Last Updated 19 Jun 2021

9/11: Whose Fault Is It

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Whose Fault is it?

The September 11, 2001 attacks were a series of coordinated terrorist attacks upon the United States of America carried out on Tuesday, September 11, 2001.

Four commercial airliners were hijacked and crashed, resulting in the deaths of nearly 3,000 civilians in the planes and on the ground. On that morning, nineteen hijackers, affiliated with al-Qaeda, crashed two planes into the twin towers of the World Trade Center in Manhattan, New York City, and within two hours both towers collapsed. A third hijacked plane crashed into the Pentagon, in Arlington County, Virginia. The fourth plane crashed into a rural field in Somerset County, Pennsylvania. None of the passengers survived”. Just to think for a moment if on September 11, 2001, the attacks were not committed by hijackers that are affiliated with Al-Qaeda, but instead through a fierce thunderstorm and lightning, that just happens to occur in New York, and caused planes to malfunction and crash land, on the twin towers which happens to be the nearest building for luck sake. Of course, the day will still be one of the worst days in American history, and the families of the deceased will be grieving and suffering, only with a big difference.

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There will be no war in Afghanistan and probably not in Iraq because the American population will not be seeking punishment for the perpetrators of the attacks. Now when we try to figure out what is the difference between these two beliefs, it is because we think that the attacks were pre-meditated, and carried out on the free-will of the hijackers, and their leaders who operate the Al-Qaeda terrorist organization. To fully understand what I am trying to explain on what Aristotle was talking about on Moral responsibility, it is necessary that the following is explained, first and foremost; what is moral responsibility? What makes a person a “moral agent”? Can the person know what a decision is and choose to make those decisions by themselves? Under what terms can the person be held responsible for their own moral decisions? I. e. is the person free of Ignorance and compulsion? And what are some responsibility ascriptions that are used to attribute consent to the subject, the things that risk factors, actions, consequences, etc? “Moral responsibility is primarily the responsibility related to actions and their consequences in social relations. It generally concerns the harm caused to an individual, a group or the entire society by the actions or inactions of another individual, group or entire society. This is the mechanism by which blame can be placed, and influences many important social constructs, such as prosecution under the legal system.

My paper is focusing on how a person can and should be held responsible for their actions provided that they do not fall into the categories of Ignorance and compulsion. For Ignorance, a person should be held responsible for their actions if they voluntarily decide to be ignorant on a decision they choose to make. We as humans cannot be coerced into doing things and thinking certain ways, especially if we decide to educate ourselves on the decision we make; we have a choice to make. Everything we do has an outcome whether they are good or bad and because we make our choices, we will still be held responsible of what it is that we do and how we go about choices. For example, with the hijackers of 9/11, if any of them was to miraculously survive we would all agree that they show face the death penalty, even though we are not sure that they are not coerced into making the decision that they have made. To argue for moral responsibility, two factors are necessary and they support my thesis. A person is morally responsible for their actions if it includes both Free will, and determinism.

Now both of these terms seems easy to explain easily as freedom to make our own decisions and determinism as our outright determination that we are capable of doing something and choosing to do it. But for the argument to be made, I am going to have to explain a little bit deeper what both of these terms mean, and how they affect moral responsibility, to the point that if you have both of these terms together before you make a decision, and then decide to make the decision, you are responsible for the consequences of your actions. According to the dictionary meaning, it is:

  • Free Will - The power of making free choices that are unconstrained by external circumstances or by an agency such as fate or divine will
  • Determinism - The philosophical doctrine that every event, act, and the decision is the inevitable consequence of antecedents, such as genetic and environmental influences, that are independent of the human will.

They both infer that people have freedom to make decisions they make before they make, but Philosophers have stated that compatibility freedom is freedom that is responsible for the actions that we decide to take. According to the Philosophers, compatibility freedom is the when both free will and determinism co-exist together in a decision that is made. If a person is being forced to do something, like in the case of the suicide bombers for example if they were being controlled by some machine, or if the bombers were like walking robots, then we cannot blame them for the result of their actions in which they have been programmed to perform, then being a machine that is programmed will remove their responsibility from the act that they have committed.

