Why a Victim's Age is Irrelevant When Assessing the Wrongness of Killing
Intuitively, all killings are equally wrong, no matter how old one's victim. In this paper we defend this claim — The Equal Wrongness of Killings Thesis — against a challenge presented by Kasper Lippert-Rasmussen. Lippert-Rasmussen shows The Equal Wrongness of Killings Thesis to be incompatible with two further theses: The Unequal Wrongness of Renderings Unconscious Thesis and The Equivalence Thesis. Lippert-Rasmussen argues that, of the three, The Equal Wrongness of Killings Thesis is the least defensible. He suggests that the most convincing considerations apparently in favour of the Equal Wrongness thesis may be satisfied just as well if we adopt an alternative principle, a ‘Prioritarian View’ about the wrongness of killing. We argue that The Prioritarian View does not resolve the trilemma: it too is inconsistent with the other two theses. Instead, we argue, the most plausible resolution of the trilemma involves a rejection, rather, of The Unequal Wrongness of Renderings Unconscious Thesis. In its place, we offer an attractive principle that is compatible with both The Equal Wrongness of Killings Thesis as well as The Equivalence Thesis.
Document Type: Research Article
Affiliations: Daniel Cohen and Morgan Luck, School of Humanities and Social Sciences, Centre for Applied Philosophy and Public Ethics, Charles Sturt University, Boorooma Street, Locked Bag 678, Wagga Wagga NSW 2678, Australia.
Publication date: November 1, 2009