Killing and the Time-relative Interest Account

Journal of Ethics 15 (3):169-189 (2011)
Jeff McMahan appeals to what he calls the “Time-relative Interest Account of the Wrongness of Killing” to explain the wrongness of killing individuals who are conscious but not autonomous. On this account, the wrongness of such killing depends on the victim’s interest in his or her future, and this interest, in turn, depends on two things: the goods that would have accrued to the victim in the future; and the strength of the prudential relations obtaining between the victim at the time of the killing and at the times these goods would have accrued to him or her. More precisely, when assessing this interest, future goods should be discounted to reflect reductions in the strength of such relations. Against McMahan’s account I argue that it relies on an implausible “actualist” view of the moral importance of interests according to which satisfactions of future interests only have moral significance if they are satisfactions of actual interests (interests that will in fact exist). More precisely, I aim to show that the Time-relative Interest Account (1) does not have the implications for the morality of killing that McMahan takes it to have, and (2) implies, implausibly, that certain interest satisfactions which seem to be morally significant are morally insignificant because they are not satisfactions of actual interests.
Keywords Abortion  Jeff McMahan  Killing  Time-relative interest account
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1007/s10892-010-9087-6
 Save to my reading list
Follow the author(s)
My bibliography
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Revision history Request removal from index
Download options
PhilPapers Archive

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy on self-archival     Papers currently archived: 15,974
External links
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library
References found in this work BETA
Peter Singer (1993). Practical Ethics. Cambridge University Press.
John Rawls (2009/2005). A Theory of Justice. In Steven M. Cahn (ed.), Philosophy and Rhetoric. Oxford University Press 133-135.

View all 30 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Monthly downloads

Added to index


Total downloads

52 ( #64,833 of 1,725,835 )

Recent downloads (6 months)

4 ( #166,958 of 1,725,835 )

How can I increase my downloads?

My notes
Sign in to use this feature

Start a new thread
There  are no threads in this forum
Nothing in this forum yet.