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Skydiving Accident

April 1, 2011

When looking for what to write a post about, I began searching the news for a current event to relate to one of our political theorists. I found a site to the Perris, California news, which talked about a skydiving accident that occurred just yesterday afternoon.

Two skydiving instructors, Chris Stasky and Patrick McGowan, were killed after they collided midair and then fell somewhere between two hundred to three hundred feet.

This was their 6th skydiving adventure just of that day. These men were profession sky divers and were in the middle of conducting a military training session before they collided.

As I was reading this article, Mill’s ideals of experiments of living and the betterment of society came to my mind. I wondered what he would think of these two men and if he would think their actions benefited society without them being nuisances.

I believe Mill would have thought these two men played an active role in experiments of living. Although it lead to the lose of their lives, they skydived multiple times a day and taught others how to successfully skydive. These men lived on the edge and through this I feel they helped better society or at least through Mill’s perspective. They did not harm others by skydiving and therefore were not nuisances. They only harmed themselves, which taught the rest of society, in this case, what not to do in order to skydive and remain living. Mill would take these two men as great examples of bettering society through experiments of living.

3 Comments
  1. jasonkraman permalink
    April 3, 2011 12:48 PM

    As we are all aware of Mill is a Utilitarian and would asses most situations by looking at the net utility. In addition he is a proponent of the harm principle. Now, analyzing your post, I would like to comment on what I believe would be Mills perspective on sky diving. I would agree with you that these sky divers did not violate the harm principle by skydiving in general. Even if they risked their lives every time they skydived, they never before infringed upon the liberties of others and therefore the government should not be able to prohibit their skydiving. However, the second that one of the skydivers collided into another, the harm principle was violated. So, would Mill believe that the government can prohibit an institution like sky diving. I would say that Mill would allow the government to prohibit sky diving unless there was only one person in the air. That way, no one else would be harmed. However, Mill would be opposed to team skydiving or pair skydiving and allow the government to intervene and stop it because in that case the action of skydiving by one skydiver could harm another skydiver.

    However, I would like to disagree with you on the point that Mill would be a supporter of these skydivers and would applaud their actions. Through a utilitarian perspective, teaching others how to skydive results in minimal utility. Recreational skydiving serves little purpose other than pure pleasure. The possible negative utility from the death of a skydiver would seem to outweigh any fun that would be achieved through learning how to skydive and eventually skydiving. So, I think although Mill would allow skydiving based on the fact that it usually passes the harm principle, I think he would be critical of it because of its great risk and the lack of actual good that comes from skydiving.

  2. lexifader permalink
    April 3, 2011 6:48 PM

    I would have to disagree that Mill would applaud the skydivers for their actions, and I’d also go as far as to say that Mill would completely disapprove of the action of skydiving. Mill states that each person has the natural right to do what they want, say what they want, and act in the manner that they want as long as it does not harm or become a nuisance to other people. He says “That the only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilized community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others.” The risk of skydiving would rank amongst the highest degree of harm-death. On the surface, it seems that the skydiving is in fact extremely dangerous and harmful but only to the skydiver. But as Mill says a person cannot exist in total isolation and from that I argue that even if a person has no friends or family, any action that could result in death of a human life is going to negatively effect at least one person. If skydiving was a common practice during Mill’s lifetime I think he would be one of the firsts to shoot it down and conclude that the net utility is far too dangerous to even attempt.

  3. August 22, 2011 7:33 PM

    As skydiving causes harm to others through the nuisance of noise and loss of privacy and amenity to residents in a wide area around a drop zone, it is clear that Mill would not have approved or sanctioned this activity. As there are campaigns against skydiving from the USA to Australia because it causes a public nuisance, skydiving is neither civilized, nor necessary.

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