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Unanswerable questions

Why does it take 20 minutes to put Aiden down for a nap, but an hour and a half to put him down at night?

Which is worse, ethically speaking: causing an accident due to intoxication, or causing an accident due to obliviousness?


Jun. 29th, 2008 07:57 pm (UTC)
Can the person be said to be as responsible for the second (impaired) decision?

What about driving while upset, tired, angry, on the phone, etc. - things that happen every day, but 99+% of the time don't lead to accidents?

And of course there's the question of the degree of intoxication. One drink too many and misjudging your own tolerance is on some level different than getting utterly smashed and going joyriding.

And then there's the matter of training. We're trained not to get behind the wheel if we've been drinking; but we're also trained to watch the road, leave distance between cars, stay focused, etc. An intoxicated driver is ignoring one rule, whereas an oblivious driver is ignoring dozens.

The ethical picture may also change depending on what happens afterwards - does the driver change their habits as a result?

Ethical dilemmas can never be answered in black and white. Too much "depends".
Jun. 29th, 2008 08:23 pm (UTC)
True -- but it's harder to pinpoint the cause of obliviousness, so it's hard to say what rules were being ignored. There's a whole lot of depends there.

The gal who hit us apparently just didn't notice that we were slowing and turning. But she was horrified, and I think it's pretty likely that since she was so young, it's going to be an important lesson and behavior change for her. I hope so, at any rate.

On the nap/bedtime thing: I bet he knows which is which, and that at bedtime it will be a really long time before he gets to see you/play/etc., so he puts it off as much as possible. Where for a nap, he knows it won't be long, so no big deal.
Jun. 29th, 2008 08:29 pm (UTC)
Pondering a bit more, often the intoxicated driver is ignoring many of the same rules that the oblivious one is.

The second decision -- much of the time when you make the first decision, you're doing it knowing that that second decision is going to have to be made. It does happen that someone will have several drinks at home and then discover some lack that requires a trip to the grocery store despite the intoxication, but that's significantly less common.
Jun. 29th, 2008 10:54 pm (UTC)
Well, we're not told not to drive while 'having had one too many for our ability to handle it.' ...we're told not to drink and drive. :P We all know the law(s)... it's not a big mystery. Friends of mine who drive after 'just one' deserve the DUI as much as ones who drive after ten- it's just the ones who have had ten are more likely to have a catastrophic accident, like driving onto the wrong side of the road entirely. :/

Sometimes, things DO "depend..."

But when it comes to drinking and driving, if you have even ONE drink, you know you're breaking the law- taking a risk. Every drink after that, is just digging a grave deeper. :( More trouble can happen, but it's still against the law.
Jun. 30th, 2008 07:57 am (UTC)
I know you're talking about "ethical responsibility", but just as a side note, "legal responsibility" varies from state to state, but mostly boil down to "if you broke the law and that law breaking created an accident, you're at falt." So driving angry doesn't make you responsible--but driving fast because you're angry does.

As to ethical responsibility--I'd still have to go with intoxicated being worse than obliviousness.

"An intoxicated driver is ignoring one rule, whereas an oblivious driver is ignoring dozens." Because the intoxicated driver is also chemically oblivious (hence, "intoxicated"), the intoxicated driver is going to break just as many rules as the oblivious one.


firesea: self-portrait
Heather Keith Freeman
Fire Sea Studios

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