Killing, letting die, and simple conflicts

Philos Public Aff. Summer 1989;18(3):238-58.

Abstract

KIE: Proponents of the moral equivalence of killing and letting die argue that in cases of simple conflict, where one agent must either perform a positive act and kill one person, or not perform that act and allow another person to die, the agent's alternatives are clearly morally equivalent. Malm rejects this view in a three part essay. He argues that in cases of simple conflict, the acts of killing and letting die are morally different, and that killing is not in itself worse than letting die. Malm considers and rejects the suggestion that the agent should decide randomly between the two alternatives. He concludes that while simple conflict cases require us to recognize a morally significant difference between killing and letting die, they do not require us to recognize a morally significant difference between acting and refraining.

MeSH terms

  • Ethics*
  • Euthanasia*
  • Euthanasia, Active*
  • Euthanasia, Passive*
  • Homicide*
  • Humans
  • Intention
  • Motivation
  • Random Allocation

Personal name as subject

  • Michael Tooley