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Frowe, Helen, , . Defensive Killing: An Essay on War and Self-Defence
2014, Oxford: Oxford University Press
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Added by: John Baldari, Contributed by:

Abstract: Most people believe that it is sometimes morally permissible for a person to use force to defend herself or others against harm. In Defensive Killing, Helen Frowe offers a detailed exploration of when and why the use of such force is permissible. She begins by considering the use of force between individuals, investigating both the circumstances under which an attacker forfeits her right not to be harmed, and the distinct question of when it is all-things-considered permissible to use force against an attacker. Frowe then extends this enquiry to war, defending the view that we should judge the ethics of killing in war by the moral rules that govern killing between individuals. She argues that this requires us to significantly revise our understanding of the moral status of non-combatants in war. Non-combatants who intentionally contribute to an unjust war forfeit their rights not to be harmed, such that they are morally liable to attack by combatants fighting a just war.

Comment: This text should be used in modules focused on self-defense, responsibility, and justice.
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Harman, Elizabeth, , . Can we harm and benefit in creating?
2004,
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Added by: Clotilde Torregrossa, Contributed by: Simon Fokt

Abstract: The non-identity problem concerns actions that affect who exists in the future. If such an action is performed, certain people will exist in the future who would not otherwise have existed: they are not identical to any of the people who would have existed if the action had not been performed. Some of these actions seem to be wrong, and they seem to be wrong in virtue of harming the very future individuals whose existence is dependent on their having been performed. The problem arises when it is argued that the actions do not harm these people – because the actions do not make them worse off than they would otherwise be.1 Consider: Radioactive Waste Policy: We are trying to decide whether to adopt a permissive radioactive waste policy. This policy would be less inconvenient to us than our existing practices. If we enact the newly-proposed policy, then we will cause there to be radioactive pollution that will cause illness and suffering. However, the policy will have such significant effects on public policy and industry functioning, that different people will exist in the future depending on whether we enact the policy. Two things should be emphasized. First, the illness and suffering caused will be very serious: deformed babies, children with burns from acid rain, and adults dying young from cancer. Second, the policy will affect who will exist in the future because our present practices invade people’s everyday lives, for example by affecting recycling practices in the home; these practices will change if the policy is adopted. Furthermore, whether we adopt the policy will determine which plants are built where, what jobs are available, and what trucks are on the road. These effects will create small differences in everyone’s lives which ultimately affect who meets whom and who conceives with whom, or at least when people conceive. This affects who exists in the future.

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Miller, Sarah Clark, , . Moral Injury and Relational Harm: Analyzing Rape in Darfur
2009, Journal of Social Philosophy, 40 (4): 504-523.
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Added by: Rochelle DuFord, Contributed by:

Abstract: Rather than focusing on the legal and political questions that surround genocidal rape, in this paper I treat a vital area of inquiry that has received much less attention: the moral significance of genocidal rape. My aim is to augment existing moral accounts of rape in order to address the specific contexts of genocidal rape. I move beyond understanding rape primarily as a violation of an individual’s interests or agential abilities. The account I offer builds on these approaches (as well as on a pluralist approach), by arguing that rape, as a moral injury, negatively affects the very human dignity of victims. My account also emphasizes the relational harm that marks genocidal rape.

Comment: This paper offers a compelling argument about the harm of rape as a means of inflicting genocidal violence, via an analysis of the widespread rapes in Darfur. While the text does not concern itself with the legal aspects of rape as a crime against humanity, it would lend itself well to a course concerning crimes against humanity, international criminal law, or the ethics of war. Additionally, it could be taught within the context of a course that discusses what sort of harm rape constitutes.

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Purdy, Laura M., , . Genetics and reproductive risk : Can having children be immoral?
2010, In Craig Hanks (ed.), Technology and Values: Essential Readings. Wiley-Blackwell.
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Added by: Clotilde Torregrossa, Contributed by: Simon Fokt

