Bob is drunk and driving too fast on rain-slicked streets. He runs a red light and doesn’t even see Belinda, a pedestrian who is crossing the street. He hits her and she dies.
Bob is drunk and driving too fast on rain-slicked streets. He runs a red light. Belinda, a pedestrian, is about to cross the street. Luckily she spots Bob’s speeding car in time and remains on the curb. She lives. Bob doesn’t even see her.
Bob’s behavior is identical in the two scenarios, and the difference in outcome is due to something completely outside of Bob’s control: whether Belinda spots his car in time.
Questions for discussion
1. In moral terms, is Bob equally blameworthy in both scenarios, or does his culpability depend on the outcome?
2. The legal system will punish Bob far more harshly in the first scenario than in the second. Is this appropriate?
Justify your answers.