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Smullyan's Paradox

drafterman
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12/14/2012 8:17:42 AM
Posted: 3 years ago
From: http://www.stumbleupon.com...

"At a desert oasis, A and B decide independently to murder C. A poisons C's canteen, and later B punches a hole in it. C dies of thirst. Who killed him?

A argues that C never drank the poison. B claims that he only deprived C of poisoned water. They're both right, but still C is dead. Who's guilty?"


Now, legally, B is guilty of murder. He intended to kill C by depriving him of water and C died of thirst. That C would have died anyway is immaterial, especially since B didn't know C would have died anyway.

However, A is also guilty of attempted murder, since the attempt only failed because B interfered with A's plans (also unbeknownst to A).

However, from a moral standpoint, what is the appropriate interpretation of this scenario? Clearly both are guilty of taking action to cause harm to C. But, who should take most, if not all, of the blame for C's death?

Personally, I think it aligns with the legal interpretation. If B wasn't in the picture, and C tripped and fell and spilled all of his water and still died of thirst, his death would be accidental. Again, the fact that he would have died anyway is immaterial, since we're all going to die anyway, eventually. The immediate "cause" of C's death was of thirst, and that condition was directly brought about by B, ergo B is responsible for the death of C.

A is still guilty of trying to kill C, as that attempt failed through no fault or action of A, so A can't claim any sort of immunity to guilty here, since A didn't do anything that stop his own attempt to kill A. Neither can B claim any sort of attempt to protect C from A, since B wasn't aware of the poison.
Ore_Ele
Posts: 25,980
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12/14/2012 8:27:03 AM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 12/14/2012 8:17:42 AM, drafterman wrote:
From: http://www.stumbleupon.com...

"At a desert oasis, A and B decide independently to murder C. A poisons C's canteen, and later B punches a hole in it. C dies of thirst. Who killed him?

A argues that C never drank the poison. B claims that he only deprived C of poisoned water. They're both right, but still C is dead. Who's guilty?"


Now, legally, B is guilty of murder. He intended to kill C by depriving him of water and C died of thirst. That C would have died anyway is immaterial, especially since B didn't know C would have died anyway.

However, A is also guilty of attempted murder, since the attempt only failed because B interfered with A's plans (also unbeknownst to A).

However, from a moral standpoint, what is the appropriate interpretation of this scenario? Clearly both are guilty of taking action to cause harm to C. But, who should take most, if not all, of the blame for C's death?

Personally, I think it aligns with the legal interpretation. If B wasn't in the picture, and C tripped and fell and spilled all of his water and still died of thirst, his death would be accidental. Again, the fact that he would have died anyway is immaterial, since we're all going to die anyway, eventually. The immediate "cause" of C's death was of thirst, and that condition was directly brought about by B, ergo B is responsible for the death of C.

A is still guilty of trying to kill C, as that attempt failed through no fault or action of A, so A can't claim any sort of immunity to guilty here, since A didn't do anything that stop his own attempt to kill A. Neither can B claim any sort of attempt to protect C from A, since B wasn't aware of the poison.

You said that "B claims that he only deprived C of poisoned water." As for who is guilty of murder, this is were motivation comes in. I B really only punched a hole in the water can so that C would be saved from poison, then B is not guilty. If his intent was to cause C to die of thirst, then he is.

The first thing to understand is that just because someone dies, does not mean they were murdered. If B saves C from poison, then C dies later anyway, there was no murder (only attempted murder by A).
"Wanting Red Rhino Pill to have gender"
drafterman
Posts: 18,870
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12/14/2012 9:25:23 AM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 12/14/2012 8:27:03 AM, Ore_Ele wrote:
At 12/14/2012 8:17:42 AM, drafterman wrote:
From: http://www.stumbleupon.com...

"At a desert oasis, A and B decide independently to murder C. A poisons C's canteen, and later B punches a hole in it. C dies of thirst. Who killed him?

A argues that C never drank the poison. B claims that he only deprived C of poisoned water. They're both right, but still C is dead. Who's guilty?"


Now, legally, B is guilty of murder. He intended to kill C by depriving him of water and C died of thirst. That C would have died anyway is immaterial, especially since B didn't know C would have died anyway.

However, A is also guilty of attempted murder, since the attempt only failed because B interfered with A's plans (also unbeknownst to A).

