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Good Samaritans

Discussion in 'Off-Topic' started by Steel_Avatar, Mar 24, 2005.

  1. Steel_Avatar

    Steel_Avatar IncGamers Member

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    Good Samaritans

    Should the law compel the individual to assist another individual who is in danger, either from an illegal act or from so-called accidental (or natural) dangers.

    An example of the former would be an individual being robbed by another individual. An example of the former would be an individual trapped in a burning building (cause of which is irrelevant).

    Edit: It'd be cool to actually have a discussion, so please keep the one word answers to a minimum :)
     
  2. GIR

    GIR Banned

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    I don't think the law should require people to put themselves in danger, no.

    Besides, if it did, there wouldn't be any more good sumaritans. Everyone would be a required sumaritan.
     
  3. Cloud_Walker

    Cloud_Walker Banned

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    Yes, the law should compel the individual to act according to the "golden rule." (I'm sure you all know what that is)

    Ideally, though, there should not be a law to require such actions.
     
  4. DrunkPotHead

    DrunkPotHead IncGamers Member

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    I second that. The law shouldn't compel based on morals.
     
  5. Steel_Avatar

    Steel_Avatar IncGamers Member

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    I would like to state that this is not a moralistic question. Laws against murder can be argued to be in the interests of the state and of the society, and while they may also be construed to be moral in nature, the overall goal is not. If we assume thus that murder is bad for society, would it not be in society's interests to compel individuals to prevent such actions whenever possible, irregardless of the morality?

    Cloud: Why?
     
  6. Yaboosh

    Yaboosh IncGamers Member

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    Laws and morals are impossible to separate completely so if you raise a question of legality morality must also be considered.

    This being said, I think your scenarios are bad for this hypothetical question.

    A better scenario is this: A person is in trouble and you can save them without significant personal loss/risk. Say someone is drowning and you must only lend a hand to pull them out. Should THIS be a legal mandate to help? I still say no. You should always help no doubt, I would always help even with reasonable risk to myself, but I don't believe the government should intervene here.

    Your scenarios are without a doubt not able to be criminalized, in my opinion, because of the significant amount of personal risk inherent in them.
     
  7. Steel_Avatar

    Steel_Avatar IncGamers Member

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    Well, it's too late to edit, but I agree with you.

    But I disagree that law and morality can't be completely separated, but that's another thread.
     
  8. Peregrine

    Peregrine IncGamers Member

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    Absolutely not. In situations like the burning building, helping involves an extreme degree of risk. And other situations could have lesser risk, or the "helper" might have incomplete knowledge of the situation. Even if there's no risk, the helper might not know it in a real-life situation with no time to think. Or they might not think they're unable to help and only know that they could've done something with 20/20 hindsight.

    The problem is where to draw the line. What is an acceptable risk to force someone to take for someone else? In my opinion, none, you can't put these things into law when it's such a subjective judgement.
     
  9. Garbad_the_Weak

    Garbad_the_Weak IncGamers Member

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    All laws are based on morality. Well, other than a few that are based on the need for order, like driving on the right side of the road.

    Garbad
     
  10. DrunkPotHead

    DrunkPotHead IncGamers Member

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    How about if you only make laws that without which a society can't exist. For example, legalized murder or robbery would make a society crumble, but legalized jaywalking won't, therefore one law is needed, one is not.
     
  11. Necrolestes

    Necrolestes IncGamers Member

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    Good Samaritan, bad people

    There are states in the US that have so-called "Good Samaritan" laws that either require you to render aid if you can to a person in distress or protect you from prosecution if harm is done during the rendering of said aid but that you acted in good faith and more harm would have been done if no aid had been offered. From a medical standpoint, all physicians must render aid to those in need if they feel that by doing so, they will help the patient. If they determine that help is neither needed nor useful, they are under no obligation to offer their services.

    In the non-medical situation, you must determine whether or not your help will aid the person or if by helping that person, you are placing yourself in harm's way. You wouldn't rush to help one person being attacked by a gang; instead, you'd call the cops because chances are good that if you tried to help the attacked, the attackers would harm you next. You could rush to help a person being robbed if you believed that you could stop the robbery; if there's a gun or other weapon involved, you may hesitate to render aid and this in itself may lead to further harm on the person being robbed but you also have to consider what's best for you (a dead hero does no one any good). The law can only go so far because there are people who will break (or ignore) the law if they feel that they would be harmed more by action rather than by inaction (this is self-preservation, a recognized legal defense).

    The law should compel you to act but it should not determine whether or not you have done enough to help (calling the cops may be more effective than getting physically involved in defending someone but you also haven't placed yourself in immediate danger in the former situation so one could argue that you haven't actually done enough).
     
  12. HAMC8112

    HAMC8112 IncGamers Member

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    That would be the day, people in general are to scared to help someone who is being robbed to name just one thing. As they should be, for good reason. Take any hold-up artist, swinging his .45, give me your wallet he says, hold it right there, i am ging to aid my fellow man, Steel avatar says. Bang bang, oops it seems that Steel is not made of steel after all.
     
