How Deontologists Can Be Moderate (and Why They Should Be)

  • Christa M. JohnsonEmail author


A series of nuclear devices is about to go off that will kill every inhabitant from Washington D.C. to Boston. Janik discovers the plot and learns that the bomb can be deactivated only by accessing a detonator placed inside an innocent bystander. The detonator has been placed so that it cannot be retrieved without killing the innocent.

Meanwhile, on the West Coast, five innocent people are dying; each needs an organ transplant to survive. Leona, a surgeon at the hospital, stumbles upon the chart of an innocent, healthy patient, visiting for a routine check-up. This sixth patient is a perfect match for each of the five dying patients.

Ought Janik kill the innocent bystander to save millions of lives? Ought Leona kill the innocent patient to save her five dying patients? According to absolute deontologists, both Janik and Leona are constrained from killing an innocent person, regardless of any good it might do. Persons are never to be treated as means to some other end, even...


Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Oberlin CollegeOberlinUSA

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