The Moral Status of Enabling Harm

Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 92 (1):66-86 (2011)
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Abstract

According to the Doctrine of Doing and Allowing, it is more difficult to justify doing harm than it is to justify allowing harm. Enabling harm consists in withdrawing an obstacle that would, if left in place, prevent a pre-existing causal sequence from leading to foreseen harm. There has been a lively debate concerning the moral status of enabling harm. According to some (e.g. McMahan, Vihvelin and Tomkow), many cases of enabling harm are morally indistinguishable from doing harm. Others (e.g. Foot, Hanser) support the Equivalence Hypothesis, according to which enabling harm is morally equivalent to allowing harm. Here I argue that there is every reason to embrace, and no reason to reject, the Equivalence Hypothesis

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Samuel C. Rickless
University of California, San Diego

Citations of this work

Self-Defense.Helen Frowe & Jonathan Parry - 2021 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy 2021.
Doing and Allowing Harm to Refugees.Bradley Hillier-Smith - 2020 - Journal of Ethics and Social Philosophy 18 (3).
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Chaos and Constraints.Howard Nye - 2014 - In David Boersema (ed.), Dimensions of Moral Agency. Cambridge Scholars. pp. 14-29.

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References found in this work

The limits of morality.Shelly Kagan - 1989 - New York: Oxford University Press.
Active and passive euthanasia.James Rachels - 2000 - In Steven M. Cahn (ed.), Exploring Philosophy: An Introductory Anthology. New York, NY, United States of America: Oxford University Press USA.
The act itself.Jonathan Bennett - 1995 - New York: Oxford University Press.

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