  13. MixedVariety

    MixedVariety Banned

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    Pretty much what Necrolestes said. In fact, I have discovered that I have only to think something, and Necrolestes will henceforth post it. That is quite cool and saves my keyboard unnecessary wear and tear.


    I believe that morally, the rendering of aid to fellow humans, when possible and sensibly determined to not be either endangering to the aider or further endangering to the aidee, should be a natural response for humans.
    As for making it a law, that's sticky. And definitely there should be no legal repercussions on the helper if things don't quite work out according to plan, unless gross stupidity can be proven (ie, I'll throw you out the window of a 60-story skyscraper when you're having a heart attack to get you to the ambulance faster.)
     
  14. asdf

    asdf IncGamers Member

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    people should not be compelled to give aid to others, especially when it often means that they are going to be placing themselves in danger. would the elderly/unfit be automatically exempt from this law? if something like this is enacted, i'm afraid that it could cause an increase in number of assaults or murders.

    an alternative would be to compel people to notify the proper authorities as soon as possible, however.
     
  15. Freemason

    Freemason Banned

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    I'm bound by an oath I took to give help if I can without serious harm to myself. I'll give aid if I can. If not, you're screwed.
     
  16. Anakha1

    Anakha1 Banned

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    I'm all for good-samaritan laws. And FYI, they never involve putting yourself at risk. So the possibility of being compelled by law to run into a burning building or to save someone from an armed mugger is nil.
     
  17. DrunkCajun

    DrunkCajun Banned

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    I'm actually frightened to death of being in a position to have to make a decision like this, and not for the reasons you would think.

    While I realize that it is not the norm, and it is limited regionally by the local and state laws and legal precedents, I hear a lot about lawsuits related to situations like this one. Someone suing because in the process of having CPR done on them, they suffered broken ribs. Someone suing because their head hit the ground kinda hard when someone pulled them from a burning building and collapsed outside while still carrying them.

    Or the flipside--you don't do anything when you probably could, and wind up in jail and/or dealing with a civil suit to screw you for it. Frankly, when someone has the misfortune of being in a position to be hurt/in danger, afterwards they tend to look for someone to blame, and feel entitled to an endless degree of restitution for what happened to them, regardless of who was to fault and who pays the restitution.

    Frankly, I don't want to be put in a situation where I have to do something to help someone that could result in that person later taking me to court because I tripped and the fall broke their arm, nevermind that I fractured my skull in the tumble down the stairs.

    Laws to protect people with good intentions who act sensibly are something I'm all for. Suing the person who saved your life because they caused you to scrape your knee in the process should get you dumped back in the burning building.

    As far as laws to require people to act in a situation are concerned, I am completely against them. As far as I understand, a situation in which you blatantly ignore someone you could easily save with no harm or risk to yourself is a situation in which you could be prosecuted for criminal negligence. Anything where there is risk involved is a different story in my opinion. The problem with legislating something like this is that its subjective. It may be criminal for a professional lifeguard to ignore someone drowning, but what about someone who can't swim? What about someone who can swim, but isn't capable of swimming due to a medical condition? What about someone who's capable of swimming, but is deathly afraid of it for some reason or another? Who goes to jail and who doesn't?
     
  18. axeil

    axeil IncGamers Member

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    To fully explain my arguments on this please read the 21 chapter version of Anthony Burgess's A Clockwork Orange. For a summary please continue.

    Morality is useless without choice. If we are forced, either by laws or psychological conditioning to do only good then the acts no longer are good. Good and evil must exist in balance for either to exist. If we force people to do only good we prevent the ability to choose evil and thus there is no more morality.

    Think about it. If people were forced to run into burning buildings would that be seen as brave, or heroic or an increadible sacrifice for others? No. It would be seen as routine drudgery.

    So in short, I would help people all day long, provided I could render the help needed. But if I was legally forced to do so I wouldn't feel like I was doing "the right thing" anymore.
     
  19. Anakha1

    Anakha1 Banned

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    Sigh. As I said, the law cannot force you to in any way put yourself in danger (other than being required to call 911). However, it can force you to assist someone who is obviously in peril but which presents no such danger to you. If a little old lady falls over and knocks herself out on the sidewalk, you should be compelled to assist. The law (in most places) recognizes that people have a reasonable expectation upon them to assist others in immediate need or danger as a part of a civilized society. And Good Samaratin laws do require you to inform authorities in cases where it's too dangerous for a civilian to intervene. That is a reasonable expectation, I think. If anyone disagrees with that, I hope no one ever helps you when you need it.
     
  20. DrunkCajun

    DrunkCajun Banned

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    Making a phone call is fine with me. What's not fine with me is trying to extract someone from a car crash. If they're internally injured and I don't know it, but there's a fire nearby and gasoline leaking, and I remove them to prevent them from going "boom" and hurt them worse in the process, and find myself hiring a lawyer to explain why I thought that a crashed car next to a pool of burning gasoline wasn't the best place for them to be, that's not fine with me.

    I'm all for helping people, and would do my best to do everything I could to help someone in trouble. However, I would be on pins and needles for a few weeks afterwards expecting a subpeona.
     

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