Ignorance, Beneficence, and Rights

In: Journal of Moral Philosophy
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  • 1 Department of Linguistics and Philosophy, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

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I argue that ignorance of who will die makes a difference to the ethics of killing. It follows that reasons are subject to ‘specificity’: it can be rational to respond more strongly to facts that provide us with reasons than to the fact that such reasons exist. In the case of killing and letting die, these reasons are distinctively particular: they turn on personal acquaintance. The theory of rights must be, in part, a theory of this relation.

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