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Intention vs. Outcome

Discussion in 'Interfaith Dialogues' started by Neutral Singh, Aug 11, 2004.

  1. Neutral Singh

    Neutral Singh
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    Jun 1, 2004
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    I recently came accross this interesting passage...

    Let’s say your neighbor won’t return the lawnmower he borrowed from you and you’re very angry. You decide to kill him. You go to the store and purchase a handgun, wait patiently through whatever background checks and waiting period there might be, and take the gun home. You study your neighbor’s schedule and habits for a couple weeks and determine he’s always at home alone watching the tube at 8 p.m. on Tuesday night because the wife has Tuesdays out with the girls. So this Tuesday night you sneak into his house with your new gun, walk into his living room, blast two shots into his chest, and run back home. After grabbing your lawnmower, of course.

    Someone heard the shots and called 911. The squad comes within minutes and rushes your neighbor to the hospital, where they do some emergency surgery.

    Meanwhile dummy, you dropped your wallet on the floor when you pulled your lawnmower out of his garage, and the cops have you cuffed and in jail before you can blink your eyes. Tough break.

    OK—for those of you who waited through this story to hear the debate—

    Under U.S. law, you’ll be at the edge of your seat waiting to hear whether your neighbor lives or dies. Your neighbor's dumb luck will determine your fate. If he dies, you’ll be convicted of murder and likely serve a life term or maybe even get the death penalty. If he lives, you won’t be charged with murder, just attempted murder. You’ll get out of prison eventually.

    My questions:
    You committed the crime, but your penalty may rest on the surgical skills of some other guy. Does that make sense? Why the hell is the penalty different just because the ambulance is prompt and a good surgeon saves this guy?
    If intention to kill can be proven, shouldn’t the penalty be the same as for murder? Should a murderous but inept person (e.g., poor aim) receive a lighter sentence?

    Is intention vs. outcome handled the same in other countries?

    Interested in your views….
    Mine are probably obvious…
    #1 Neutral Singh, Aug 11, 2004
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 18, 2005
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  3. Eclectic

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    Nov 11, 2004
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    I think this would prove to be an interesting discussion. I'm very curious what others' thoughts are on the matter as well. :)
  4. etinder

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    Jul 26, 2004
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    i guess i shud be the first one to take a stand here.:) i feel strongly for intention, no matter what's the outcome.
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