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Academic argument over concepts of 'guilt' in law after an aviation accident

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Academic argument over concepts of 'guilt' in law after an aviation accident

Old 7th Oct 2007, 12:28
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Academic argument over concepts of 'guilt' in law after an aviation accident

To take your second example: most drunk drivers get home safely. In fact, I'm guessing that something on the order of only one in ten thoiusand drunk driving sectors ends with anything but an arrival at home.


If you want to get causality and correlations of drunk driving with car accidents you have to get a proportion of drunk drivers rides in which the drivers are killed themselves (and/or take the opportunity to kill others) from the whole number of drunk driver rides.

Then you have to compair it with the proportion you get of "all within the rules" accidents (i.e, excluding drunk driver AND OTHER ACCIDENT HIGHLY CORRELATED CAUSES) to the whole number of "all within the rules" car rides.

It works... Believe me !!
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Old 7th Oct 2007, 20:45
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3Ten
You cannot call it a cause, there are thousands of landings in that rwy that are not accidents.

In my last post, I spoke about causes, but I suggested that the correct term should be factors, because I consider the word cause misleading. Moreover, for 3Ten and others, with reference to the Aristotelian schema, the true cause is only the efficient one (i.e. a cause that should be a direct action). Following this way of thinking, in the case of the SR111, for example, the electrical arc in the IES faulty cable was “the” cause, and every other issue (flammable blankets, circuit breakers, inadequate standards for material flammability, etc. ) only “contributing factors”, because “there are thousands of flights” operated by MD11 without problems. As stated correctly by PBL, this argument is fallacious, like Hume pointed out some centuries ago.

PK-KAR

The primary cause is the primary cause which made the occurence an EVENT. Whether the event is an accident or an incident, is a different matter.

The fact that a plane does a safe landing is without doubt an event. PK-KAR, could you please state which is the primary cause of this event?



Aviadornovato

As a consequence of PBL's theories:
A murderer should not be punished... Without the life he took from the guy he killed there wouldn't be that specific murder...
It is an elementary thing that even children do - correlate things and weigh the importance of an event in the materialization of another one -
This is how science is done by the way. It is the essence of the scientific method.

I think that Aviadornovato is speaking of a curious type of science. Firstly, it is acknowledged in all research fields that correlation doesn’t by itself show the direction of causality; second, it needs to be stressed that there is a big difference between legal judgements and models trying to explain the reality i.o. to improve the reliability of some procedures. In particular, in the latter there is no space for the concept of guilt, since the most important objective is to implement some important features for the safety of the people concerned by aviation transport. Sincerely, I wonder that anything like what occurred at CGH didn’t take place before, because actually the fact isn’t only that the runway is short, but that at his end there are a lot of buildings. It is important to create EMAS, but the question of the presence of phisical obstacles near the end of the runways deserves some more attention. Beside the question of primary and secundary causes, that is in fact not much useful, at least if the aim is safety, it is out of doubt that whatever improvement will be done should concern not only the particular event at CGH, but similar others, too: in fact they are not only A320 with TL in the wrong position that overrun runways.
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Old 7th Oct 2007, 21:54
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I think that Aviadornovato is speaking of a curious type of science. Firstly, it is acknowledged in all research fields that correlation doesn’t by itself show the direction of causality; second, it needs to be stressed that there is a big difference between legal judgements and models trying to explain the reality i.o. to improve the reliability of some procedures. In particular, in the latter there is no space for the concept of guilt, since the most important objective is to implement some important features for the safety of the people concerned by aviation transport.
Guilt, if any in the case, is a legal consequence of causality. Of course a "cause" could imply in someone being guilty or not.

There might be concurrent causes. If a given fact was necessary or contributed to the event AND if it was reasonable to expect that a given individual took specific actions against the materialization of that fact AND we find out that those actions weren't taken then we have guilt in the case.

As to the "causes" of a given event in the context of the scientific method I will keep stating that correlation is key ... Without correlation you can't associate a given fact, state or circumstance to the peculiarities of a given event. No ´specific correlation, no causality, or, at least, no practical, no useful determination of causality.

The same applies in any technical field including accident investigations.

Or are we going to start saying that the A320 overran that runway thanks to Lilienthal, the Wright Brothers, Santos Dumont, Bleriot and others ?

Last edited by aviadornovato; 7th Oct 2007 at 22:49.
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Old 8th Oct 2007, 11:18
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That shows a confused understanding of the law. "Guilt" is a concept of the criminal law. It is obviously not the case that establishment of causality in, say, civil cases, has as a consequence that somebody has committed a criminal act.
THIS show a confused understanding of law.
Guilt, in the broader sense, is the premiss for liability, not liability itself, and simply means a breach of conduct.

This statement does not make sense. "Guilt" is not a concept which stands alone. One is "guilty of" something, where that something is proscribed by the law. I think what you are talking about here is the concept of "negligence", namely you are talking about someone being accused of some form of negligence ("gross negligence" is a criminal act in U.K. law, for example, but negligence is not) and being, for example in U.K. law, "guilty of gross negligence".
Guilt is a broader concept. Maybe in commom-law countries it is not frequently used in civil cases. But as I said, it simply means someone being deemed to have a breach of conduct. So your thoughts here start from the wrong premiss.

