more innocent lives of those in the building the plane is going to fly into. Of course the circumstances surrounding the decision to kill one or more people play a huge part in whether it could ever be considered morally justified. However, having said all of that the taking of innocent lives, regardless of the circumstances, doesn't sit all that well with me. It is certainly isn't an easy situation.

If you haven't seen the programme it is available on BBC iPlayer and more information on the justice season can be found here

Comments

  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Haven't seen it; do think 'murder' can be justified- either that or the definition of murder should be changed.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Avizandum wrote: »
    If a situation like 9/11 was ever to transpire again it could be morally justifiable, in my opinion, to shoot down the jet (killing hundreds of innocent lives) in order to save many more innocent lives of those in the building the plane is going to fly into.

    And that demonstrates the problem here. There is absolutely no way you could know whether what you're doing would result in more lives saved. You could crash a jet into the vast majority of buildings, and fail to kill more people than are on the jet. The WTC was a unique case, where the impact caused a complete collapse, which nobody would've predicted beforehand.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    It depends on your definition of murder, really, and how strictly you want to apply it.

    The person who panicked on the ladder following the Herald of Free Enterprise capsizing was rightly thrown to his death; had they not thrown him off the ladder, everyone behind him would have drowned too.

    But the killing of de Menezes, based on a small risk, was morally bankrupt.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    It sounds like this is more about the morality of killing, rather than murder per se
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    And that demonstrates the problem here. There is absolutely no way you could know whether what you're doing would result in more lives saved. You could crash a jet into the vast majority of buildings, and fail to kill more people than are on the jet. The WTC was a unique case, where the impact caused a complete collapse, which nobody would've predicted beforehand.

    But in many cases you have to make a judgement, often in split seconds, and with no certainty on the outcome. Whilst the numbers in WTC were extreme the decisions weren't - they have been made dozens of times by soldiers and police when confronted by people who were potentially armed. By your logic we shouldn't do anything, because you don't have 100% knowledge, whilst I would argue you have to act on the balance of possibilities.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    MoK wrote: »
    It sounds like this is more about the morality of killing, rather than murder per se

    :yes: It seems to me to be so, murder is illegal killing and if something is justified (under self defence of yourself or others) it's legal.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    I could murder a bacon sarnie right about now.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    I think muder is a good option in many cases, for example queue jumping or littering.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    I think muder is a good option in many cases, for example queue jumping or littering.

    :eek:
    It depends on your definition of murder, really, and how strictly you want to apply it.

    :yes: What actually is the UK definition? And how is it different from say, manslaughter?
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    I'm sure those more familiar with the UK legal system can corroborate or correct this, but I believe the difference is mainly to do with premeditation.

    For instance, someone killing someone else in a bar fight would normally be done for manslaughter, while someone proven to have been planning to kill the wife to inherit her estate would be done for murder.

    There's a lot of positioning and posturing as far as the defence and prosecution are concerned of course. During the recent student protests in Millbank, a police spokesman said the person who threw a fire extinguisher from the roof would be prosecuted for attempted murder. At the end he was convicted on far less serious charges, though still attracting a custodial sentence.

    Regarding morality, murder is never justified. Killing a person can, IMO, be if it is deemed to have directly saved the lives of others (for instance a gunman holding hostages who's started to kill them and is about to kill more), but then again that shouldn't be regarded as 'murder'.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    But in many cases you have to make a judgement, often in split seconds, and with no certainty on the outcome. Whilst the numbers in WTC were extreme the decisions weren't - they have been made dozens of times by soldiers and police when confronted by people who were potentially armed. By your logic we shouldn't do anything, because you don't have 100% knowledge, whilst I would argue you have to act on the balance of possibilities.

    Well yeah, I was merely pointing out that that's a particularly bad example (or good example of what can go wrong).
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    I'm sure every killer one way or another manages to justify to themselves what they are doing is right and justified. Whether the masses agree or not is a seperate issue entirely, and ofcourse the law will never agree. What is justifiable to one person is morally grey or unjustifiable to another person.

    Melian, intent is the difference between murder and manslaughter.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    I think muder is a good option in many cases, for example queue jumping or littering.
    (sic)

    I'm down with you on that. Man, if someone causes me to have to take public transport I think I should be allowed to kill them. When there are other people on that public transport I should be allowed to kill them so that I don't have to associate with their sort.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    katralla wrote: »
    Man, if someone causes me to have to take public transport I think I should be allowed to kill them. When there are other people on that public transport I should be allowed to kill them so that I don't have to associate with their sort.

    If public transport is in your list of alternative transport methods, I should be allowed to kill you. :D
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