5 LEG 1 (1999)

handle is hein.journals/legthory5 and id is 1 raw text is: 










Legal Theory, 5 (1999), 1-44. Printed in the United States of America
Copyright @ Cambridge University Press 1352-3252/ 99 $9.50



RESCUE AND H ARM:


Discussion of Peter Unger's Living High

and   Letting   Die


FM.   Kamm




                         1. INTRODUCTION

Howmuch must   we sacrifice in order to stop strangers from suffering serious
losses, and does distance from them alter our obligations? When may we
harm  some people to help others? How can we best reason about these is-
sues? These are three general questions-the first two are substantive ones,
the third a methodological one-that Peter Unger discusses in his book Liv-
ingHigh andLettingDie(hereinafter LHLD) and that I discuss in this article.1
  Substantively, I believe the book moves as follows: Show that quite gener-
ally we must suffer loss of property to stop others' mortal loss; show that
quite generally we may impose  such loss of property on third parties to
prevent mortal losses; show that quite generally we may impose mortal loss
on third parties to prevent greater mortal losses to others; show that quite
generally, we must suffer mortal loss to prevent greater mortal losses to
others, to the point where we have a moral duty quite generally to give up
our life to save two lives. Hence, the movement is, for the most part, from
what we may do to others, to what we are then required to do to ourselves.
  Methodologically, the central aim is to prove that many  distinctions
between  cases in which we or others would suffer losses, distinctions to
which some  nonconsequentialists attribute moral significance, do not mat-
ter morally (This is why I have said quite generally in describing the
substantive results.) These include the distinction between harming some-
one so that he suffers mortally and not aiding him when he suffers mortally,
and harming  someone  by redirecting a threat to him and harming him by
using him to stop a threat.
  The  procedure for showing this is threefold. First, propose that general
reflection (rather than reflection on cases) reveals our basic primaryvalues,
and these leave no room for the importance of many distinctions between
cases, relative to the aim of preventing mortal loss. Second, show that

  1. Peter Unger, LIVING HIGH AND LETTING DIE (1996).

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