Responsibility for Omissions

Ingmar Persson and Julian Savulescu

in Unfit for the Future

Published in print July 2012 | ISBN: 9780199653645
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191742033 | DOI:
Responsibility for Omissions

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The more our power to act — including our power to prevent suffering — grows because of the advance of scientific technology, the more important it becomes to see the falsity of the act-omission doctrine, the doctrine that it is more difficult to justify morally causing harm than letting it occur, by omitting to prevent it. This doctrine, together with our limited altruism and incapacity to be proportionately altruistic with regard to larger groups of suffering people, explains why people in affluent nations have done so little in the last decades to mitigate global inequality. The problem of global inequality is not a main target of this book, but it is intimately connected to what is a main target, namely climate change and environmental destruction. This is because the problem of global inequality makes it more difficult to stop climate change and environmental destruction in a morally acceptable way.

Keywords: altruism; act-omission; climate change; environmental destruction; global inequality

Chapter.  2364 words. 

Subjects: Moral Philosophy

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