Alon Harel on How to Deliberate Permissibly

Criminal Law and Philosophy 11 (4):833-846 (2017)
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Alon Harel defines extreme cases as those in which the only way to avert a destructive threat is to harm innocent people. He rejects traditional consequentialist and non-consequentialist approaches because of the type of reasoning they both employ. I interpret Harel as making two central objections to this form of reasoning. First, traditional approaches require comparisons to be made about the value of human life. Second, decisions in extreme cases, even if permissible, should not be made under the guidance of rules. I argue that these objections, though prima facie plausible, are on reflection relatively weak, and I offer instead a more moderate argument that vindicates Harel’s general thesis that deliberation is morally relevant. More specifically, I argue that whether one acts on certain conditions affects both the moral permissibility of one’s actions and the duties owed by others.



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Moral dimensions: permissibility, meaning, blame.Thomas Scanlon - 2008 - Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.
Ethics without principles.Jonathan Dancy - 2004 - New York: Oxford University Press.
Law’s Empire.Ronald Dworkin - 1986 - Harvard University Press.

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