In dubious battle: uncertainty and the ethics of killing

Philosophical Studies 175 (4):859-883 (2018)
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Abstract

How should deontologists concerned with the ethics of killing apply their moral theory when we don’t know all the facts relevant to the permissibility of our action? Though the stakes couldn’t be higher, and uncertainty is endemic where killing is concerned, few deontologists have an answer to this question. In this paper I canvass two possibilities: that we should apply a threshold standard, equivalent to the ‘beyond a reasonable doubt’ standard applied for criminal punishment; and that we should fit our deontological ethical theory into the apparatus of decision theory. I show that the first approach faces insurmountable obstacles, while the second holds much more promise for deontologists than they might first have assumed.

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Seth Lazar
Australian National University

References found in this work

A Theory of Justice: Revised Edition.John Rawls - 1999 - Harvard University Press.
On What Matters: Two-Volume Set.Derek Parfit - 2011 - New York: Oxford University Press.
The Foundations of Statistics.Leonard J. Savage - 1954 - Wiley Publications in Statistics.

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