ABSTRACT: Two strangers face a deadly threat. You can either do nothing, sacrifice your legs in a way that would save one stranger, or sacrifice your legs in a way that would save both. Suppose it is permissible to do nothing. Could it nonetheless be impermissible to sacrifice your legs in a way that would save just one stranger? I argue that some such altruistic acts are impermissible and yet more praiseworthy than permissibly doing nothing. The view I defend has important practical implications for charitable giving, career choice, health care allocation, and war.
Theron Pummer is currently a Senior Lecturer in Philosophy at the University of St Andrews. He is also the Director of the St Andrews Centre for Ethics, Philosophy and Public Affairs. He was previously a Plumer Junior Research Fellow at St Anne's College at the University of Oxford, and he earned his PhD from the University of California, San Diego in 2013. Pummer focuses on problems in ethical theory, metaphysics, and practical ethics. His articles have appeared in The Journal of Philosophy, Philosophical Studies, Oxford Studies in Normative Ethics, Philosophy and Public Affairs, The Philosophical Review, and Analysis (for links to his publications, please visit his website). He co-edited a volume titled Effective Altruism: Philosophical Issues, which was just published with Oxford University Press in September 2019.
Brian Berkey is Assistant Professor of Legal Studies and Business Ethics, and of Philosophy, at the University of Pennsylvania.
Peter Singer will chair.