But what if in order to save 0nc’s life one has to ki]1 another person? In some cases that is obviously permissible. In a case I will call Villainous Aggrcssor, you are standing in :1 meadow, innocently minding your own business, and 21 truck suddenly heads toward you. You try to sidestep the truck, but it tums as you tum. Now you can sec the driver: he is a mam you know has long hated you. What to do? You cannot (...) outrun thc truck. Fortunately, this is not pure nightmare: you just happen to have em antitank gun with you, and can blow up the truck. Of course, if you do this you will kill thc driver, but that does not matter; it is morally permissible for you to blow up thc truck, driver and 211, in defense of your life. (shrink)
Reply to critics Content Type Journal Article Pages 1-13 DOI 10.1007/s11098-011-9735-0 Authors Judith Jarvis Thomson, Department of Linguistics & Philosophy, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 77 Massachusetts Avenue, 32-d808, Cambridge, MA 02139-4307, USA Journal Philosophical Studies Online ISSN 1573-0883 Print ISSN 0031-8116.
Moral theorists often say such things as “But surely A ought to do such and such,” or “Plainly it is morally permissible for B to do so and so,” and do not even try to prove that those judgments are true. Moreover, they often rest weight on the supposition that those judgments are true. In particular, they often rest theories on them: they take them as data. Others object. They say that nobody is entitled to rest any weight at all (...) on judgments such as those. They say, not that the judgments are false, but that there is no reason to believe them true. They say, more generally, that there is no reason to think of any moral judgment that it is true. I will call this The No Reason Thesis. Is there reason to think The No Reason Thesis true? There are lots of arguments for it in the literature, but I want to focus on one of them in particular. I think that the one I will focus on lies behind all the others, but no matter if it does not: I suggest that if this argument fails, they all fail. (shrink)
I There are a great many ways in which a thing can be good. What counts as a way of being good? I leave it to intuition. Let us allow that being a good dancer is being good in a way, and that so also is being a good carpenter. We might group these and similar ways of being good under the name activity goodness, since a good dancer is good at dancing and a good carpenter is good at carpentry. (...) Everything good at doing something D is good in a way, and for each activity D, being good at D-ing falls into the class of ways of being good which I call activity goodness. Again, let us allow that being a good hammer is being good in a way, and that so also is being a good butter knife. We might group these ways of being good under the name equipment goodness, since a good hammer is good for use in hammering nails and a good butter knife is good for use in buttering bread. Everything good for use in achieving a purpose P is good in a way, and for each purpose P, being good for use in achieving P falls into the class of ways of being good which I call equipment goodness. Again, let us allow that tasting good is being good in a way, and so also are looking good, sounding good, and so on. The class here is aesthetic goodness. Is all goodness goodness-in-a-way? Intuitively, the answer is yes: it seems right to think that everything is good only insofar as it is good in one or more ways. (shrink)