Killing and Letting Die

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Critical Report: P.R. Foot, ‘Killing and Letting Die
Philippa Foot’s calculated article entitled, ‘Killing and Letting Die’ is one which provides arguments through hypothetical situation’s, discrediting opinions and beliefs of other modern philosophers. Its main cause is to locate moral differentiation between the active taking of life versus allowing death to occur by means of not producing assistance. Afterwards Foot applies these beliefs onto the sub-topic of abortion, highlighting flawed examples of pro-abortion arguments she then counters these with her own strong outlooks. In this critical report I intend to analyse the relevance and application of Foot’s arguments highlighting both strengths and weaknesses in Foot’s judgements.

Foot opens by expressing that in specific circumstances, for instance our negligence to end third world starvation as opposed to the giving of poisoned food to these starving individuals, our moral agency has a role. This is a sound argument, we have sufficient resources to end starvation with little if any detriment to ourselves yet we fail to provide. This failure is just as morally wrong as providing poisoned food. This is not to say Foot believes killing and allowing to die are the same. It is merely her belief in this particular circumstance that they are not morally dissimilar.

Proceeding this is a hypothetical proposal of two circumstances: One, in which 6 individuals are reliant on the intake of a certain rare drug. One individual requires the full quota of this specific medification in order to live, thus the other five would not receive the drug and would consequentially die. It is therefore clear to Foot that the five should receive the drug and regrettably allow this individual to die.

The other, where five persons require organs and to save their life one patient is killed to obtain these for the five in need.

The clear moral distinction between these two is the role played by moral agency. We play our...
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