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On ‘What makes killing wrong?’
  1. Julia Driver
  1. Correspondence to Professor Julia Driver, Department of Philosophy, Washington University in St. Louis, Box 1073, One Brookings Dr., St. Louis, MO 63130, USA; jdriver{at}

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Walter Sinnott-Armstrong and Franklin Miller1 make a convincing case for their claim that what is wrong about killing someone is that one is putting the person in a state of universal and irreversible disability. Thus, killing in and of itself is not an additional harm for a person who has been universally and irreversibly disabled. The implications for such a view are, as they note, quite wide-ranging. Given advances in medical technology, there are individuals being kept alive now who are universally and irreversibly disabled. Not only would death not be viewed as an additional harm, but it may also be the case that the organs of such individuals should be made available to save the lives of those who are not universally and irreversibly disabled. Given how Sinnott-Armstrong and Miller spell out what universal and irreversible mean, I am in broad …

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  • Competing interests None.

  • Provenance and peer review Commissioned; internally peer reviewed.

  • iLectures on Ethics, translated by Louis Infield (Indianapolis, Indiana, USA: Hackett Publishing Co., 1963): ‘Our duties towards animals are merely indirect duties towards humanity. Animal nature has analogies to human nature, and by doing our duties to animals in respect of manifestations which correspond to manifestations of human nature, we indirectly do our duty towards humanity.’ (p. 239)

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