Originally posted by enterusernamenow on September 22, 2022 18:12
What do you think should have governed Cash’s actions?
I think, that fear and denial may have governed David Cash's actions. After reading Erez Yoeli and David Rand, “The Trick to Acting Heroically", I think I understand what makes a bystander a bystander. Often fear barriers our ability to rationally think and denial stops us from expecting the unexpected and taking immediate necessary action. Furthermore, Cash's aid would've had less provocative value for David himself. He saw no value in helping another (Sherrice) who he felt could not help him in return. There is absolutely no excuse for David Cash's action, he had plentiful time to think rationally, after assessing the situation and his options --- and he purposely chose to ignore the situation.
What obligations does a person who witnesses another wrong have? & Are there different rules depending on the nature of the “wrong”?
Morally, they have a responsibility to assess the wrong and try to right it by any means possible. Weather that be "snitching" on someone etc. Do note that I say one must "assess the wrong". I say this because as Ms. Freeman asked us in class: "What would you do if you saw a friend cheating on a test or stealing from a store"? To both questions admittedly I answered nothing. I would do nothing. But I think that anyone with sound moral compass (a weird thing to say as moral compasses are in some sense subjective) should take action against a wrong. In David Cash's case, there was an evident wrong. His best-friend admitted to murdering a little girl.
Can you identify what “rules”—legal or otherwise—ought to govern the decision to act or merely to witness.
There are some laws that govern our decisions in regards to acting and witnessing. For example, citizens arrest, good Samaritan laws, accessory, aiding and abiding, failure to report a crime, and laws against stealing etc. But, as far as the law goes, if we continue to criminalize individuals not directly responsible for an action, or a lack thereof action, we will only be incarcerating thousands more. There's so much nuance to law, and personally I believe that the last thing the US needs is a higher incarceration rate. Even here in MA, we (the SJC) are looking to rid our judicial principals of such harsh accessory laws. The issue of prosecuting a bystander for a poor discussions gets complicated when it comes to law, because --- the judgement would be less focused on simply their action(s) or lack thereof, but rather their subjective moral compass as well.
Do we have an obligation to act—sometimes, rarely, occasionally, always? Explain.
We have an obligation to act. I do not know how to generalize when we should act and when we shouldn't. The fact of the matter is, it should be a case by case basis with proper legal judgement. There are so many differing situations, generalizing them would be almost impossible. Hence why there's so much law in this country, ever changing laws as well. I think regardless however, we should try to be good Samaritans and take proactive action when it is painfully obvious we should. However As Judy Harris, “The Bystander Effect in the Cellphone Age,” points out, sometimes, it's difficult to define what action(s) condemn one to the title of a "bystander", even that may be subjective.
Enterusernamenow, I agree so much with what you've said. Especially in relation to your answering of the first question about what should have governed David Cash's actions - I definitely agree that fear played a large role, but I also think that other factors such as selfishness, and lack of morality also played a very important role in shaping his actions.
Also I think your answer to the question about rules that ought to govern was really interesting, I've never really thought of the large addition to unnecessary incarceration there would be. Great post!