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re: 'unintended' consequences

>Thanks for your comment. I dealt with your point under 3.,
>but let me clarify. An fully knowable unintended
>negative consequence is still not as morally objectionable
>as an intended negative consequence. To illustrate: you
>drive a car, knowing for certain that its emissions
>contribute to a higher death rate among your fellow
>citizens than if you did not drive your car. This is still
>not the same in intent as driving around with the aim of
>contributing to that higher death rate, even if it is the
>same in effect. The person who does the latter is morally
>worse, and we need to retain this distinction in order to
>be able to condemn such actions to a greater degree.

In what sense is a 'fully knowable' consequence 'unintended'? Surely what
matters, from a moral standpoint, are the *predictable consequences* of
one's actions, rather than one's 'intentions'. All too often the latter are
simply self-serving rationalisations for one's behaviour.

If I plant a car bomb, timed to explode when people are leaving a building,
in order to kill a particular individual, it doesn't cut any ice *morally*
for me to say that I only 'intended' to kill that one individual and that
anyone else killed is an 'unintended' victim of my actions. Similarly, if I
authorise the napalming of a village then, as far as morality is concerned,
it makes no difference if I protest that I only 'intended' to kill the
'insurgents' rather than 'ordinary' villagers.

If the terrorists who committed last week's horrific super-atrocities had
claimed that they only 'intended' to damage property and that any human
deaths were 'unintended', we would, I'm sure, treat this with the contempt
it deserves.

In all cases it would be obvious that the massive loss of life - over and
above that 'intended' - was a predictable consequence of the action in
question and, therefore, that those concerned were morally responsible for
these consequences.

The capacity for human beings to provide self-serving excuses for their own
crimes  - which I've no doubt they often believe themselves - should not be

Best wishes,


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