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San Diego Law Review

Authors

Larry Alexander

Library of Congress Authority File

http://id.loc.gov/authorities/names/n79122466.html http://id.loc.gov/authorities/names/n85055472.html

Document Type

Article

Abstract

In his 1989 law review article, Torture and the Balance of Evils,' later republished as Chapter Seventeen in Placing Blame, Michael Moore declares himself to be a "threshold deontologist." What he means is this: There are some acts that are morally wrong despite producing a net positive balance of consequences; but if the positive balance of consequences becomes sufficiently great-especially if it does so by averting horrible consequences as opposed to merely making people quite well off-then one is morally permitted, and perhaps required, to engage in those acts that are otherwise morally prohibited. Thus, one may not kill or torture an innocent person in order to save two or three other innocent people from death or torture-even though purely consequentialist considerations might dictate otherwise. However, if the number of innocent people who can be saved from death or torture gets sufficiently large, then what was morally proscribed-the killing or torture of an innocent person-becomes morally permissible or

mandatory. At a certain number of lives at risk-the Threshold- consequentialist moral principles override deontological ones.

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