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Is it permissible to kill a non-responsible threat?


Samuel Ebert

About Samuel

I thank Nicolas Wuethrich for his helpful comments on an earlier draft of this paper.

Samuel Ebert is a third year BSc Philosophy, Logic and the Scientic Method student. His main eld of interest is moral philosophy

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It is generally agreed that one may not save their own life by sacrificing the life of an innocent bystander. Otsuka argues that the killing of a non-responsible threat - defined by McMahan as a person who without justification threatens to harm someone in a way to which she is not liable, but who is in no way morally responsible for doing so - is morally equivalent to the killing of an innocent bystander and hence should not be permitted even in cases of self-defence. I argue that it is permissible to kill a non-responsible threat even though it is not permissible to kill an innocent bystander and point to the unjustified threat posed to one's life as the differentiating factor. I argue that moral responsibility is only a consideration in terms of punishment and desert but not in the neutralisation of a threat.

How to Cite: Ebert, S., 2015. Is it permissible to kill a non-responsible threat?. Rerum Causae, 8(1), pp.11–21.
Published on 01 Jan 2015.
Peer Reviewed


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