Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Mr. Brendan Keilar

Yesterday in Melbourne a 43-year old male solicitor, Brendan Keilar, came to the rescue of an obviously distressed woman being violently dragged by a male from a taxi in Flinders Lane. The attacker responded by shooting the solicitor in the chest – he died an hour later. Mr Keilar was a brave man who didn’t ignore the cries of someone in a distress. He was killed as a result. This evening police are pursuing the killer. Another man was shot and is in a critical condition. The woman being assaulted was also shot and is in a serious condition.

We should be inspired by these individual acts of bravery. I recall the American Wesley Autry who threw himself on railway tracks in the face of an oncoming locomotive to pin-down and protect a man having a convulsion who had fallen there. The locomotive roared over his head and both Autry and the man he saved survived. Autry didn’t have time to think - he acted spontaneously.

There are brave people in all communities. They are an inspiration to us all. My sympathies go out to the wife and 3 children of Mr Keilar.

4 comments:

robert merkel said...

Well said, Harry.

Norak said...

Yes, perhaps you should try writing an economic model that explains why he did what he did.

hc said...

Norak, There is an extensive economics literature trying to understand altruism. Good economists from the time of Adam Smith (Theory of Moral Sentiments) have argued that people do not act on the basis of self-interest alone.

My guess here is that Mr Keilar empathised with the situation of the young woman. He might have momentarily thought of the costs of intervening - perhaps a punch in the nose or an obsenity - but the prospect of being killed might have only been glimpsed as a low probability event. That is not to minimise his courage in trying to defend the woman from a violent man.

I assume that in the future this type of intervention might come to focus on the threat of being killed and may lead people to be more reluctant to intervene.

That's a simple economic model.

conrad said...

My guess is that Mr Keilar didn't initially consciously emphathise with the victom and nor did he think/evaluate the potential cost to any great degree.

That's the difference between the psychological perspective of altruism and the economic one. Economists need to give up on the idea that people generally sit there evaluating the probabilities and outcomes of situations before they act -- they don't.