Then they could say “it is not my fault, I was programmed by this mad scientist Osama Bin Laden to control the planes and blow up the buildings” But we know that they are not machines, they have willing fully decided to get on the planes and carry out instructions by their leaders, and based on the article the mindset of a suicide bomber. One of the arrested would-be suicide bombers said to his interviewer “I was told that to be accepted for a suicide mission the volunteers had to be convinced of the religious legitimacy of the acts they were contemplating, as sanctioned by the divinely revealed religion of Islam. Many of these young men had memorized large sections of the Koran and were well versed in the finer points of Islamic law and practice. But their knowledge of Christianity was rooted in the medieval crusades, and they regarded Judaism and Zionism as synonymous.

”My explanations for this would be, the term “volunteers”, and being “convinced of the religious legitimacy of the acts they were contemplating. If you decide to volunteer, this rules out compulsion, and if you are learned in the religion of Islam, you would know that you also know that the Quran is totally against killing oneself. O ye who believe! [Do not] kill yourselves, for truly Allah has been to you Most Merciful. If any do that in rancor and injustice, soon shall we cast him into the Fire..." (Qur'an 4:29-30).

"Nor take life - which Allah has made sacred - except for just cause... " (17:33).

”So knowledge of this also rules out Ignorance, and makes a suicide bomber morally responsible for their decision. The Libertarian view has been the biggest opposition to Moral responsibility, the point of view of a libertarian is that “…some human ecisions and actions, particularly moral and religious decisions, are strictly uncaused…” “these decisions are not even caused by our desires or character.They are very insistent on this: a truly free act is not an act which carries out our strongest desire; it rather, typically, goes against our strongest desire. ” The libertarian is aware, of course, that our desires are largely a function of our heredity, environment, past decisions and so on. If free decisions are based on desires, they are not fully free. They are not in this case wholly uncaused (Incompatibilism). The argument is that responsibility can not be on a person, if he cannot have changed what he did.

The argument is that people make the decisions they do based on the environment or some other factor minus the fact that people would do anything for there own reasons whether to satisfy their conscience, monetary gain, or for vengeance. It is obvious that this argument has no logical base in it, because it removes the free will of man. It argues that the decisions that we willingly and consciously make are not a result of our thinking but for external reasons.An example of the argument would be a person who decides to blow up the WTC, just finds his body moving, taking the bombs and strapping it to himself, and his legs getting into the car and driving straight to the WTC and his hands again detonating the bombs. And if he survives his defense is that “I did not do it my hands and legs did it by themselves against my free will”. Well since this is never true in real life, we control our legs, and arms, this man will be condemned to death through our judicial systems just like Timothy McVeigh. Using the argument by the Libertarians, it would make a confusion of our judicial systems because we would have to prove that decision was uncaused.

This is needed in responsibility situations in our courts, just because you were not the instigator of the provocations before the attack does not mean you are not responsible for the attacks, this means that for example if someone made you mad, then you decide to kill the person, you should go free because the person made you mad, compared to I killed the person because if I did not kill the person he would have killed me or raped me.This also goes back and proves my point that free will and determination are both needed to carry out any moral decision making that would make you morally responsible for the consequences of your actions, and that causation does not eliminate responsibility, and makes the view of the libertarian unintelligible to say the least.In conclusion, based on the arguments and definitions above, a person is responsible for the decisions they make unless like Aristotle has said that they are not free from Ignorance and Compulsion. But a person who also willingly neglects ignorance is also liable for the decision that they make, so also causation does not eliminate responsibility. We are totally responsible for any decisions that we make, whether it be good or bad, as long as there are no factors beyond our hands that are involved in the decision-making.

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9/11: Whose Fault Is It. (2018, Dec 04). Retrieved from

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