However, from a moral standpoint, what is the appropriate interpretation of this scenario? Clearly both are guilty of taking action to cause harm to C. But, who should take most, if not all, of the blame for C's death?

Personally, I think it aligns with the legal interpretation. If B wasn't in the picture, and C tripped and fell and spilled all of his water and still died of thirst, his death would be accidental. Again, the fact that he would have died anyway is immaterial, since we're all going to die anyway, eventually. The immediate "cause" of C's death was of thirst, and that condition was directly brought about by B, ergo B is responsible for the death of C.

A is still guilty of trying to kill C, as that attempt failed through no fault or action of A, so A can't claim any sort of immunity to guilty here, since A didn't do anything that stop his own attempt to kill A. Neither can B claim any sort of attempt to protect C from A, since B wasn't aware of the poison.

You said that "B claims that he only deprived C of poisoned water." As for who is guilty of murder, this is were motivation comes in. I B really only punched a hole in the water can so that C would be saved from poison, then B is not guilty. If his intent was to cause C to die of thirst, then he is.

The first thing to understand is that just because someone dies, does not mean they were murdered. If B saves C from poison, then C dies later anyway, there was no murder (only attempted murder by A).

"A and B decide independently to murder C"
Ren
Posts: 7,102
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12/14/2012 9:30:40 AM
Posted: 3 years ago
This is a legal paradox in terms of ethics, because although it's clear that they're equally guilty, under the eyes of the law, only the successful person is guilty of murder, while the other is guilty of attempted homicide. This is ultimately due to the limitations of the law -- it can't be proven beyond the shadow of doubt that person A had as much intention as person B to kill person C, and would have been successful had person B not intervened.

All things known and considered, they're equally guilty.
drafterman
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12/14/2012 9:35:29 AM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 12/14/2012 9:30:40 AM, Ren wrote:
This is a legal paradox in terms of ethics, because although it's clear that they're equally guilty, under the eyes of the law, only the successful person is guilty of murder, while the other is guilty of attempted homicide. This is ultimately due to the limitations of the law -- it can't be proven beyond the shadow of doubt that person A had as much intention as person B to kill person C, and would have been successful had person B not intervened.

All things known and considered, they're equally guilty.

That's pretty much the conclusion I've come to. I think what is supposed to trip people up is the fact that, in either case, C would have died, with a subtle implication that only one person can be guilty of causing C's death. However, the explicit mention that both A and B were intentionally trying to kill C makes it a rather simple scenario.

If it was as Ore was suggesting, that B wasn't trying to kill C (or was even trying to save C), then it's still simple from a legal standpoint, but maybe not so from an ethical one, or in terms of causality. That is, if B dumped the water out trying to save C from poison, but then died of thirst, who "caused" C's death? A or B? B seems to be the immediate cause, but only because of what A did.
tBoonePickens
Posts: 3,266
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12/14/2012 11:39:39 AM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 12/14/2012 8:17:42 AM, drafterman wrote:
From: http://www.stumbleupon.com...

"At a desert oasis, A and B decide independently to murder C. A poisons C's canteen, and later B punches a hole in it. C dies of thirst. Who killed him?

A argues that C never drank the poison. B claims that he only deprived C of poisoned water. They're both right, but still C is dead. Who's guilty?"


Now, legally, B is guilty of murder. He intended to kill C by depriving him of water and C died of thirst. That C would have died anyway is immaterial, especially since B didn't know C would have died anyway.

However, A is also guilty of attempted murder, since the attempt only failed because B interfered with A's plans (also unbeknownst to A).

However, from a moral standpoint, what is the appropriate interpretation of this scenario? Clearly both are guilty of taking action to cause harm to C. But, who should take most, if not all, of the blame for C's death?

Personally, I think it aligns with the legal interpretation. If B wasn't in the picture, and C tripped and fell and spilled all of his water and still died of thirst, his death would be accidental. Again, the fact that he would have died anyway is immaterial, since we're all going to die anyway, eventually. The immediate "cause" of C's death was of thirst, and that condition was directly brought about by B, ergo B is responsible for the death of C.

A is still guilty of trying to kill C, as that attempt failed through no fault or action of A, so A can't claim any sort of immunity to guilty here, since A didn't do anything that stop his own attempt to kill A. Neither can B claim any sort of attempt to protect C from A, since B wasn't aware of the poison.

