Lesser-Evil Justifications for Harming: Why We’re Required to Turn the Trolley

Philosophical Quarterly 68 (272):460-480 (2018)
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Much philosophical attention has been paid to the question of whether, and why, one may divert a runaway trolley away from where it will kill five people to where it will kill one. But little attention has been paid to whether the reasons that ground a permission to divert thereby ground a duty to divert. This paper defends the Requirement Thesis, which holds that one is, ordinarily, required to act on lesser-evil justifications for harming for the sake of others. Cases in which we have lesser-evil justifications of harming for the sake of others are rescue cases. Ordinarily, an agent is under a duty to rescue unless doing so imposes too great a cost on her, or violates someone else's rights. When neither of these defeating conditions obtain, one is required to rescue even if this involves causing harm to innocent people.



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Helen Frowe
Stockholm University

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References found in this work

On What Matters: Two-Volume Set.Derek Parfit - 2011 - New York: Oxford University Press.
The limits of morality.Shelly Kagan - 1989 - New York: Oxford University Press.
Whether and Where to Give.Theron Pummer - 2016 - Philosophy and Public Affairs 44 (1):77-95.

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