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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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(p.79) Chapter 4 Murder
Taking Life

Torbjörn Tännsjö

Oxford University Press

In murder we meet with a kind of killing where the death of the victim is intended. Does this mean that murder is always wrong? This chapter tackles the implications of deontology, the moral rights theory, and utilitarianism for this question. In addition, the chapter highlights a particular complication in regard to this topic: the difficulty of making a distinction between whether an individual act of murder is morally permissible and whether murder should ever be legal. This distinction, however, is real, and it remains so for all three theories. One claim of this chapter is that the intention portion of murder does not play the crucial role we may have thought, once our intuitions are submitted to cognitive psychotherapy. In fact, none of the examined theories are able to explain all of our considered intuitions about murder.

Keywords:   murder, intentional killing, why legal issues, life-saving murders, murder obviating rights-violations

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