Apathetic Observer

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Apathetic Observer

Postby Sabina » Sun Jan 10, 2010 6:59 pm

First a short story:

[A] man who is a very good swimmer is taking a walk when he notices a boy, who apparently can't swim, in the water. The boy is struggling to stay afloat, he is screaming and yelling for help.

The man realizes that he could easily save the boy, and that there is no real danger to him personally if he does so, but he decides not to. After all, he had nothing to do with the boy falling into the water, he thinks to himself, and besides, he knows the water is cold and he doesn't want to risk catching a cold. It would be inconvenient.

He continues his walk, ignoring the boy's calls as they fade out.

THE END

Obviously the man is apathetic, callous, and so on... I believe there is no need to debate that.
The question is, do you believe the man had a moral obligation to save the boy?
If so, then would you say that he should have the legal obligation as well? What are your thoughts?

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Re: Apathetic Observer

Postby mirjana » Sun Jan 10, 2010 9:56 pm

This is a kind of illustration for responsibility for not doing something. In most cases people tend to discuss about responsibility for doing, neglecting the aspect of responsibility for not doing what must be done in the situation.
This example is too simple in the sense of clarity that the man in the story is not only apathetic but a potential murderer as well. Knowing how we judge murderers, I think that such behaviour deserves also penalization. The problem is though, and I think that is the point of the story, that very often such kind of apathetic behaviour is not witnessed. That is why I love Dostoevsky, who describes this shadow parts of human nature that cause so much troubles. Who is the murderer in Brothers Karamazov, the true murder or Ivan who inspired the whole act?
Therefore this story is very good illustration for any other kind of situation when we decide to be blind with eyes, not to hear although having good hearing, or simply comfortable to move as this something is not our personal problem.
THE END
But, when the problem becomes personal, very often is too late to do anything.

Good post Sabina.

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Re: Apathetic Observer

Postby Ryan » Sun Jan 10, 2010 10:36 pm

Sabina wrote:The question is, do you believe the man had a moral obligation to save the boy?
If so, then would you say that he should have the legal obligation as well? What are your thoughts?

This is a tricky one... I first needed to consider the whole "moral obligation" aspect of the first question. It threw me for a loop because, for me, an obligation is generally imposed...either by one's self (which obviously wasn't the case in the story)... or by society. So for me it shouldn't be a matter of obligation at all... it should be simply a matter of care for members of your own race/herd/beings... so ideally it would never have to come to the point of being a legal obligation.

Should it be made to be a legal obligation...no... I have no awesome response as to why not. I just think that there are too many legal obligations that leave too many with the feeling that there aren't any real freedoms in life...and as a result, I believe that most feel if they aren't breaking "the law" they are, as a result, doing right... kind of like what Kris said earlier. I also think that this, in turn, leads to people not thinking for themselves which leaves a big gap for the "wrong" people to think for them instead.
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Re: Apathetic Observer

Postby Kalvis » Thu Jun 17, 2010 4:41 pm

Since I'm not religious anyhow then I don't believe in an universal moral. I find it up ourselves to define our own moral, and therefore one idea is not necessarily morally better than another. We are the ones who makes values in life. What has made us think that it would be morally wrong to what the man did, is pretty much based on a morallity that we've been tought throughout history, and has become the norm, but theres also a tactical reason behind it, that if we didn't help eachother as humans, the risks of surviving as a community, would be poorer.

I believe that everything we do is done for our own good, wether we want it to be or not. (I know that's not a very romantic way of thinking, but I can be romantic some times, don't worry. ;-) So if this man would prefer not getting wet, rather than rescuing this child, that is what he finds most valuable. But again he could think, that if he did not save this child, he might be punished for doing so by lets say the childs parrents (who feels attached to their children for their "own good", because the child gives them joy and therefore they want to keep the child alive). Normally a person would of course help a child in a situation like that, and that is because the child (direct og inderectly) will give us joy, or it could be because the man gets sattisfied by knowing that he has done something "morally correct" which makes other people happy, and therefore somehow will make himself happy in the end.

I'm sorry for my poor english, but i hope you understood it. :-)

I am also sorry that I forgot to introduce myself, since this is my first reply on this website (which is a website that I've been enjoying reading :))
- My name is Louis, I'm 18 years old and from Denmark.
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Re: Apathetic Observer

Postby Ryan » Thu Jun 17, 2010 4:55 pm

Nicely said Kalvis and welcome to DS. I have a question about your name, if you don't mind, is it pronounced like Lewis or Louie? Do your hear the "S" or is it silent?
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Re: Apathetic Observer

Postby Kalvis » Thu Jun 17, 2010 7:36 pm

Thank you Ryan for your warm welcoming! :-) Yes of course! You can ask about anything you feel like. Yes my name is with a silent S, so it is pronounced Louie! :-)

I'm not sure how much i will be commenting on the post in here, but I am very interessted in reading your posts to get inspired. Well we'll see!
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Re: Apathetic Observer

Postby Sabina » Thu Jun 17, 2010 8:27 pm

Kalvis wrote:I'm not sure how much i will be commenting on the post in here, but I am very interessted in reading your posts to get inspired. Well we'll see!

Well, I hope you say something from time to time. Or every time. :)
Welcome to DS Louis!

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Re: Apathetic Observer

Postby IsonaliAki » Fri Aug 06, 2010 2:26 am

First let me offer my welcome to Louis!

That said, on to the question...

Is there a moral obligation for the man to have saved the boy? That depends greatly on the morality of the person. For the man, obviously not. If it were me? Very much so.

Should there be a legal obligation? That, again, would depend on the situation. If the man were, for example, lifeguard certified, then yes there should be a legal obligation, a medical negligence of sorts.

This was a difficult question for me, though, because it raises a greater number of questions. For example, where were those responsible for the young boy? Legal consequences for the man for walking on? No... legal consequences for the guardians of the boy? Yes. That, though, raises the question of the situation... was the boy a runaway and the parents were searching desperately for him? It's another one of those moments where such a short, precise, story raises more question than it answers.
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