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When Killing is Worse than Letting Die

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Consider two plausible ethical claims: (1) It's much worse to kill someone for money than it is to refrain from saving a life due to the monetary cost. (2) There's no intrinsic or fundamental significance to the distinctions between doing and allowing, killing vs letting die, etc. (It's notoriously difficult to give a sound metaphysical account of these distinctions that seems to be getting at anything fundamentally important, after all.) Together, these points suggest that we should want to account for such distinctions having a kind of indirect significance -- say, by typically correlating with something else that has intrinsic significance.What might that "something else" be?  One striking thing about the ill-doer (in contrast to the ill-allower) is that their presence makes things worse than if they hadn't been there at all.  I don't think that necessarily makes any difference from the agent's perspective (they have just as strong a reason to prevent bad outcomes as they do to refrain from causing bad outcomes; there's no reason for them to privilege the status quo in their deliberations).  But it may make a difference to how others should regard the agent.  It could make sense for others to fear the ill-doer, for example, whereas there's typically no reason to fear an ill-allower who makes no difference to the situation. (Exceptions arise in "pre-emption" cases where a malicious ill-allower is ready & willing to do harm, but found it wasn't necessary because their victim was already in a pickle even without their intervention.  This suggests that the more fundamental feature of concern here is the disposition to do harm.)While that's a difference of a sort, it doesn't make a difference to the moral status of the act (/omission) of the sort we typically expect here.  So I don't think we have the full answer yet.  But it may at least point us in the right direction.  In particular,. . .

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