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Monday, April 16, 2012
Dangers of consequentialism

Here is a nice discussion of the problem of consequentialism in the enforcement of the rules limiting hockey violence. As the author shows, the only way to understand wildly varying punishments in four cases arising in the NHL playoffs is that suspensions were meted out where someone was injuredand weren't imposed when no one was injured, even though the conduct and intent in the non-injury cases may have been worse.

I don't believe the piece goes far enough in condemning consequentialist punishment, however. Yes, the egg-shell plaintiff rule says you are responsible for even-unanticipated harms of your wrongful conduct. But it doesn't define the wrongfulness of the conduct. That is, a non-negligent act does not become negligent because of an egg-shell victim. So smashing a player's face into the glass is not less illegal because that player is uninjured. The focus on consequences and injuries misses that point.


Alfredsson missed more of the game because there was more of the game to miss.

Zetterberg didn't because he couldn't.

Shanny has just made the 19:57 rule--start a fight with reduced consequences, because that 82/7th of a game is over.

Not to mention, as I believe Scott Lemieux noted, that it incents teams to report the status of players more ambiguously.


Blogger Ken Houghton -- 4/16/2012 4:20 PM  

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