Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Should inaction be considered as an action in any case?

  1. Jul 23, 2010 #1
    For cases like euthanasia, in some countries, the moral code is that doctors is not allowed to actively do anything to kill the patients. So they will not feed the patients who are in coma/vegetable state so as to let them starve to death, thus an inaction which is considered morally acceptable.

    So should inaction be considered as action in all cases or only in some cases and why?
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 26, 2010 #2
    I would say only inaction that has a reaction. But hopefully someone can expand a little more than I can on this
  4. Aug 26, 2010 #3


    User Avatar
    Gold Member

  5. Aug 28, 2010 #4
    consequences are more easily attributed to inaction where the capacity for some other action would influence the outcome. Likewise, I think you have to distinguish between inaction with intent to allow something else to occur and inaction where no such intent was present. Of course, people who intend for bad things to happen by doing nothing rarely if ever take credit for their inaction; but if the consequences of inaction are positive instead of negative, they will gladly accept the benefits. For example, if your friend told you to sell a particular stock and your computer crashed and the stock went up, you would gladly accept the difference in revenue as your commission; yet if it went down, would you gladly pay the difference or would you say that your computer crashed and so it wasn't your fault and you shouldn't have to pay?
  6. Sep 8, 2010 #5
    Insofar as the law is concerned, inaction is considered to have stronger penalties than action. A man witnessing a murder who does nothing is considered to be abetting the criminal and can be tried for second degree murder. From a philosophical standpoint, I would say that inaction requires just as much, if not more effort than action. Lie on the couch all day sometime and try to truly be inactive, you might find it next to impossible. I am not a religious man, but I think this is why sloth is considered a sin. Doing nothing( especially in the face of horrors) is the worst form of apathy. Just look at the holocaust, or Kitty Genovese, when man is inactive, it allows for the active to commit atrocities.
  7. Sep 9, 2010 #6
    Whenever inaction is a conscious choice, it should be considered an action. So in other words to choose not to decide is a choice.
  8. Sep 16, 2010 #7
    When deciding what's the right thing to do, we should consider them equivalent. But deeply rooted instincts often tell us otherwise.
  9. Sep 28, 2010 #8
    According to Church law food and fluids must be given. Check the case of Terry Schievo.
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook