Aboodi, Borer and Enoch 2008

Ron Aboodi, Adi Borer, and David Enoch, "Deontology, Individualism, and Uncertainty: A Reply to Jackson and Smith,Journal of Philosophy 105:5 (2008), 259-272.

How should deontological theories that prohibit actions of type K — such as intentionally killing an innocent person — deal with cases of uncertainty as to whether a particular action is of type K? Frank Jackson and Michael Smith, who raise this problem in their paper “Absolutist Moral Theories and Uncertainty” (2006), focus on a case where a skier is about to cause the death of ten innocent people — we don’t know for sure whether on purpose or not — by causing an avalanche; and we can only save the people by shooting the skier. One possible deontological attitude towards such uncertainty is what Jackson and Smith call the threshold view, according to which whether or not the deontological constraint applies depends on our degree of (justified) certainty meets a given threshold. Jackson and Smith argue against the threshold view that it leads to implausible paradoxical moral dilemmas in a special kind of case. In this response, we show that the threshold view can avoid these implausible moral dilemmas, as long as the relevant deontological constraint is grounded in individualistic patient-based considerations, such as what an individual person is entitled to object to.

Link to the paper at Jstor: http://www.jstor.org/stable/20620097

Cited in more than 15 papers - see most citations

Note: Adi Borer has changed her name to Adi Pollak and is now a practicing Clinical Psychologist.