A Thought Experiment on Moral Culpability

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This is the development of a thought experiment that I took part in coming up with on a fourm a while back. Consider the following three hypothetical situations:

1. Person A (who we can call Albert), for reasons unbeknownst to us, intends to blow up a school and kill thousands of students.

Person B (who we can call Bob) hates Albert because Albert picked on Bob when they were kids. Bob, completely unaware of Albert's plot to blow up the school, stumbles upon Albert about to set off the bombs hidden in the school. Motivated completely by his own hatred, Bob pulls a gun on Albert and intends to shoot him.

Person C (who we can call Cedric) is a bystander who realizes that Albert is about to blow up the school and that Bob is about to shoot and kill Albert for completely unrelated (but equally unjustified) reasons. It just so turns out that Bob highly respects and likes Cedric; in fact Cedric is the only person whose advice Bob would willingly follow, simply because he trusts and looks up to Cedric. Cedric, having no time to physically disarm either man or call the police, has two options: say nothing and allow Bob to shoot/murder Albert for hateful reasons, or ask him not to and thus allow Albert to set off the bombs in the school, killing thousands of students. Cedric chooses to say nothing, Bob shoots and murders Albert before Albert sets off the bombs, and the school is saved.

2. This situation is very similar to the first one, except in this case, Cedric has seen Albert about to blow up the school and has run out of the room to look for help. While running around, he stumbles upon Bob, who is looking for Albert to shoot and kill him. Once again, with no time to disarm Bob, Cedric has two options: tell Bob where Albert is or say nothing. In order to prevent Albert from blowing up the school, Cedric tells Bob where Albert is. Bob proceeds to walk in on Albert about to set the bombs off, where he shoots and kills him, preventing the deaths of thousands of students.

3. The third hypothetical is also similar to the first two situations except for one main difference: Bob does not hate Albert at all, but is rather good friends with him. Upon seeing what Albert is about to do, Cedric once again runs away looking for help, where he stumbles upon Bob who happens to have a gun. Cedric attempts to explain what Albert is about to do, but Bob does not believe him- how could his friend ever do anything like that? In fact, Bob is so disgusted by what Cedric is accusing his friend of, that he refuses to even see Albert to find out the truth. Luckily, Cedric has his trusty mind-controlling device which he built for this years science fair (and won first place at nationals, I might add). He has the following two options this time: use his mind control device on Bob to make him find Albert and shoot him before the bombs go off, or do nothing. He chooses the former, thus directly controlling Bob to shoot and kill Albert, preventing the explosions that could have killed thousands of students.

In which of these scenarios in Cedric morally responsible for the murder of Albert? In which of these scenarios is he not morally responsible? What is the difference between them and is that difference significant? If so, why?

The consequences of this thought experiment can be applied in two different ways. The first is regarding human morality, and is pretty well explained by the questions above. The second, regards God's relationship to the decisions of men. There are varying theories on God's sovereignty and Divine Providence, which might each see God's relationship with man's choices similar to one of the above hypothetical situations. An Arminian might say that God does not prevent men from making free decisions which He disagrees with, but also uses them to further His plan (Scenario 1). A Molinist might say that God plays an active role in putting men in situations where their free choices would further his sovereign plan (Scenario 2). Lastly, a Calvinist might say that God actively determines that men would execute certain actions which will further His sovereign plan. Our intuitions about moral culpability and free will often seem to play a key role in our understanding of God's sovereignty. It is important that whatever position we hold to, we have good reasons beyond simple intuition to warrant our beliefs. In the future, I will explain each of these positions further as explicated in the book Four Views of Divine Providence.
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