What brought up this question:
- I was watching a television show and was thinking of how powerful individuals can obtain hired guns to do their dirty work. The police and legal system then has difficulty arresting the person who set the crimes in motion.
Expanding on the question:
- I believe the example and hypothetical of killing with bare hands vs a rube goldberg killing machine is very useful here.
- To take it to the extreme as another example, what is the reasoning for political leaders being responsible for decisions they make. Mao Zedong and Hitler may not work since they actually personally did immoral things. I am thinking, say, current US president Joe Biden (a reasonably moral person far from literal evil) being jailed years later for a key decision on climate change that somehow led to deaths. (But climate change might be a bad example, since that is partially a collective problem)
- Perhaps it need not be illegal and immoral effects, it can be about prosperous as well. Nor need it specifically be about persons. How can we reasonably pin a phenomena for being the true or primary cause for something? Such a constraint relaxation helps so that concepts from philosophy of science or metaphysics might be able to lend something here.
- I suppose my issue is just understanding how anything other than doing things directly with your own personal hands and body is reasoned to be caused by you. A related matter might be the various thought done on how technology and tools are extensions of the mind and body (whereby language is also a shared 'tool').
- I'm giving a lot of examples, but only because I am trying to exemplify the question. That's not really the focus the answers should have though. I was curious about the philosophy and reasoning behind the question.
What this question is not focused on:
- The psychology, or biology, of moral responsbility to the degree that we are in control of our actions. Such as the mentally ill, etc.
- Current laws or legal theory. As we learned 2000+ years ago, what is popular or instantiated in society is not necessarily what is true.