I want to apologize in advance for the delay in this posting, and for the questionable way I’ve used the additional time. I’m afraid I lacked the discipline to adhere to the prescribed summary/critique format, or to frame my critique as questions for group discussion. I find Chapter 4 tremendously engaging but very frustrating. After some preliminaries, I intersperse criticism with exposition. This is partly to motivate Kamm’s arguments and further distinctions, but also, I admit, out of sheer impatience. In making this criticism, I offer some case-variants of my own; this imitation, however poor, should be taken as a sincere form of flattery. Anyway, I hope that I’ve succeeded in presenting enough of this Chapter’s striking, original, and idiosyncratic claims to provoke a lively discussion. Of course, you should consult the text of Chapter 4 closely, because I can’t vouch for the accuracy of my quotes or paraphrases, let alone my interpretations. I also apologize for the numerous typos you’ll come across, but I want to get this out while there are still a few days left for discussion.

Chapter 3, “Intention, Harm and the Possibility of a Unified Theory” is focused on responding to Warren Quinn’s attempt to provide and ground accounts of the Doctrine of Doing and Allowing (DDA) and the Doctrine of Double Effect (DDE) in two very interesting essays that were published as Chapters 7 and 8 of Morality and Action (CUP, 1993).

This chapter is split into three sections, which I will now summarise in turn, raising issues that invite further discussion as I go along.

The Kamm Poll
By S. Matthew Liao

Introducing…the Kamm Poll! As it is well known, Kamm tests and develops her theories and principles by means of intuitive judgments about cases. As we read Intricate Ethics, if there is a particular case of Kamm’s regarding which you may have a different intuition than Kamm, or if you just wish to see what other people think about the case, please post details for the case here including the page reference to her book. We will then try to run a poll on that particular case.

Chapter Two examines the question of ‘whether the numbers count’. Suppose that we can either save the life of one person, A, or the life of one other person, B. Let us assume for this and each other example that everything else of moral relevance is kept equal (they are all strangers, there is no pre-exisitng promise to save any of them etc.). Kamm holds that in such a case we should give each of them maximal equal chances of being saved: that is, we should flip a coin giving them each a 50% chance of being saved. Now suppose that the choice is between saving A or saving both B and C. Should we continue to decide by flipping a coin, or should we directly choose to save B and C? This is the question at the heart of Chapter Two.

The concept of human nature is an interesting one. This is partly because, although it’s a familiar concept, and one of which most people have at least a prima facie grasp; there are problems with arriving at a satisfactory, robust definition of it that will support normative philosophical claims. (For an account of some problems associated with defining human nature, see David Hull (1986) ‘On Human Nature‘, PSA 2: 3-13). In trying to understand it and work out how to tackle such problems, it’s interesting to look at similar concepts. One that I keep coming back to is the concept ‘physical’.

Chapter One contains a summary of Kamm’s two previous books, Morality, Mortality, volumes 1 and 2, and an overview of the key themes in Intricate Ethics. (Note: Kamm covered a lot of ground in this chapter, so my summary turned out also to be quite long. I experimented with making it shorter, but decided in the end to keep most of it in case it is useful to someone. I’m using her subheadings for easy navigation).

I’ve been doing some thinking about Michael Smith’s argument against externalism about motivation. To remind you, externalists about motivation – henceforth, externalists – deny that there is any conceptual or internal connection between making a moral judgment and being motivated (to some extent) to act on it. Internalists about motivation – henceforth, internalists – assert that there is such an internal connection between judgment and motivation.

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