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Killing and Letting Die: the Similarity Criterion

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Abstract:

abstract 

Applied ethics engages with concrete moral issues. This engagement involves the application of philosophical tools. When the philosophical tools used in applied ethics are problematic, conclusions about applied problems can become skewed. In this paper, I focus on problems with the idea that comparison cases must be exactly alike, except for the moral issue at hand. I argue that this idea has skewed the debate regarding the moral distinction between killing and letting die.

I begin with problems that can arise from attempts to produce comparison cases that are exactly alike, except for the moral issue at hand. I then argue that attempts to produce such examples are doomed to failure. Finally, I argue that abandoning concerns about similarity advances the debate regarding the moral distinction between killing and letting die.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1468-5930.2007.00381.x

Affiliations: School of Philosophy and Bioethics, Centre for Human Bioethics, Faculty of Arts, Monash University, Victoria 3800, Australia

Publication date: 2007-08-01

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