suppose an ER doctor has to perform an operation on a person who murdered his wife (an assassination, say), otherwise the person dies.i submit that the doctor is not guilty of murder if he lets the person die, and he is morally innocent (no matter at what distance in time the 2 events occur). i also claim that another doctor who has no business with the person is guilty of murder if he lets him die.
i am not using ‘murder’ in a strict legal sense,although i think the law should reflect this distinction of moral status between the two doctors (to the extent to which their motivations are determinable:if the first doctor lets the person die without knowing that he is in the presence of the assassin of his wife, then the doctor is guilty).
i have offered no argument for these claims, i am only submitting them to your intuitions.what is the point of all this?its only that judgments like ‘murder is murder anyway you look at it’ are too hasty, and that people’s feelings should count perhaps more in ethics.but i am also open to the suggestion that this example shows nothing of the kind.maybe it doesn’t show anything,that’s also possible.in that case, i apologize for wasting people’s time.
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