They are both guilty of attempted murder; as it says "A and B decide independently to murder C" and they both take actions to do so. The death of C was brought on by dehydration and B is the cause of that; thus B is the responsible party. The fact that he may have died from poison is irrelevant because C did not die from poison but instead died of dehydration brought about by B's actions. One cannot die from dehydration if one has water to drink, poisoned or not. Also, whether B was aware of the poison or not it also irrelevant as B decided to murder C, took the necessary steps, and succeeded!

Cheers!
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: At 10/3/2012 4:28:52 AM, Wallstreetatheist wrote:
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MouthWash
Posts: 2,607
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1/17/2013 12:57:43 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 12/14/2012 8:17:42 AM, drafterman wrote:
"At a desert oasis, A and B decide independently to murder C. A poisons C's canteen, and later B punches a hole in it. C dies of thirst. Who killed him?

A argues that C never drank the poison. B claims that he only deprived C of poisoned water. They're both right, but still C is dead. Who's guilty?"


I never realized that Drafterman couldn't read.
"Well, that gives whole new meaning to my assassination. If I was going to die anyway, perhaps I should leave the Bolsheviks' descendants some Christmas cookies instead of breaking their dishes and vodka bottles in their sleep." -Tsar Nicholas II (YYW)
Sidewalker
Posts: 3,713
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1/17/2013 1:42:45 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 12/14/2012 8:17:42 AM, drafterman wrote:
From: http://www.stumbleupon.com...

"At a desert oasis, A and B decide independently to murder C. A poisons C's canteen, and later B punches a hole in it. C dies of thirst. Who killed him?

A argues that C never drank the poison. B claims that he only deprived C of poisoned water. They're both right, but still C is dead. Who's guilty?"


Now, legally, B is guilty of murder. He intended to kill C by depriving him of water and C died of thirst. That C would have died anyway is immaterial, especially since B didn't know C would have died anyway.

However, A is also guilty of attempted murder, since the attempt only failed because B interfered with A's plans (also unbeknownst to A).

However, from a moral standpoint, what is the appropriate interpretation of this scenario? Clearly both are guilty of taking action to cause harm to C. But, who should take most, if not all, of the blame for C's death?

From a moral standpoint, intent is everything, both intended to kill C so both are morally guilty of attempted murder, B was successful so he is guilty of murder.

Personally, I think it aligns with the legal interpretation. If B wasn't in the picture, and C tripped and fell and spilled all of his water and still died of thirst, his death would be accidental. Again, the fact that he would have died anyway is immaterial, since we're all going to die anyway, eventually. The immediate "cause" of C's death was of thirst, and that condition was directly brought about by B, ergo B is responsible for the death of C.

Yes.

A is still guilty of trying to kill C, as that attempt failed through no fault or action of A, so A can't claim any sort of immunity to guilty here, since A didn't do anything that stop his own attempt to kill A. Neither can B claim any sort of attempt to protect C from A, since B wasn't aware of the poison.

Correct, the fact that B saved C from drinking poison is morally irrelevent because that wasn't his intent, the only relationship changed by his action is the one between A and C, which remained attempted murder rather than murder because of B's actions. This has no bearing on B's guilt and moral responsibility, it only saved A from moral responsibility for killing C even though that was his intent.
"It is one of the commonest of mistakes to consider that the limit of our power of perception is also the limit of all there is to perceive." " C. W. Leadbeater
natoast
Posts: 204
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1/17/2013 4:36:29 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 12/14/2012 8:17:42 AM, drafterman wrote:
From: http://www.stumbleupon.com...

"At a desert oasis, A and B decide independently to murder C. A poisons C's canteen, and later B punches a hole in it. C dies of thirst. Who killed him?

A argues that C never drank the poison. B claims that he only deprived C of poisoned water. They're both right, but still C is dead. Who's guilty?"


Now, legally, B is guilty of murder. He intended to kill C by depriving him of water and C died of thirst. That C would have died anyway is immaterial, especially since B didn't know C would have died anyway.

However, A is also guilty of attempted murder, since the attempt only failed because B interfered with A's plans (also unbeknownst to A).

However, from a moral standpoint, what is the appropriate interpretation of this scenario? Clearly both are guilty of taking action to cause harm to C. But, who should take most, if not all, of the blame for C's death?

