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Killing John to Save Mary: A Defense of the Moral Distinction between Killing and Letting Die

Killing John to Save Mary: A Defense of the Moral Distinction between Killing and Letting Die

Chapter:
(p.47) 3 Killing John to Save Mary: A Defense of the Moral Distinction between Killing and Letting Die
Source:
Action, Ethics, and Responsibility
Author(s):
Helen Frowe
Publisher:
The MIT Press
DOI:10.7551/mitpress/9780262014731.003.0003

This chapter presents an argument in opposition to that presented by Michael Tooley; Tooley’s argument states that initiating a causal process is morally equivalent to refraining from interfering in that process. This argument fails to offer any plausible ground for this allegedly significant notion of interfering in the actions of others such that it has sufficient force to overturn the objection of equating actions which are morally distinct. As a principle of morality, it serves no useful purpose because, in preventing the causal process that will result in serious harm, one’s interference in another person’s actions is not a morally significant feature. Justifying this principle of noninterference also presents problems, as its inclusion substantially restricts the number of cases to which Tooley’s Moral Symmetry Principle applies.

Keywords:   causal process, Michael Tooley, principle of morality, principle of noninterference, Moral Symmetry Principle

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