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Hannah Maslen

Driving Crazy

There has been discussion on a Polish news site about an extreme case of reckless driving. The discussion is not about the driver – his culpability and stupidity are in no doubt – rather, the discussion is about whether the passengers in the car should be punished in some way for the role they played; their role not only in failing to calm the driver and his driving, but most importantly in their active and enthusiastic encouragement of him and it.

The video of the drive, taken from within the car and uploaded to YouTube, shows five and a half minutes of speeding through red lights, overtaking despite oncoming traffic, using the curb as a ramp to ‘get air’ and, most disturbingly, only narrowly missing a pedestrian crossing the road. All this is accompanied by encouraging whoops and shouts and exclamations of “Karol, you are my God!” (Karol is the driver.) The passengers clearly want – and ask – Karol to take more and more risks.Read More »Driving Crazy

Capturing Tragedy

When watching a news report on the recent tragedy in Colorado I was struck by the sight of people using mobile phones to film people leaving the cinema. The state of shock on the people’s faces and the freshness of the blood on their clothes signaled that the event was still unfolding. My first response was surprise that someone would think to start filming in the midst of such circumstances. My second was to wonder whether there were any grounds for objection. The particular video shown on the news was not very graphic, although the fear and confusion was tangible. There may have been more gruesome mobile videos from that day. So, I pose the following questions: is it OK to video horror as it unfolds? Might there even be good reasons to do so? What factors affect the answer to this question?Read More »Capturing Tragedy

Professional roles and private lives: How separate are they?

The Daily Mail likes to ‘out’ teachers as porn stars. It did so again last week. The standard response to the discovery that a teacher stars in adult films or ‘moonlights’ as a stripper is to sack him or her, even if (as in one case) two decades have elapsed since involvement in the adult entertainment industry. The thing is, as is frequently noted in these teachers’ defense, they haven’t done anything illegal. Moreover, what they were doing was done in their own time. So, what can be the justification for dismissal? Are they still in the role of teacher at home?

I think there are three possible avenues for justifying dismissal: character assessment, capacity to fulfill role, and duty to be a role model. Personally, I’m not sure if I am convinced by any of them and am keen to hear what you think.Read More »Professional roles and private lives: How separate are they?

‘Please drink responsibly’: voluntary intoxication and generating responsibilities

A scenario:

You are with a group of friends in a bar on a Friday night and one of them has had rather a lot to drink – much more than he usually does. He seems happy, despite slurring his words and taking a few moments to get his balance. But, as he slurs his goodbye at the door of the bar, it flashes through your mind that maybe you should walk him home. ‘Nah’, you think, ‘he’ll be fine’ – and he would certainly protest. Ten minutes later he stumbles and falls into the river and drowns. Did you have a duty to walk him home? What about the others in your group? Moreover, might that duty have been a legal one?


Read More »‘Please drink responsibly’: voluntary intoxication and generating responsibilities