Morality, Mortality: Volume I: Death and Whom to Save from It (Oxford Ethics Series)

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9780195077896: Morality, Mortality: Volume I: Death and Whom to Save from It (Oxford Ethics Series)

Why is death bad for us, even on the assumption that it involves the absence of experience? Is it worse for us than prenatal nonexistence? Kamm begins by considering these questions, critically examining some answers other philosophers have given. She explores in detail suggestions based on our greater concern over the loss of future versus past goods and those based on the insult to persons which death involves. In the second part, Kamm deals with the question, "Whom should we save from death if we cannot save everyone?" She considers whether and when the numbers of lives we can save matter in our choice, and whether the extra good we achieve if we save some lives rather than others should play a role in deciding whom to save. Issues such as fairness, solidarity, the role of random decision procedures, and the relation between subjective and objective points of view are discussed, with an eye to properly incorporating these into a nonconsequentialist ethical theory. In conclusion, the book examines specifically what differences between persons are relevant to the distribution of any scarce resource, discussing for example, the distribution (and acquisition) of bodily organs for transplantation. Kamm provides criticism of some current procedures for distribution and acquisition of a scarce resource and makes suggestions for alternatives.

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About the Author:

F. M. Kamm is at New York University.


"Challenging, fascinating, and frequently brilliant....An imaginative, deeply engaging philosophical adventure."--Ethics

"[A] major the literature of philosophical bioethics, and all libraries collecting in and scholars working in this area need to have [a] cop[y]....Required reading for all those interested in the theoretical issues raised by bioethical problems."--Medical Humanities Review

"A mass of sincere, intense, intricate, fascinating and usually persuasive argument[s]....The great advantage of Kamm's intuitive method is that it gives proper attention to moral considerations....Kamm is by far the most detailed and painstaking analysis of fairness in this context that I know of....This book moves the philosophical discussion of life and death a long way forward."--Times Literary Supplement

"One of the most imaginative and insightful books in ethics published in recent years."--Hastings Center Report

"An intellectually challenging work which raises and discusses issues which should be widely debated, not only by specialists but by the public at large."--Journal of the Institute of Health Education

"Frances Kamm's magisterial and pioneering study of distribution problems in life and death situations is a seminal work in this area. There can be little doubt that Morality, Mortality will quickly become, in debates concerning the sorts of distribution problems Kamm is concerned with, what Rawls's Theory of Justice is for more general debates about distributive justice.... No one interested in the debate can afford not to read it." --Journal of Medical Ethics

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