San Diego Law Review


Alec Walen

Library of Congress Authority File


Document Type



My strategy for defending the right of non-sacrifice and the connected agent–patient inference is to move through a series of cases, starting with easy cases—clearly permissible acts of non-sacrifice—and moving to more controversial ones. The controversial cases are those in which intervening agency is central to explaining why an agent should have the right of non-sacrifice. My argument will not simply be an attempt to explain intuitions. I take the intuitions on the easy cases to be reliable, but once we move to controversial cases, I think moral intuitions become unreliable. My argument fundamentally trades on two thoughts: (1) there is an account of the easy cases that is deeply grounded in important fundamental principles, and (2) these principles can be extended to give us a plausible set of answers for the controversial cases.

Along the way, I will engage with a number of difficult issues, the two most important of which are problems with counterfactuals and the significance of intervening agency. But first I argue that it is only the claim not to have to sacrifice oneself that is strong. That is, I argue in the next Part that we have strong negative agent-claims, which is a very different proposition from saying that we have “agent-centered prerogatives” to favor ourselves.