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  1. #1
    ^He pronks, too! Magic Poriferan's Avatar
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    Question Does intoxication grant unaccountability? (an extensive ethical theory)

    My answer to the question of this topic would be a resounding no.

    What I am referring to is the concept that being under the influence of alcohol (though this probably applies to other drugs, logically speaking) partially reduces or completely removes ones accountability for their actions.

    I have heard this theory thrown around quite often. People argue that they or someone else should be cut slack simply because they were drunk at the time they did something. I have a friend who at least partially believes in this theory.

    But what's really the most amazing example of the theory is this: One time, a piss drunk guy in a bar tried to stab my ENTJ friend in the neck with a knife. He raised his hand in time to get stabbed in the hand instead of the neck, but that still sucks. Well, this turned into a small court case, and the assailant basically attempted murder, by trying to stab my friend in the neck. But his charges were watered way down, to the point that he was treated like a man that crashed into telephone poll while drunk. He was treated as someone that risked committing manslaughter, not some that attempted murder. The reasoning behind this, was that he was so drunk at the time, that he could not be found fully accountable for his actions. Imagine that! Getting drunk actually makes you less guilty of things!

    I find this notion threateningly irresponsible, and I find it both ethically and logically unsound. I will put forward what I consider five fundamental qualifiers for accountability. The first four are all basic pillars of accountability, and so you are more accountable for each one that is true in your situation. The fifth one is a special rule about presumption. This is a lengthy description of ethical principles, so you be prepared. Here they are:

    Was it in your power to unilaterally avert the particular action/event and its consequences? If yes, you are more accountable.

    This is the most basic and obvious rule of accountability.

    Were there plausible alternatives to your course of action that would have resulted in less detriment than the course you chose? If yes, you are more accountable.

    This is to account for a situation where, as an extreme example, someone was threatening to kill you if you didn't follow orders. You might do something bad, but we can all cut you a little slack if your plausible alternatives were even worse. But, if you could have very likely done something not as bad as what you chose to do, you are more accountable.

    Did you have sufficient knowledge of the nature of your actions and what their consequences might be? If yes, you are more accountable.

    The classic case of pleading ignorance. Sometimes in law, ignorance cannot be an excuse, but in most ethical philosophy it is. If you were not aware of what you were doing, then there is not sufficient grounds to assume that you had sinister intent, and you may be a perfectly good and useful person who just needs a little education. But if you did have knowledge of consequences, you are guilty, because you acted with intent to do something even as you acknowledged the harm it would do. You chose to do wrong.

    Did you have sufficient knowledge of better and easier alternatives to your course of action? If yes, you are more accountable.

    Sort of a counter-part to the second question, and a little modifier for the third. Maybe you chose to do something with knowledge of the ways in which your actions were wrong, but you only did it because you were not aware of better plausible alternatives. In the other words, this is like believing that someone would kill you if you didn't follow orders, when in fact, nobody would. If you were misinformed about this, then you get some slack for the same reasons as the previous rule. If you weren't, then you are guilty, are for the same reasons as the previous rule.

    So those are the four basic pillars. and if you can say yes to all of them, you are 100% accountable. But there is then the fifth rule, which addresses the third and fourth rules.

    Do others have the right to presume your knowledge?

    In other words, if you try to cite the third and fourth rules to say "I didn't know, have mercy!", I will check to see if I have the right to presume your knowledge. If I have grounds to presume that you should have known, the ignorance defense is severely weakened, as it increases the likelihood that you are a liar or someone that ignores important information, and both make you more guilty in some way.


    So, having given my lengthy breakdown of what I believe are the basics of accountability, I will argue that in the vast majority of cases (though there are exception to all of my following rules) people are completely accountable for their actions when intoxicated.

    Rule 1: A person could have avoided getting drunk by simply declining to drink. Had they not been drunk in the first place, they would not have done the stupid, harmful things that they do while drunk.

    Rule 2: It doesn't really cost anything to not drink. It's easier in every way, less costly in every sense. So, in other words, there were better plausible alternatives to getting drunk.

    For rules 3 and 4, I cite rule 5. You damn well should know what the consequences are of getting drunk, and that there are safer, easy alternatives. This is especially true if you have already been drunk in the past. You have experienced it first hand, and you should not only know the effect it has on most all people, but you should be aware of the specific way that it makes you behave. Therefore, if you have ever been drunk, I have the right to presume your knowledge, and so discount and possible use of rules 3 and 4 as a defense.

    So it follows, that the person who does something wrong as a result of being drunk, is only drunk because they voluntarily chose to become drunk, in spite of safer easy alternatives, and they did so with full knowledge of what might potentially or even probably happen if they get drunk.

    They are 100% accountable for all their actions that result from intoxication.
    __________________________________________

    So, I'd like to thank anyone that bothers to read through that whole thing. I hope you found my elaboration on accountability interesting.

    I've made my case about the accountability of the intoxicated, so if you believe you have a counter argument, I would love to hear it.
    Go to sleep, iguana.


