Harming and allowing harm

Ethics 110 (4):749-779 (2000)
The article takes as its starting point the assumption that (a) competing accounts of moral rules should be judged by the distribution of benefits and burdens which would arise from everyone accepting these rules, and that (b) these benefits and burdens are understood in a way which has a substantial resource or freedom-based component. This starting point is compatible with contractualism and various forms of rule consequentialism, and will yield a morality in which people have significant freedoms. The main claim of the article is that as a consequence of these freedoms, and because of phenomena connected with cost internalization, this morality will also impose strong constraints on harming and weak constraints on allowing harm. Thus the starting point ends up vindicating commonsense morality.
Keywords Making and allowing  Killing versus letting die  Harming  Deontology  Contractualism  Rule consequentialism  Liability  Consent
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DOI 10.1086/233372
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