Well, I take a freudian look at ethics/morality (that is, you will see parallels to Freud’s little trinity, not that Frued and I feel the same way about this). Morality is what motivates our behavior as a start, and ethics are how we choose to interact with the rest of society. Ethics might just be a mask we put over our own morality, or they might merely add to it. Anyway, my own personal convention, YMMV, etc (just so when I use those words in response to you we are clear here).
So with respect to the blood donation, as a moral agent I don’t think you were out of line to donate the blood; after all, their safeguards are in place to prevent receiving contaminated blood, and you know your blood wasn’t contaminated. Ethically, however, you would be more or less bound to respect their wishes, so it would be a bad move to lie to them in that case. IMO, though, morality should override ethics most of the time, though I would never blame anyone for doing the opposite.
As far as the rock goes, this is just my point. If the man driving assumes the possibility of injuring someone else when driving, why doesn’t the pedestrian assume a risk of injury when near a road? Why can we not say that the pedestrian was at fault and not the man? It seems that the justification for holding the man morally responsible could be turned around on the child (or the agent responsible for the child: its parent(s)) just as easily.
And the rock I find interesting because it seems to remove the action by a step, though in both cases (with or without the rock) the man had the same amount of control over the vehicle (looked away fro the road for just a moment and hit a child, or looked away from the road for just a moment and hit a rock which hit a child).
The rock is particularly interesting because I recently had the displeasure of hearing the following tale when I was visiting a customer’s site in Jew Jersey. Seems that a woman and her friend were waiting at a bus stop next to the road. You know, the kind that just have a sign, no little shelter thing was there. And, well, a truck (semi) came by, and right when it was passing these two one of its tires went. The rubber-steel “shrapnel” made mincemeat of one woman, killing her—if not on the spot—before she could make it to the hospital.
Can we also say that we can hold the truck driver responsible as a moral agent? Is that not a risk he assumes when driving? Can we not hold the woman responsible as a moral agent (for her own demise)? Is that not a risk she assumes when standing by the side of the road?
I have a hard time dealing with situations like this where normal behavior without intention leads to injury or death. I personally feel that no one person can be held responsible; that tragedies like this should be covered by society itself. A moral burden based on accidents spread out across all of society isn’t really a moral burden at all.
So, no, I don’t think the man had any obligation to do anything, in closing (for this post).
A return to Jodi
First, hierarchy. I am using it in the sense of the fifth definition, “A graded or ranked series.”
Ok, secondly: “IMO, as a moral matter, it is worse to try to kill someone (no consequences) that it is to suceed in hitting them. (Because IMO it is morally “worse” to kill than to hit.)” Well, no problem with this statement (though I wonder if I agree with it or not), but the issue on the floor is that we have an action devoid of content yet to which most people would still assign a moral value to; i.e.— the man is responsible for the action, and he did a bad thing. This is where I got the reply in the form of likelihood, which to me immediately implies probability and statistics (probability in the abstract sense, statistics after accident data has been revealed to an agent in question; i.e.—you have, according to national averages, a .02% chance of accidentally killing a person today, and by stepping into this car you are accepting those odds and admitting that you are morally responsible for any deaths that are caused by this vehicle [and of course I just made that percentage up]). I am wondering about pragmatism because we are not obviously (that is, it isn’t obvious that we are, if we are, which I don’t know yet) punishing a man (or holding him morally responsible) for intent. In your “better to swing and hit than murder and miss” view, intent is a foregone conclusion so matching the behavior up on a “moral chart” is trivial. That ain’t the issue here, though. Can we punish a man for something he didn’t intend to do? If we feel the correct place for determining morality is on intent, then this man has no moral obligation to anyone he harms on accident, right?
“I am sure the guy would still be punished, from guilt, or social ostracisation, or glares from the parents.” I don’t doubt it. But do you feel he is morally responsible or actually bad? (that is, is he bad, has he created a moral obligation, or both, or neither?)
“When you go for a drive, you accept that you may smash into another car and kill everyone. It comes with the responsibility of driving a car.” Doesn’t the possibility of death come with walking out onto a street, or being by one? Why can’t the pedestrian be responsible for his own death?
Also, see the reply to Jodi.
Lib, I’ll have to sit on your response a little more…