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    Live and let live will just amount to might makes right

  2. #2
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    Here's the way I see the case. He should be accountable for what he did, which seems to be assault with a deadly weapon. Murder sober is murder drunk, but attempted murder sober is much worse than attempted murder drunk.

  3. #3
    veteran attention whore Jeffster's Avatar
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    No. When you get intoxicated, you make yourself into a deadly weapon. I think if you kill someone driving drunk, you should get life in prison. No second chance. Nothing pisses me off more than murderers going free because of the intoxication excuse.
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  4. #4
    ^He pronks, too! Magic Poriferan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jack Flak View Post
    Here's the way I see the case. He should be accountable for what he did, which seems to be assault with a deadly weapon. Murder sober is murder drunk, but attempted murder sober is much worse than attempted murder drunk.
    I suppose this is based on the idea that a person's character is worse if they would attempt murder in a fully lucid state? If so, I can understand what you are getting at. However, as you say, he should be tried for what he did. Should there be any difference in sentencing based on whether he was or wasn't drunk?

    My opinion is that the situation shows the man is violent and unpredictable when druink. The fact that he is not necessarily so when sober doesn't give me much solace. It's because the guy apparently likes to drink, and will probably be drinking again many more times in his laugh, so he will return to that killer state of mind again and again. The fact that needs to be drunk to be a murderer merely adds one extra step to the process, and it's a step he's very likely to take.

    EDIT: And aside from all this attempted murder stuff, let's remember that I am trying to apply my reasoning even to much more petty acts committed while drunk. There might be more willingness to debate that.
    Go to sleep, iguana.


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  5. #5
    Senior Member prplchknz's Avatar
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    I'm less likely to kill someone drunk than sober. If I'm boiling mad, it's usually when I'm sober but after a few drinks nothing bothers me. Sure I'm probably repressing, but the point is if I really don't like you and we have to hang out, it's probably to your advantage to get me drunk.

    so no I don't think intoxication can be used as an excuse,
    In no likes experiment.

    that is all

    i dunno what else to say so

  6. #6
    No moss growing on me Giggly's Avatar
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    No, of course not, but suppose if someone else had gotten him drunk without his knowledge or even drugged him without his knowledge and he did the same thing? Does that change your opinion?

  7. #7
    Senior Member prplchknz's Avatar
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    i can some what see the getting drugged part, but being drunk part? was someone pouring vodka down his throat while asleep?
    In no likes experiment.

    that is all

    i dunno what else to say so

  8. #8
    ^He pronks, too! Magic Poriferan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hmm View Post
    No, of course not, but suppose if someone else had gotten him drunk without his knowledge or even drugged him without his knowledge and he did the same thing? Does that change your opinion?
    It would not be the same thing, because the person does not technically qualify for the third rule. If they are being secretly intoxicated, then they do not realize that they are drinking alcohol in whatever it is they are drinking, so they do not posess sufficient knowledge for accountability.

    That being said, I don't imagine this happens often. How could someone not notice the alcohol if they were drinking enough to be substantially drunk? Never the less, I did note that there were rare exceptions to each of assertions about getting drunk.
    Go to sleep, iguana.


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  9. #9
    perdu fleur par bologne Martoon's Avatar
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    Yeah, this issue has always bugged me. Not just acts of physical injury, but even saying/doing obnoxious things when drunk. It just seems absurdly silly to me that anyone should be any less accountable for anything when intoxicated (unless, as mentioned, they were somehow intoxicated without their knowledge and/or consent). If you do things, when drunk, that come at a cost to other people - then you don't get to drink. It's just stupid to think that I could willfully get myself into a state that makes me more inclined to do something, then do it, and that somehow gets me off the hook. If I wanted to run you down in my car, could I drain my brake fluid, lock my steering wheel, then get a run at you? "But Your Honor, I couldn't stop. I had just drained my brake fluid." (And yes, I know that's not a proper analogy, unless someone got drunk with the specific intent of using it as a defense for a premeditated act. But it still illustrates my point about the responsibility dependency chain.)

    Though prplchknz brings up an interesting point:
    Quote Originally Posted by prplchknz View Post
    I'm less likely to kill someone drunk than sober. If I'm boiling mad, it's usually when I'm sober but after a few drinks nothing bothers me.
    If someone were less inclined to do damaging things when drunk, would they have a responsibility to stay drunk?
    I'm not a procrastinator. I'm a long-term planner.

  10. #10
    ^He pronks, too! Magic Poriferan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Martoon View Post
    Though prplchknz brings up an interesting point:

    If someone were less inclined to do damaging things when drunk, would they have a responsibility to stay drunk?
    That requires meticulous cost-benefit analysis. You're going to have crunch all kinds of details to figure out if it less destructive overall for the person to be constantly drunk than it would be for the person to be sober. This also requires you to determine whether or not there are less destructive alternatives to being drunk that are just as effective at removing the person's damaging behavior.
    Go to sleep, iguana.


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    INTP. Type 1>6>5. sx/sp.
    Live and let live will just amount to might makes right

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