Definitions Can Be Murder
February 1, 2008 § 20 Comments
Inspired by this discussion, I propose the following understanding of a category of acts which are always murder. This understanding is not intended to encompass all possible kinds of murder, but merely to define a category of acts which are definitely always murder. (This is just a proposal for the sake of discussion, though I wouldn’t propose it if I didn’t think it had legs).
If it is the case that:
(1) I am choosing a particular behavior B, an act I carry out myself with my body[*], which
(2) Knowingly kills a particular person P whom I can specifically identify, where
(3) P is not engaged in or preparing to engage in some kind of willful attacking or harmful behavior, and
(4) P has not ever in his entire existence engaged in or prepared to engage in some kind of willful attacking behavior, and
(5) I am morally certain that in the ordinary course of events P will not die if I do not do B, that is, P is not in the process of dying unless I do B,
THEN my act is definitely an act of murder.
[*] Note that if someone else performs the act and I formally cooperate with that act – that is, I will that it be done and perhaps charter another person to do it – then I am still formally guilty of murder, much as if I had hired a hit man.