Philosophy and Public Affairs 8 (4):395-397 (1979)

Derek Parfit
Last affiliation: Oxford University
An exchange of correspondence with Charles Fried. Parfit's section begins: "I am puzzled. Consider Case One: I could save either one stranger or five others. Both acts would involve a heroic personal sacrifice. I choose, for no reason, to save the one rather than the five. Fried argues: (i ) Since both acts would involve a heroic sacrifice, I could not be criticized if I chose to do neither. (2) If I could not be criticized for choosing to do neither, I cannot be criticized for choosing to do one rather than the other. Therefore (3) When I choose to save the one rather than the five, my choice cannot be criticized. Fried rejects (3). Though my act is heroic, he concedes that my choice is 'perverse' and 'morally deficient.'"
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