Utilitas 29 (4):453-473 (2017)

Thomas Sinclair
Oxford University
Most people believe that the rights of others sometimes require us to act in ways that have even substantially sub-optimal outcomes, as viewed from an axiological perspective that ranks outcomes objectively. Bringing about the optimal outcome, contrary to such a requirement, is an ‘optimific wronging’. It is less clear, however, that we are required to prevent optimific wrongings. Perhaps the value of the outcome, combined with the relative weakness of prohibitions on allowing harm as compared to those against doing harm, justifies non-intervention. In this article, I consider arguments to that effect, focusing on a recent paper in this journal by Andreas Mogensen. I argue that while we do not, in general, do wrong by failing to prevent optimific wrongings, we are nevertheless not permitted, in key cases, to refrain from intervening on the grounds that not intervening will secure the optimal outcome.
Keywords Non-consequentialism  Trolley problem  Consequentialism  Doctrine of Double Effect  Doctrine of Doing and Allowing
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DOI 10.1017/S0953820816000388
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References found in this work BETA

A Defense of Abortion.Judith Jarvis Thomson - 1971 - Philosophy and Public Affairs 1 (1):47-66.
The View from Nowhere.Thomas Nagel - 1986 - Revue de Métaphysique et de Morale 92 (2):280-281.
Killer Robots.Robert Sparrow - 2007 - Journal of Applied Philosophy 24 (1):62–77.
A Right to Do Wrong.Jeremy Waldron - 1981 - Ethics 92 (1):21-39.

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