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What does "ethical consequences" mean in the following? Consequences that affect ethics? Any less abstract explanations available?

Although he is not found guilty, he is responsible for the ethical consequences of his action.

Also consider the following:

Luban, supra note 22 at 111, argues that the adversarial system is pragmatically justified and thus requires participants to play by its rules to promote its ends. However, beyond a certain point, the lawyer can no longer rely on the system for ethical justification of her actions, but instead becomes responsible for the ethical consequences of her actions.

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    What is the source of the sentence? Oct 8, 2021 at 7:37

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This is just a clumsy sentence. Google agrees with me. If you search for ethical consequences, Google returns less than 200 matches. (Don't be fooled by the first page of results; Google often promises more than it delivers.)

Consequences can be physical. If I injure a person, I might be responsible for paying their hospital bills, lost income, suffering, etc. If I damage property, I might be responsible for repair bills, lost income, etc.

Consequences can be psychological. If I harm a child, the physical damage might not be severe, but the child might suffer from PTSD for the rest of his life. He might be entitled to compensation.

In extremely unusual circumstances, some people might believe that moral consequences exist. For example, if I kill a man's wife, he might lose his faith in God. His religious leader might believe that I have put the man at risk of spending eternity in hell. I'm not sure if I could fix the damage, but I suppose it's hypothetically possible.

I have no idea what ethical consequences might be. The word ethical is modifying the wrong part of the idea.

I suspect that what the writer really means is this:

Although he is not found guilty, he is ethically responsible for the consequences of his action.

This makes perfect sense. Most of us understand the difference between legal responsibilities and ethical responsibilities. This is especially the case if I have damaged someone emotionally. For example, if I say something offensive to a colleague, it might not be severe enough to be considered harassment—but if I perceive that my behavior was bad, I might still feel an ethical responsibility to apologize.

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  • I might be inclined to talk about 'moral' responsibility, especially if trying to contrast it with the legal kind. Oct 8, 2021 at 10:23
  • How about the following example of "ethical consequences"? Luban, supra note 22 at 111, argues that the adversarial system is pragmatically justified and thus requires participants to play by its rules to promote its ends. However, beyond a certain point, the lawyer can no longer rely on the system for ethical justification of her actions, but instead becomes responsible for the ethical consequences of her actions.
    – Apollyon
    Oct 9, 2021 at 3:04

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