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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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Survival Lotteries

Survival Lotteries

(p.191) Chapter 9 Survival Lotteries
Taking Life

Torbjörn Tännsjö

Oxford University Press

Survival lotteries play a considerable role in philosophers’ thinking on the ethics of killing. They have also entered popular culture. The lotteries are not widely accepted, yet they seem to be reasonable, if only we can set some of our taboos to one side. In this chapter, deontology, the moral rights theory, and utilitarianism are confronted with famous ‘survival lotteries’. Here this chapter examines cases such as John Harris’s organ lottery, John Taurek’s rescue lottery, and Gilbert Harman’s ‘organ’ thought experiments. In the final analysis, it is argued that utilitarianism can best explain our considered intuitions in relation to these lotteries. It is possible to debunk intuitions commonly held to the opposite effect, once they are submitted to cognitive psychotherapy.

Keywords:   survival lotteries, John Harris, John Taurek, Gilbert Harman, cannibalism

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