Of course you need a trial and you have to determine causality and whether the fact is proscribed by law to bring consequences or not. This is obvious and I am not discussing it


"Correlation" is a word used of phenomena in repeated events. That phenomenon A correlates with phenomenon B means that in many events, A and B do not occur independently of one another. In contrast, an accident is a unique event. One is best advised to use a concept of causality that does not depend completely on correlation.
If you deny correlation you deny causality.
No correlation to an event, no "cause" within the broader context.

Last edited by aviadornovato; 8th Oct 2007 at 11:38.
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Old 8th Oct 2007, 12:04
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guilty or not guilty,

that is the question
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Old 8th Oct 2007, 14:33
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PK-KAR WHAT?? Am I understanding it right? You're beeing argumentative, I would risk to say that you won't get many feedback form pilots here.


My statement was deliberately provocative. You speak of events, with the particular meaning given in aviation to this term, as outputs of circumstances where some processes are not occurring in the foreseen order and form, and where some fault was “the root cause”. But I remember you that, from another point of view, as stated in the Webster dictionary, “
an event occurs at a point in time which can be distinguished because the state of the world changed. Something was different before and after the event". Your definition of event is therefore a subset of this more general one. From this standpoint, every successful landing is by itself an event with no absolute causes, but the concurrence of factors with different weight and reciprocal relationships.
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Old 9th Oct 2007, 07:03
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* he misunderstands the legal concept of guilt, which contrary to what he says is not a "legal consequence of causality",

I will answer just because you are insisting on this, although I know my post will probably be deleted. And it is really an innopropriate place to discuss this kind of subject.

But anyway:

guilt in a broader sense is, along with other meanings, a breach of conduct.

In continental law systems guilt is a term used both in criminal and civil cases (with a distinction between intention - dolus - and "culpa strictu sensu" in criminal cases), in common-law systems it is more common to see the term used in criminal cases, although technically guilt is also a necessary step in almost all civil cases (putting aside objective liability).

Ok, let us say that in many cases guilt is a consequence of causality. Not in all cases.

In the examples I gave YES guilt is a legal consequence of causality as without the act or ommission being a cause of something one is being accused of being "guilty" there isn't that specific breach of conduct (or wrongful conduct) although there might still be another one.

Example:

1 - The drunk driver that causes an accident when some other people die.

For him to be guilty of killing those other people our dear prosecutor has to prove that the accused being drunk while driving was the cause of the accident.

2- The drunk drive being accused of .... driving while drunk

In this case you don't need causality.

There are some wrongful conducts that are expressed in themselves...You don't need the results... Others demand a result - murder, for instance. And then guilt is a consequence of a relation of causality between the accused's ommission or action AND the circumstance which he is being accused of being guilty of.


Maybe this became clear now...
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Old 9th Oct 2007, 07:05
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* he misunderstands the legal concept of guilt, which contrary to what he says is not a "legal consequence of causality",

I will answer just because you are insisting on this, although I know my post will probably be deleted. And it is really an innapropriate place to discuss this kind of subject.

But anyway:

guilt in a broader sense is, along with other meanings, a breach of conduct.

In continental law systems guilt is a term used both in criminal and civil cases (with a distinction between intention - dolus - and "culpa strictu sensu" in criminal cases), in common-law systems it is more common to see the term used in criminal cases, although technically guilt is also a necessary step in almost all civil cases (putting aside objective liability).

Ok, let us say that in many cases guilt is a consequence of causality. Not in all cases.

In the examples I gave YES guilt is a legal consequence of causality as without the act or ommission being a cause of something one is being accused of being "guilty" there isn't that specific breach of conduct (or wrongful conduct) although there might still be another one.

Example:

1 - The drunk driver that causes an accident in which some other people die.

For him to be guilty of killing those other people our dear prosecutor has to prove that the accused being drunk while driving was the cause of the accident.

2- The drunk driver being accused of .... driving while drunk

In this case you don't need causality.

There are some wrongful conducts that are expressed in themselves...You don't need the results... Others demand a result - murder, for instance. And then guilt is a consequence of a relation of causality between the accused's ommission or action AND the circumstance which he is being accused of being guilty of.


Maybe this became clear now...


if he wants to reduce causality to correlation (Hume's "constant conjunction") then he is going to have trouble explaining the causality in aircraft accidents. To have correlation, you need many similar events with similar conjunctions. Aircraft accidents are by and large unique, so it is all but impossible to establish correlation. That is why accident investigation agencies and people like ourselves use the Counterfactual Test.
Ok,

Aircraft accidents are unique and strangely surprising is the fact that their causes are in general not so frequent circumstances in aviation too...

Or are we all dead when airborne ?

Do you get my point ?

Last edited by aviadornovato; 9th Oct 2007 at 07:25.
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Old 9th Oct 2007, 09:16
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3Ten WHAT?? Am I understanding it right? You're beeing argumentative, I would risk to say that you won't get many feedback form pilots here.

