Interesting thought here. Where does it make sense to attribute immorality?
[ul][li]If we say, “As a consequence of actions,” then only the man who actually ran over the child is immoral. Perhaps this feels right at first glance, but what about when the case is not so clear? For instance, what about unintended consequences? Is a mother immoral who, in her sleep, rolls over onto her child? Or what about something vastly more reaching: is Jesus immoral because he led people to have the conviction to kill (surely it cannot be denied that people have killed in the name of Jesus)? Do we really want to say that people should be held as [morally] responsible for unintended consequences as they would be for intended ones? I should think not. So then, “Immorality is a consequence of actions” is not quite right.[/li][li]If we say, “As a consequence of their intent,” then the man who ran over the child isn’t immoral at all. But is this case—is this how we feel? For though he didn’t set out to kill children, was he not negligent in his behavior? Is he not morally culpable to some degree? Or is he instead morally obligated to take some responsibility for caring for the child? (is there really a difference?) Or are we instead simply rationalizing our response so that the man is still culpable? [/ul][/li]In the first choice we are set on a measure of determinism: to what extent can a person be said to have caused an event? No small issue, as this strange scenario (though, shall we say, probably not entirely unheard of) hopefully demonstrates. For instance, consider this quick little back and forth dialogue (that I just made up):
Anyone care to tell me why either of these people are wrong? And what we could say to them to shine the light? Person B seems to imply that the person really has no moral culpability, and from that (probably) no moral responsibility afterwards, while Person A is willing to accept any justification he can find, because it seems he just knows this guy is at fault. What do you say? What can we say?