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Grant number like: FA-52479-06

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Kadri Vihvelin
University of Southern California (Los Angeles, CA 90089-0012)

Fellowships for University Teachers
Research Programs

$40,000 (approved)
$40,000 (awarded)

Grant period:
9/1/2006 – 8/31/2007

Our Doings and What We Allow

Commonsense tells us that there is a moral difference between doing harm and merely allowing it, that killing is morally worse than letting die. But philosophers have found it hard to say what the difference is or why it matters morally. I offer an account of the difference and argue for its moral significance in the context of debates about euthanasia, abortion and "Bad Samaritan" laws. Common sense moral theory emerges from this analysis as coherent, subtle, and inherently deontological. Understanding the difference between doing and allowing makes it possible to frame a coherent alternative to consequentialism in ethics.