Personally, I think it aligns with the legal interpretation. If B wasn't in the picture, and C tripped and fell and spilled all of his water and still died of thirst, his death would be accidental. Again, the fact that he would have died anyway is immaterial, since we're all going to die anyway, eventually. The immediate "cause" of C's death was of thirst, and that condition was directly brought about by B, ergo B is responsible for the death of C.

A is still guilty of trying to kill C, as that attempt failed through no fault or action of A, so A can't claim any sort of immunity to guilty here, since A didn't do anything that stop his own attempt to kill A. Neither can B claim any sort of attempt to protect C from A, since B wasn't aware of the poison.

Well, I agree that B should take all the blame for C's actual death, in that he killed him. But I think that they committed the same moral crime, because they both made the decision to kill C And this decision is the moral crime, not the actual results. Because of this, they should both receive equal punishment.
Greyparrot
Posts: 14,211
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1/17/2013 5:33:00 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
'A' had intent and possibly a motive, 'B' had the means.

I believe you should have both to be a murderer?

Otherwise thirst killed him. Nature kills yet again.
Franz_Reynard
Posts: 1,227
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1/17/2013 5:41:13 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 12/14/2012 8:17:42 AM, drafterman wrote:
From: http://www.stumbleupon.com...

"At a desert oasis, A and B decide independently to murder C. A poisons C's canteen, and later B punches a hole in it. C dies of thirst. Who killed him?

A argues that C never drank the poison. B claims that he only deprived C of poisoned water. They're both right, but still C is dead. Who's guilty?"


Now, legally, B is guilty of murder. He intended to kill C by depriving him of water and C died of thirst. That C would have died anyway is immaterial, especially since B didn't know C would have died anyway.

However, A is also guilty of attempted murder, since the attempt only failed because B interfered with A's plans (also unbeknownst to A).

However, from a moral standpoint, what is the appropriate interpretation of this scenario? Clearly both are guilty of taking action to cause harm to C. But, who should take most, if not all, of the blame for C's death?

Personally, I think it aligns with the legal interpretation. If B wasn't in the picture, and C tripped and fell and spilled all of his water and still died of thirst, his death would be accidental. Again, the fact that he would have died anyway is immaterial, since we're all going to die anyway, eventually. The immediate "cause" of C's death was of thirst, and that condition was directly brought about by B, ergo B is responsible for the death of C.

A is still guilty of trying to kill C, as that attempt failed through no fault or action of A, so A can't claim any sort of immunity to guilty here, since A didn't do anything that stop his own attempt to kill A. Neither can B claim any sort of attempt to protect C from A, since B wasn't aware of the poison.

Actually, under the law, one is guilty of assisting the other of murder, and by precedent, both would likely end up with a murder 1 conviction and life in prison (in the Bible Belt, at least).
Dirty.Harry
Posts: 1,559
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1/22/2013 9:21:33 AM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 12/14/2012 8:17:42 AM, drafterman wrote:
From: http://www.stumbleupon.com...

"At a desert oasis, A and B decide independently to murder C. A poisons C's canteen, and later B punches a hole in it. C dies of thirst. Who killed him?

A argues that C never drank the poison. B claims that he only deprived C of poisoned water. They're both right, but still C is dead. Who's guilty?"


Now, legally, B is guilty of murder. He intended to kill C by depriving him of water and C died of thirst. That C would have died anyway is immaterial, especially since B didn't know C would have died anyway.

However, A is also guilty of attempted murder, since the attempt only failed because B interfered with A's plans (also unbeknownst to A).

However, from a moral standpoint, what is the appropriate interpretation of this scenario? Clearly both are guilty of taking action to cause harm to C. But, who should take most, if not all, of the blame for C's death?

Personally, I think it aligns with the legal interpretation. If B wasn't in the picture, and C tripped and fell and spilled all of his water and still died of thirst, his death would be accidental. Again, the fact that he would have died anyway is immaterial, since we're all going to die anyway, eventually. The immediate "cause" of C's death was of thirst, and that condition was directly brought about by B, ergo B is responsible for the death of C.

A is still guilty of trying to kill C, as that attempt failed through no fault or action of A, so A can't claim any sort of immunity to guilty here, since A didn't do anything that stop his own attempt to kill A. Neither can B claim any sort of attempt to protect C from A, since B wasn't aware of the poison.

This is most interesting - but something is bothering me and it is this:

"B claims that he only deprived C of poisoned water." seems to conflict with "since B wasn't aware of the poison".

