It is often thought that the hard core of our moral obligations - the social minimum, so to speak - is that we do no harm. Regardless of what may be virtuous, supererogatory, or obligatory in making the world a better place, at a minimum we should not make it a worse one. Further, we make the world a worse place whenever we worsen it compared to the way the world would have been without our actions. On this view, our actions must make a difference for us to violate our basic obligations. What gets recorded in our moral ledgers are the bad states of affairs that would not have existed but for our actions. our actions, were, in a word, necessary to the bad states of affairs for which we are responsible.
For What Must We Pay? Causation and Counterfactual Baselines,
San Diego L. Rev.
Available at: https://digital.sandiego.edu/sdlr/vol40/iss4/6