more from Jonathan Glover

Single Idea 4658

[catalogued under 24. Applied Ethics / A. Decision Conflicts / 5. Omissions]

Full Idea

The acts and omissions doctrine says failure to perform an act, when there are foreseen bad consequences of the failure, is usually better than performing a different act which has the same foreseen consequences.

Gist of Idea

Acts and Omissions: bad consequences are morally better if they result from an omission rather than an act


Jonathan Glover (Causing Death and Saving Lives [1977], 7)

Book Reference

Glover,Jonathan: 'Causing Death and Saving Lives' [Penguin 1982], p.92

A Reaction

Is it better if my neglect causes famine in Ethiopia than if my theft causes it? Glover (a consequentialist) rejects this. Depends. What are reasonable expectations? Acts set an example. Minor bad acts are clearly better than callous negligence.