How did B become aware of the posion? if he was aware before puncturing the canteen then his defence has merits but if he wasn't aware then he could never even present such a defence - yet the post says he did present such a defence...

Harry.
Stephen_Hawkins
Posts: 5,316
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1/22/2013 2:20:24 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 12/14/2012 9:25:23 AM, drafterman wrote:
At 12/14/2012 8:27:03 AM, Ore_Ele wrote:
At 12/14/2012 8:17:42 AM, drafterman wrote:
From: http://www.stumbleupon.com...

"At a desert oasis, A and B decide independently to murder C. A poisons C's canteen, and later B punches a hole in it. C dies of thirst. Who killed him?

A argues that C never drank the poison. B claims that he only deprived C of poisoned water. They're both right, but still C is dead. Who's guilty?"


Now, legally, B is guilty of murder. He intended to kill C by depriving him of water and C died of thirst. That C would have died anyway is immaterial, especially since B didn't know C would have died anyway.

However, A is also guilty of attempted murder, since the attempt only failed because B interfered with A's plans (also unbeknownst to A).

However, from a moral standpoint, what is the appropriate interpretation of this scenario? Clearly both are guilty of taking action to cause harm to C. But, who should take most, if not all, of the blame for C's death?

Personally, I think it aligns with the legal interpretation. If B wasn't in the picture, and C tripped and fell and spilled all of his water and still died of thirst, his death would be accidental. Again, the fact that he would have died anyway is immaterial, since we're all going to die anyway, eventually. The immediate "cause" of C's death was of thirst, and that condition was directly brought about by B, ergo B is responsible for the death of C.

A is still guilty of trying to kill C, as that attempt failed through no fault or action of A, so A can't claim any sort of immunity to guilty here, since A didn't do anything that stop his own attempt to kill A. Neither can B claim any sort of attempt to protect C from A, since B wasn't aware of the poison.

You said that "B claims that he only deprived C of poisoned water." As for who is guilty of murder, this is were motivation comes in. I B really only punched a hole in the water can so that C would be saved from poison, then B is not guilty. If his intent was to cause C to die of thirst, then he is.

The first thing to understand is that just because someone dies, does not mean they were murdered. If B saves C from poison, then C dies later anyway, there was no murder (only attempted murder by A).

"A and B decide independently to murder C"

Agreed.
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drafterman
Posts: 18,870
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1/22/2013 2:28:02 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 1/22/2013 9:21:33 AM, Dirty.Harry wrote:
At 12/14/2012 8:17:42 AM, drafterman wrote:
From: http://www.stumbleupon.com...

"At a desert oasis, A and B decide independently to murder C. A poisons C's canteen, and later B punches a hole in it. C dies of thirst. Who killed him?

A argues that C never drank the poison. B claims that he only deprived C of poisoned water. They're both right, but still C is dead. Who's guilty?"


Now, legally, B is guilty of murder. He intended to kill C by depriving him of water and C died of thirst. That C would have died anyway is immaterial, especially since B didn't know C would have died anyway.

However, A is also guilty of attempted murder, since the attempt only failed because B interfered with A's plans (also unbeknownst to A).

However, from a moral standpoint, what is the appropriate interpretation of this scenario? Clearly both are guilty of taking action to cause harm to C. But, who should take most, if not all, of the blame for C's death?

Personally, I think it aligns with the legal interpretation. If B wasn't in the picture, and C tripped and fell and spilled all of his water and still died of thirst, his death would be accidental. Again, the fact that he would have died anyway is immaterial, since we're all going to die anyway, eventually. The immediate "cause" of C's death was of thirst, and that condition was directly brought about by B, ergo B is responsible for the death of C.

A is still guilty of trying to kill C, as that attempt failed through no fault or action of A, so A can't claim any sort of immunity to guilty here, since A didn't do anything that stop his own attempt to kill A. Neither can B claim any sort of attempt to protect C from A, since B wasn't aware of the poison.

This is most interesting - but something is bothering me and it is this:

"B claims that he only deprived C of poisoned water." seems to conflict with "since B wasn't aware of the poison".

How did B become aware of the posion? if he was aware before puncturing the canteen then his defence has merits but if he wasn't aware then he could never even present such a defence - yet the post says he did present such a defence...

Harry.

That's a fair point. B's defense seems like an ex post factor defense and, thus, invalid.