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Taking LifeThree Theories on the Ethics of Killing$
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Torbjorn Tannsjo

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780190225575

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: June 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190225575.001.0001

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What Are We to Believe?

What Are We to Believe?

(p.263) Chapter 12 What Are We to Believe?
Taking Life

Torbjörn Tännsjö

Oxford University Press

Utilitarianism has fared better than the competing theories. Yet there is one intuition it cannot cater for: it is wrong to kill a person, even if it is in his own best interest, where he knows everything about his bleak future and still wants to stay alive. An attempt is made to construct a common sense morality that can cater for this and the other considered intuitions. The attempt fails. The recalcitrant intuition is then reconsidered and debunked. In the final analysis, utilitarianism has proved to be the only theory in the competition that is intuitively adequate, i.e., consistent with all our considered intuitions within the field of the ethics of killing. And we may conclude from utilitarianism that it is indeed right to kill the person in his own best interest.

Keywords:   particularism, intuitionism, common sense morality, Jonathan Dancy, W. D. Ross, Shelly Kagan

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