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Kantian Consequentialism$
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David Cummiskey

Print publication date: 1996

Print ISBN-13: 9780195094534

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2003

DOI: 10.1093/0195094530.001.0001

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The Sacrifices of the Innocent

The Sacrifices of the Innocent

Chapter:
(p.140) 8 The Sacrifices of the Innocent
Source:
Kantian Consequentialism
Author(s):

David Cummiskey (Contributor Webpage)

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/0195094530.003.0008

It is a basic structural feature of consequentialism that (at least in principle) it may sometimes require the sacrifice of the innocent. Chs. 5 and 6 argued that respect for persons involves both positive and negative duties. The problem at issue is thus the competing demands of the conflicting duties, or grounds of obligation, that confront us when the only way to save some involves sacrificing others. In these types of tragic cases, a commitment to the equal unconditional value of all persons should lead moral agents to recognize the legitimacy of their own sacrifice to save others. If a sacrifice is rationally defensible to the sacrificed, then it also respects human dignity and treats rational nature as an end‐in‐itself. This chapter also discusses the limits of beneficence, self‐sacrifice, and the nature of justified coercion.

Keywords:   beneficence, coercion, conflicting duties, consequentialism, end‐in‐itself, human dignity, innocent, negative duties, positive duties, respect for persons, sacrifice, self‐sacrifice

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