Killing and Rescuing: The Case for Revising Necessity
Kieran Oberman (University of Edinburgh)

April 26, 2018, 4:15pm - 6:15pm
School of Historical and Philosophical Studies, The University of Melbourne

Jim Potter Room, Old Physics
The University of Melbourne
Melbourne 3010
Australia

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Defensive killing is subject to a necessity condition. One cannot justify killing on defence grounds if killing is unnecessary. But when is killing unnecessary? The standard view is that killing someone to save others from a threat can only be rendered unnecessary by an alternative that rescues the same people from the same threat. This article defends a revisionary view of necessity according to which killing can sometimes be rendered unnecessary by an alternative that rescues the same people from a different threat or different people from a different threat. The revisionary view has radical implications for the real world. In a world with so much poverty and disease, there are many opportunities for peaceful rescue. If the revisionary view is correct, defensive killing is much harder to justify than previously assumed.

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