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Risky Behavior

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In reading the topic Should duels be legal?, while watching Tokyo Drift (perhaps a bad combination), it's not unlikely to notice similarities amongst the two events. With that being said, I'd like this topic to discuss the morality/legality/rationality of risky behavior such as dueling and street racing. I intend this to be much more general than the dueling thread mentioned previously, and would like to generalize and formalize broad criteria for when these behaviors are and are not legally permissible in the context of a society with a strictly objective law.

To introduce the subject, there are risky behaviors such as drug use, alcohol use, and even smoking which do not in any way directly initiate force on another individual. It clearly should not be illegal to participate in these activities for that reason. These events may, in some circumstances, be the basis of illegal behavior (such as drinking and driving) wherein others lives are threatened; likewise they may be, in other circumstances, necessary for survival (such as the use of medicinal marijuana).

I am not primarily concerned with the discussion of those personal risky behaviors, I am interested in discussing the situations wherein an individual consents to participate in risky behavior with another individual, free from coercion. Although, these events may be useful in getting to the heart of the discussion. Specifically, how does consent affect risky behavior with regard to agreements and contracts?

The following is a clarification of what I meant by "objective criteria". My initial stance is that if two individuals 1) both consent to participate in risky behavior such as dueling or street racing, 2) they consent without any external coercion or outside influence of any kind, and 3) it is demonstrated that they both fully knew and agree to the stipulations of the specific nature of the event at both the time of agreement and time of the event (the two may be the same), then it should not be illegal to participate (within objective limitations) in that activity so long as a non-consenting individual's rights are violated. In short, if all conditions are met, you may proceed. Moreover, this does not imply that it is ever practical to participate in these activities. Also, the morality of the event would be dependent upon the context, as these are events which may potentially lead to the loss of life.

I'd like to extend this discussion to contain similarities between these behaviors and those such as boxing, sword fighting, gambling, jousting, etc., as it may provide insight into the nature of this situation. In addition, I also believe that the concept of suicide is vital in discussing this topic.

The crux of this thread is this: what objective criteria exists to determine the legal criteria of risky behaviors? What are the limits of this criteria?

Thank you for your time,


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