Waldron on the “Basic Equality” of Hitler and Schweitzer: A Brief Refutation

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The idea that all human beings have equal moral worth has been challenged by insisting that this is utterly counter-intuitive in the case of individuals like, for instance, Hitler on the one hand and Schweitzer on the other. This seems to be confirmed by a hypothetical in which one can only save one of the two: intuitively, one clearly should save Schweitzer, not Hitler, even if Hitler does not pose a threat anymore. The most natural interpretation of this intuition appeals to unequal moral worth. Jeremy Waldron has recently tried to meet this challenge by giving a different interpretation, thereby trying to explain away the counter-intuitive implications of the basic equality doctrine in this case, and by suggesting that the rejection of basic equality comes with counter-intuitive implications of its own. I shall argue that Waldron’s response to the challenge fails on both counts.
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First archival date: 2019-06-10
Latest version: 2 (2019-06-10)
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