Killing and Saving: Abortion, Hunger, and War

Paperback | June 11, 2004

byJohn P. J R. Reeder

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Contrary to the views of Alasdair MacIntyre and others who assert that modern Western morality is in disarray, torn by incommensurable moral views, John Reeder believes that there is much agreement about taking and saving lives. Many people might, in fact, agree on the various circumstances in which the death of a person constitutes a violation of the right to life, or that people have a right to our help, especially a right to life-saving aid.

In Killing and Saving, Reeder analyzes five sorts of situations in which we are morally permitted or even obligated to take human life: e.g., when we repel an attacker who voluntarily "forfeits" the right to life; when we are confronted with "involuntary pursuit" or "material aggression"; when someone "yields" the right to life; when all will die if nothing is done, but some can be saved if others are killed; and when there is a "double effect" in which we take life as a foreseen but unintended consequence of attempt to achieve a greater good. Reeder argues that these (and closely related) categories account for many of our convictions ranging from abortion to infanticide, to starvation, to war. He also examines the concept of absolute or exceptionless right to life.

Reeder draws on a number of moral views, from theological ethics to Enlightenment notions of natural rights or respect for rational creatures. He does not attempt to argue for a foundation for the right not to be killed and the right to be saved. Rather, he focuses on the content of the convictions themselves and argues that where disagreements remain, such as the case of abortion, they can be accounted for by the way the rights in question are explained and justified.

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Contrary to the views of Alasdair MacIntyre and others who assert that modern Western morality is in disarray, torn by incommensurable moral views, John Reeder believes that there is much agreement about taking and saving lives. Many people might, in fact, agree on the various circumstances in which the death of a person constitutes a ...

John P. Reeder, Jr., is Professor of Religious Studies at Brown University and author of Source, Sanction, and Salvation: Religion and Morality in Judaic and Christian Traditions (1988).

other books by John P. J R. Reeder

Format:PaperbackDimensions:248 pages, 9 × 6 × 0.56 inPublished:June 11, 2004Publisher:Penn State University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0271024887

ISBN - 13:9780271024882

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“Through the careful, painstaking analysis of arguments, the author builds his own framework and draws his conclusion about an absolute right in a way that never fails to illuminate and instruct and, for the most part, to convince. This book will make an important contribution to the scholarly literature. It can also be consulted by those who are less academically inclined and used in college courses.”—James Childress, University of Virginia