All or nothing, but if not all, next best or nothing
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Suppose two children face a deadly threat. You can either do nothing, save one child by sacrificing your arms, or save both by sacrificing your arms. Here are two plausible claims: first, it is permissible to do nothing; second, it is wrong to save only one. Joe Horton argues that the combination of these two claims has the implausible implication that if you are not going to save both children, you ought to save neither. This is one instance of what he calls the ALL OR NOTHING PROBLEM. I here present CONDITIONAL PERMISSIONS as the solution. Although saving only one child is wrong, it can be conditionally permissible, that is, permissible given what you are not going to do. You ought to save both children or save neither, but if you are not going to save both, you ought to do the next best thing (save one) or save neither.
Pummer , T 2019 , ' All or nothing, but if not all, next best or nothing ' , Journal of Philosophy , vol. 116 , no. 5 , pp. 278-291 . https://doi.org/10.5840/jphil2019116518
Journal of Philosophy
© 2019, The Journal of Philosophy. This work has been made available online in accordance with the publisher’s policies. This is the author created accepted version manuscript following peer review and as such may differ slightly from the final published version. The final published version of this work is available at https://doi.org/10.5840/jphil2019116518
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