The Doctrine of Doing and Allowing II: The Moral Relevance of the Doing/Allowing Distinction

Philosophy Compass 7 (7):459-469 (2012)
Abstract
According to the Doctrine of Doing and Allowing, the distinction between doing and allowing harm is morally significant. Doing harm is harder to justify than merely allowing harm. This paper is the second of a two paper critical overview of the literature on the Doctrine of Doing and Allowing. In this paper, I consider the moral status of the distinction between doing and allowing harm. I look at objections to the doctrine such as James’ Rachels’ Wicked Uncle Case and Jonathan Bennett’s argument that any acceptable analysis of the distinction leaves it implausible that the distinction is morally relevant. I consider putative defences of the Doctrine from Philippa Foot and Warren Quinn. I argue that neither Foot not Quinn provides a satisfactory justification of the Doctrine of Doing and Allowing, but that the idea of self-ownership discussed by Quinn can be developed to provide a justification of the doctrine
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Fiona Woollard (2008). Doing and Allowing, Threats and Sequences. Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 89 (2):261–277.
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