Can I Sell a Product that Could Kill Someone?


Guns kill innocent people every day, and gun dealers should be held responsible for those deaths.

Q1 Analysis

Whether this is a Q1 violation depends in part on what products you think qualify as so dangerous that anyone selling them should be liable, and whether you would always condemn someone selling such a product.

Q2 Analysis

This is a Q2 violation if you would object to someone holding you responsible for selling a product if they were using the same justification you use for holding gun dealers responsible.


It is clearly a Q2 violation to hold anyone who sells any product that causes harm responsible for that harm. To do so would be to invite an unreasonable amount of liability whenever you sold something. For example, if you sold an old car, you would not want to be responsible if the vehicle’s new owner had a traffic accident.

What if you only hold responsible those who sell a product with the knowledge that the product could or would intentionally be used to cause harm? If you require definite proof of this knowledge, it may be difficult to come by. If, on the other hand, you feel morally justified in inferring the knowledge, this may be a Q2 violation. For example, what if a gun dealer says that he only sells weapons to be used in self-defense? Would you assume he’s not telling the truth? What about a gun dealer who only sells weapons to police officers, but who lives in a town where there have been complaints that the police are using their weapons too often? Would you hold a gun dealer responsible for the use of weapons purchased by the military? If the military were currently involved in what you consider an immoral war, would that make a difference?

Aside from guns, what other products should bring moral responsibility to their sellers? Which of these companies or individuals do you think should be responsible for what they are selling?

You are encouraged to leave your answers to the questions posed in this post in the comments section. This post is based on an excerpt from Ask Yourself to be Moral, by D. Cancilla, available at and See the 2Q system page for details of the philosophical system mentioned in this post.

Posted on August 11, 2010 at 10:26 am by ideclare · Permalink
In: 2Q

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