here), from “Laura”:, the current author of the Times Magazine “The Ethicist” column and the first proprietor who is an actual ethicist, devoted a whole column this weekend to exploring a variant on the duty to rescue, via this question, which I have redacted a bit (you can read the whole question
I went to a bar that was playing live music and sat at a table very close to the band. A young woman noticed an empty seat at our table and asked if she could join us. She was friendly, intelligent and also clearly drunk, slurring words and feeling no pain. She came in alone.
Right beside her was a musician in the band. He wasn’t needed in all the songs, so he was free to chat quite a bit, and you could see there was chemistry between him and Kim, but they had not met before. Kim left to use the restroom and when she returned, the musician was with her, carrying her drink. Around 11 p.m., my companion and I were ready to call it a night. We said our goodbyes and left. I’ve thought a lot about if I should have done something. Perhaps it’s because of #MeToo,but I felt uncomfortable leaving Kim there so drunk and alone. Should I have said something to the bartenders? They were so busy and not really able to watch over the customers. I would like to think that under normal circumstances they would have made sure she got in an Uber by herself (and not with a stranger), or at least would have made sure she didn’t leave with someone against her will. But was she too drunk to give consent? Should I have said something to her, like, “Are you going to be O.K. getting home?” She didn’t appear to be anywhere close to wanting to go home. she was of legal age. Should I have said something to the musician, who seemed like a decent man? have allowed myself the fantasy that he knew she was drunk, made sure she got home safely and did not take advantage of her, but instead took her phone number and checked on her the next day. What was the right thing for me to do in this situation?
The Ethicist devotes the entire column to this query, as if there is a real ethical dilemma here. In my opinion, there is not. “Laura” is suffering from ideological misandry, and presuming the young woman, whom she agrees is an adult, is in peril simply because she is in proximity to a man. He has done nothing to justify such fears. Moreover, the young woman has made the choice to get drunk in a locale where getting drunk is normal behavior. She deserves her autonomy, and the presumption that, as an adult, she can take care of herself….just like the musician she was talking to. The young woman’s social interactions are none of Laura’s business. It is not up to Laura to determine whether the young woman is capable of consent–and consent to what? Sex? Rape? In the absence of witnessing anything out of the ordinary or legitimately sinister except for Laura’s unjustified bias against men (or maybe musicians), she has no reason to impute bad intentions to the musician, or to assume helpless potential victim status for the woman.
This is where feminism is steeped in hypocrisy. I am woman, hear me roar, I ‘m as good as any man, but we are also poor little lambs and vulnerable victims that need constant protection from the big, bad world. Women want choices and control over their bodies, but the young woman’s choice to perhaps put too much alcohol ins hers at a bar requires intervention from older, wiser, good Samaritans. No. The woman is accountable for her conduct. As are we all. There is no duty to rescue when there is no genuine threat.
Appiah devotes almost a thousand words to this question—956, to be precise. He only needed five.
“You did the right thing.”
Hey, but I’m just AN ethicist, not “The Ethicist”…maybe I’m wrong. Your poll: