Week 3; Double Effect

Week 3; Double Effect - The Doctrine of Doing Allowing(The...

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A. Famous Question a. Scenarios i. Smith drowns his young cousin in the bathtub ii. Jones plans to drown his young cousin, but finds the boy already unconscious under water and refrains from saving him b. Is there any difference between Smith and Jones in a morally relevant sense? i. Philosophers believe there is a difference between the two cases ii. Consequentalists will say there is no difference c. James Rachel’s claim i. No morally relevant distinction between these two cases ii. The distinction between killing and letting someone die, and acts and omissions more generally, is not in itself morally relevant iii. Acts and omissions are conceptually equivalent iv. If typical killings are worse than typical lettings die, that must be because of other factors 1. Knowledge of what is at stake a. Eg. Cold yesterday, see a homeless person, today you find that homeless person dead, you feel guilt, but may think that you are not responsible for the consequence (assume he’s harmless) 2. The agent’s power of whether the death occurs a. Eg. not likely to die, homeless people all the time don’t die 3. The likelihood that the death will come about a. Eg. Could have died last year, not likely it will happen tonight 4. The agent’s motivation a. Eg. Not my job, it’s the job of government etc. a. Rejects Rachel’s claim b. There IS some morally relevant distinction between the two cases c. Killing is worse than letting die d. Acts and omissions are not conceptually equivalent i. If killing is wrong, then letting die is wrong – not this doctrine
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This note was uploaded on 04/19/2008 for the course PHIL 237 taught by Professor Hirose during the Winter '08 term at McGill.

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Week 3; Double Effect - The Doctrine of Doing Allowing(The...

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