On the Moral Relevance of the Distinction Between Killing and Letting Die

Dissertation, University of California, Santa Barbara (1997)

My project is to investigate the moral significance of the distinction between killing and letting die. There are two stages in such an investigation. In the first stage I critically discuss three candidates which claim to provide factual accounts of the distinction between killing and letting die. In the second stage where moral accounts of the distinction are concerned, I examine Rachels' bathtub example with an eye to undermining his claim that the example is meant to support what I call the Moral Equivalence Claim. I reject Rachels' claim with various arguments. But this does not prove what I call the Intrinsic Difference Claim. I discuss Foot's rationale for the distinction between killing and letting die, and argue that her argument makes no progress except assuming that the right to be saved if it exists is weaker than the right not to be killed. In the next chapter I present Kagan's cutoff point argument, and criticize it with three responses of my own
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