Chapter

Killing and Letting Die in Standardly Equalized Cases

F. M. Kamm

in Morality, Mortality Volume II: Rights, Duties, and Status

Published in print January 2001 | ISBN: 9780195144024
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780199870998 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/0195144023.003.0005

Series: Oxford Ethics Series

 Killing and Letting Die in Standardly Equalized Cases

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Presents four different tests to use on standardly equalized kill and let‐die cases to determine the truth of Thesis E (Thesis of the Moral Equivalence of Killing and Letting Die). The first is the Post‐Efforts Test, (which is contrasted with the defeasibility test); results obtained from this test are considered on varied cases, including cases where there are no wrong acts (this is related to issues of strict liability and agent regret); objections to the test are also examined. Second is the Pre‐Efforts Test, which requires foregoing benefit, making sacrifices, or being imposed on to prevent behaviour; after showing how this test might distinguish morally between killing and letting die, objections raised to it by Bruce Russell and Joel Feinberg are considered; consideration is also given to what moral difference is being measured by both the Post‐Efforts and the Pre‐Efforts tests — a difference in moral objectionableness or in some other moral property — and to the significance of not imposing losses on someone when he is dependent on some people but independent relative to others. The Choice Test comes third; this is in some ways more sensitive than the first two tests and may also yield different results; it gives the first indication that there are (at least) two different measures for the stringency of prohibitions on acts — an efforts measure and a precedence measure (this issue is also addressed in Ch. 12); again, the question arises as to whether the tests measure differences in moral objectionableness of killing and letting die or some other morally significant property (i.e. one related to how much we may require people to do). The final test presented is the Good Motive Test; this considers killing and letting‐die cases in which we act either for greater good or for paternalistic reasons (e.g. in euthanasia); Philippa Foot's views on the contrasting virtues of justice and charity are also considered here.

Keywords: charity; Choice Test; efforts measure; equalizing cases standardly; Joel Feinberg; Philippa FootGood Motive Test; greater good; justice; kill and let‐die cases; killing and letting die; measures for the stringency of prohibitions on acts; moral differences; Moral Equivalence; paternalism; Post‐Efforts Test; precedence measure; Pre‐Efforts Test; Bruce Russell; testing standardly equalized kill and let‐die cases; Thesis E

Chapter.  19104 words. 

Subjects: Moral Philosophy

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