Murdering an Accident Victim: A New Objection to the Bare-Difference Argument

Australasian Journal of Philosophy 96 (4):767-778 (2018)
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Many philosophers, psychologists, and medical practitioners believe that killing is no worse than letting die on the basis of James Rachels's Bare-Difference Argument. I show that his argument is unsound. In particular, a premise of the argument is that his examples are as similar as is consistent with one being a case of killing and the other being a case of letting die. However, the subject who lets die has both the ability to kill and the ability to let die while the subject who kills lacks the ability to let die. Modifying the latter example so that the killer has both abilities yields a pair of cases with morally different acts. The hypothesis that killing is worse than letting die is the best explanation of this difference.

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Scott Hill
Wichita State University


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