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The scope of the means principle

Parry, Jonathan (2022) The scope of the means principle. Journal of Moral Philosophy. ISSN 1740-4681

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Identification Number: 10.1163/17455243-20213602


This paper focuses on Quong's account of the scope of the means principle (the range of actions over which the special constraint on using a person applies). One the key ideas underpinning Quong's approach is that the means principle is downstream from an independent and morally prior account of our rights over the world and against one another. I raise three challenges to this 'rights first' approach. First, I consider Quong's treatment of harmful omissions and argue that Quong's view generates counter-intuitive results. Second, I argue that cases of harmful omissions raise problems for Quong's claim that intentions are irrelevant to permissibility. Third, I consider Quong's extension of the means principle to include uses of persons' rightfully-owned property. I suggest that, contra Quong, questions of distributive justice are not morally prior to the ethics of defensive harm. Instead the two normative domains mutually inform one another.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: © 2021 The Author
Divisions: Philosophy, Logic and Scientific Method
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > B Philosophy (General)
B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BJ Ethics
Date Deposited: 06 Dec 2021 10:39
Last Modified: 19 Jul 2024 21:48

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