Abstract: Is it morally permissible for me to have children? 1A decision to procreate is surely one of the most significant decisions a person can make. So it would seem that it ought not to be made without some moral soul-searching. There are many reasons why one might hesitate to bring children into this world if one is concerned about their welfare. Some are rather general, like the deteriorating environment or the prospect of poverty. Others have a narrower focus, like continuing civil war in Ireland, or the lack of essential social support for childrearing persons in the United States. Still others may be relevant only to individuals at risk of passing harmful diseases to their offspring. There are many causes of misery in this world, and most of them are unrelated to genetic disease. In the general scheme of things, human misery is most efficiently reduced by concentrating on noxious social and political arrangements. Nonetheless, we shouldn’t ignore preventable harm just because it is confined to a relatively small corner of life. So the question arises: can it be wrong to have a child because of genetic risk factors?2Unsurprisingly, most of the debate about this issue has focused on prenatal screening and abortion: much useful information about a given fetus can be made available by recourse to prenatal testing. This fact has meant that moral questions about reproduction have become entwined with abortion politics, to the detriment of both. The abortion connection has made it especially difficult to think about whether it is wrong to Prevent a child from coming into being since doing so might involve what many people see as wrongful killing; yet there is no necessary link between the two. Clearly, the existence of genetically compromised children can be prevented not only by aborting already existing fetuses but also by preventing conception in the first place. Worse yet, many discussions simply assume a particular view of abortion, without any recognition of other possible positions and the difference they make in how people understand the issues. For example, those who object to aborting fetuses with genetic problems often argue that doing so would undermine our conviction that all humans are in some important senseequal.3 However, this position rests on the assumption that conception marks the point at which humans are endowed with a right to life. So aborting fetuses with genetic problems looks morally the same as killing “imperfect” people without their consent. This position raises two separate issues. One pertains to the legitimacy of different views on abortion. Despite the conviction of many abortion activists to the contrary, I believe that ethically respectable views can be found on different sides of the debate, including one that sees fetuses as developing humans without any serious moral claim on continued life. There is no space here to address the details, and doing so would be once again to fall into the trap of letting the abortion question swallow up all others. Fortunately, this issue need not be resolved here. However, opponents of abortion need to face the fact that many thoughtful individuals do not see fetuses as moral persons. It follows that their reasoning process and hence the implications of their decisions are radically different from those envisioned by opponents of prenatal screening and abortion. So where the latter see genetic abortion as murdering people who just don’t mea-sure up, the former see it as a way to prevent the development of persons who are more likely to live miserable lives. This is consistent with a worldview that values persons equally and holds that each deserves high quality life. Some of those who object to genetic abortion appear to be oblivious to these psychological and logical facts. It follows that the nightmare scenarios they paint for us are beside the point: many people simply do not share the assumptions that make them plausible. How are these points relevant to my discussion? My primary concern here is to argue that conception can sometimes be morally wrong on grounds of genetic risk, although this judgment will not apply to those who accept the moral legitimacy of abortion and are willing to employ pre-natal screening and selective abortion. If my case is solid, then those who oppose abortion must be especially careful not to conceive in certain cases, as they are, of course, free to follow their conscrence about abortion. Those like myself who do not see abortion as murder have more ways to prevent birth.

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Rhodes, Rosamond, , . The professional responsibilities of medicine
2007, In Rosamond Rhodes, Leslie Francis & Anita Silvers (eds.), The Blackwell Guide to Medical Ethics. Blackwell.
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Added by: Clotilde Torregrossa, Contributed by: Simon Fokt

Publisher’s Note: The Blackwell Guide to Medical Ethics is a guide to the complex literature written on the increasingly dense topic of ethics in relation to the new technologies of medicine. Examines the key ethical issues and debates which have resulted from the rapid advances in biomedical technology Brings together the leading scholars from a wide range of disciplines, including philosophy, medicine, theology and law, to discuss these issues Tackles such topics as ending life, patient choice, selling body parts, resourcing and confidentiality Organized with a coherent structure that differentiates between the decisions of individuals and those of social policy

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Roberts, Melinda A., , . The Nonidentity Problem
2013, E. N. Zalta (ed.), Stanford encyclopedia of philosophy [electronic resource]
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Added by: Simon Fokt, Contributed by:

Introduction: The nonidentity problem focuses on the obligations we think we have in respect of people who, by our own acts, are caused both to exist and to have existences that are, though worth having, unavoidably flawed – existences, that is, that are flawed if those people are ever to have them at all. If a person’s existence is unavoidably flawed, then the agent’s only alternatives to bringing that person into the flawed existence are to bring no one into existence at all or to bring a different person – a nonidentical but better off person – into existence in place of the person whose existence is flawed. If the existence is worth having and no one else’s interests are at stake, it is unclear on what ground morality would insist that the choice to bring the one person into the flawed existence is morally wrong. And yet at the same time – as we shall see – it seems that in some cases that choice clearly is morally wrong. The nonidentity problem is the problem of resolving this apparent paradox.

The problem raises the question whether the (usually significant) good that an agent confers along with existence counterbalances the (usually limited) bad that an agent confers along with any unavoidably flawed existence in such a way that our existence-inducing act (usually) will be deemed permissible. And if it isn’t – if we think instead that obligations are left unsatisfied despite the good that comes with existence – is the moral of the story that moral obligation extends beyond what we must do for people? If we agree, in other words, that it is our obligation to create additional good, is it enough that we create additional good for each and every existing and future person? Or does the nonidentity problem show that our focus should instead be on creating additional good for the universe? As we query how to evaluate existence-inducing acts for their moral permissibility – as well as outcomes or possible futures or worlds, for their moral betterness against still other worlds – we find that some of our most deeply held intuitions regarding the nature and structure of morality are thrown into doubt.

Comment: This text offers a comprehensive introduction to the nonidentity problem and lists several illustrative thought experiments and examples used in the literature. It is a very helpful introductory or further reading for any topic which touches on the nonidentity problem.

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Woollard, Fiona, , . Doing and Allowing Harm
2015, Oxford University Press
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Added by: Simon Fokt, Contributed by: Lizzy Ventham

Abstract: Fiona Woollard presents an original defence of the Doctrine of Doing and Allowing, according to which doing harm seems much harder to justify than merely allowing harm. She argues that the Doctrine is best understood as a principle that protects us from harmful imposition, and offers a moderate account of our obligations to offer aid to others.

Comment: This book gives a great overview to the debate about the difference between doing and allowing harm, as well as advancing its own view. I recommend it as further reading on courses in a number of topics, including any that cover non-consequentialism and those that cover certain applied ethical topics. Woollard also co-authors the stanford encyclopedia entry on the same topic, which I also include in my reading lists.

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