God knows why, but I’m still pondering issues of consent (though why what follows is relevant in this respect might not be immediately clear). Here’s another thought experiment.
It’s the evening of the Christmas office party. You know that you’re going to be drinking, and you know that this will inevitably impair your judgement, so you leave your car at home and travel to the venue by public transport. It is relevant here that part of your thinking in doing so is not wanting to risk the possibility that at the end of the evening in a moment of alcoholic induced madness you’ll attempt to drive yourself home.
The evening is a blast, and you drink a lot, which would not be a problem, except your partner shows up at the party, and hands you the keys to your car, saying they’d had to borrow it because their own car wouldn’t start, and that your car is in the parking lot outside. Your partner then rushes off to catch a bus to the airport for an overnight flight.
At this point, you’ve easily drunk enough so that your judgement is significantly impaired. It’s a cold night, you don’t fancy waiting around to catch a cab, plus your car is just outside the front door, so you decide to drive home.
Unfortunately, on your way home, a child steps in front of your car, you’re not able to stop in time (partly because your reactions are impaired by the alcohol you’ve consumed), and you run the child down.
These things are true:
a) You are not blasé about the dangers of drink driving. Your sober self would judge drink driving – regardless of its outcome – to be a significant wrong;
b) If it had been possible for your sober self to make a judgement on behalf of your drunk self then you would never have got into the car;
c) At the point at which you were given your keys, and told your car was just outside, you were already a long way past the point at which your judgement was significant impaired.
The question is – in this situation are you morally culpable for driving under the influence and (therefore) the accident?
Okay, my hunch is that people will say that “Yes, I am culpable”, but… I’m not sure that this judgement will make much sense without invoking some sort of “ideal-type” rational actor who given the same level of intoxication would not have made the decision to drive home.
Over to you. (If you’re not too busy doing Christmas-type things.)