I submit again my reply of yesterday. In fact, my statement was deliberately provocative. I know that, in aeronautics, an event is an outcome of some processes that are not going in the planned way, and that can therefore be described as incident or accident. From this point of view, some kind of fault is the “main cause” of the “wrong” consequence. But, if we consider the term from a physical point of view (that includes the former meaning as subset), an event is “A phenomenon or occurrence located at a single point in space-time (Am. Heritage Dictionnary)”. In this broader sense, even a successful landing, with the plane at the gate, is an event.
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Old 9th Oct 2007, 09:52
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Aviadornovato Guilt, if any in the case, is a legal consequence of causality. Of course a "cause" could imply in someone being guilty or not.
1) I think that guilt can be the object of laws and not of a serious analysis of complex facts.

2) Again on the question of causation, some simple examples can help to understand the question. We can suppose that we are seeing a body (call it A) at rest, and another one (B) coming at a steady speed and hitting it. Subsequently, A passes from rest to motion. From a Newtonian point of view, we can say that B is the cause of the motion of A. But, if we see the things from the perspective of relativity’s theory, we can’t speak in this way, because there is no absolute reference system, and if we are on A, we think that B is the cause of the change in our state; in we are on B, we think that A is the cause of the change. The only statement we can do is that an event (physically speaking) happens in the space-time continuum.

3) On correlation, another example. Suppose that, from a study based on correlation, a meaningful number of people using hard tools on Teflon pots contracts a particular form of cancer. If correlation is enough, we can say that Teflon is cancerogenic, but this statement is false, because it is impossible to construct a model in this way, since the chemical properties of Teflon don’t match with the effect. Remember, I didn’t say that correlation has no meaning, only that it isn’t enough. In fact, after some research, it appears clear that, in the production of some brands of pot, it is employed some type of glue, that can really be cancerogenic. So, now we have a sound theory, plus correlation, and the hypothesis is valid. Can we say that the glue is the cause of the cancer? No, because some individuals didn’t contract the illness, and we know that other factors (genetic, environmental, etc.) have a role, since the biochemical interactions are very complex. The glue is probably the most important factor (not cause), and therefore we will forbid the use of it in the production of pots.

4) I have a deep respect for pilots. I think that this is a very difficult and sophisticated job, requiring uncommon skills, from a technical, emotional, intellectual point of view. I think, too, that pilots should continue to think straightforward in terms of cause-effect, because this way is more efficient when you have to take decisions quickly. In fact, in practice, we say that a stone falls because is heavy and not because there is a curving of the space-time in proximity of the earth, and even in astronomical calculations we use the physics of Newton. But I think also that, when you have the time to conduct an in-depth analysis of a complex fact, you should use the more up-to-date theory, that in this case have to be systemic. In some sense, the pilot is on A, but the analysis have to take in account B, C, D, and so on, in the context of their reciprocal relations.
5) Without doubt, capt. Lima and capt. Stephanini Di Sacco were two good professionals, grown in an era when aviation in Brasil was still well organised (the symbol of those times was without doubt the former Varig, an outstanding airline). I think that in the whole world there isn’t a pilot that never did a mistake: the difference, obviously, is what, where and when. When we speak about guilt, faults and so on, the risk is that all ends only (principally) in blaming the pilots for the crash, and that this will become an alibi i.o. to avoid a meticulous review and improvement of the whole system, starting with the airport of CGH.
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Old 9th Oct 2007, 12:45
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I
think most legal professionals would say something like the following. Being guilty of a specific offence is what one is (or is not) declared at the termination of a specific legal process. It is not a property one might have (or not) independent of those processes.
Once Again: In my examples (those which started all this ... talk about law !!) the declaration of guilt (legally relevant "guilty" conduct) would be a consequence of causality. It is really a "property" of the process of unlawfully killing someone, as you might have justifiably killed for your protection, then not being "guilty" despite still having killed someone.

Why did I give those examples ? (so that we don't lose our main point here): Because PBL tends to "equalize" every factor that contributes to an event - If you use it (PBL: I am not saying you are using it) in a legal context, you tend to eliminate legal liability in several civil and criminal cases - Then turning many legal rules absolutelly void.
This is to show the incongruence of his thoughts on the matter of causality.

Now the countdown for deletion: ten, nine, eight...

Last edited by aviadornovato; 9th Oct 2007 at 13:02.
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Old 9th Oct 2007, 15:12
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gpvictor
an event is “A phenomenon or occurrence located at a single point in space-time (Am. Heritage Dictionnary)”.
Allright, as far as Nature is concerned, an airplane flying from A to B trough clear and crisp air, or though a mountain, is exactly the same. I'm sorry if for me is not the same, but probbably I'm the one flying the a/c.

From your last post, seems to me that you understand that pilots have to accumulate large ammounts of knowledge, but have to sort this knowledge in a way that's *ready to use*, which is a process that is different from the processes used by the majotity of other knoledgeable people. So, forgive me if sometimes I am a bit rough.

Cheers
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