Utilitas 19 (4):407-429 (2007)

Guido Pincione
University of Arizona
Many political libertarians argue, or assume, that negative moral duties (duties not to harm others) prevail over positive moral duties (duties to aid others), and that the legal system ought to reflect such pre-eminence. I call into question this strategy for defending a libertarian order. I start by arguing that a successful account of the well-known case of a runaway trolley that is about to kill five innocents unless a passer-by diverts it onto one innocent, killing him, should point to (i) the ex ante advantage to all six of being subject to a policy of redirection of runaway trolleys, and (ii) the causal structure of killing vs. letting-die choices. I then argue that this account of the trolley case entails that legal systems reflecting the relative stringency of negative and positive moral duties should uphold redistributive measures at odds with libertarianism. The assumption that the legal system ought to reflect, through non-causal routes, moral principles and their relative weights leads to either an ideal-theory (in Rawls's sense) assessment of libertarianism or a symbolic account of the relationships between morality and law. Libertarians should undermine this assumption if they hope to offer an all-things-considered case for free markets
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DOI 10.1017/s0953820807002713
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References found in this work BETA

Anarchy, State, and Utopia.Robert Nozick - 1974 - Philosophy 52 (199):102-105.
Justice as Fairness: A Restatement.C. L. Ten - 2003 - Mind 112 (447):563-566.
The Realm of Rights.Carl Wellman - 1992 - Journal of Philosophy 89 (6):326-329.
Harming Some to Save Others.Frances Kamm - 1989 - Philosophical Studies 57 (3):227 - 260.

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Citations of this work BETA

The Libertarian Nonaggression Principle.Matt Zwolinski - 2016 - Social Philosophy and Policy 32 (2):62-90.
The Trolley Problem and Aggression.F. M. Kamm - 2016 - Social Philosophy and Policy 32 (2):1-17.

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