What makes killing wrong?
- 1Department of Philosophy and Kenan Institute for Ethics, Duke University, Durham, North Carolina, USA
- 2Department of Bioethics, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland, USA
- Correspondence to Walter Sinnott-Armstrong, Kenan Institute for Ethics, Duke University, Box 90432, Durham, NC 27708, USA;
- Received 2 November 2011
- Revised 13 December 2011
- Accepted 16 December 2011
- Published Online First 19 January 2012
What makes an act of killing morally wrong is not that the act causes loss of life or consciousness but rather that the act causes loss of all remaining abilities. This account implies that it is not even pro tanto morally wrong to kill patients who are universally and irreversibly disabled, because they have no abilities to lose. Applied to vital organ transplantation, this account undermines the dead donor rule and shows how current practices are compatible with morality.
The opinions expressed here are those of the authors and do not reflect the position or policy of the National Institutes of Health, the Public Health Service or the Department of Health and Human Services.
Competing interests None.
Provenance and peer review Commissioned; internally peer reviewed.