Category Archives: Frances Kamm

F. M. Kamm

Nonconsequentialists argue for the moral importance of many distinctions in how we bring about states of affairs. I try to present and consider the elements of some of these distinctions. A good deal of section I focuses on providing a replacement for a simple harming/not-aiding distinction and revising and even jettisoning the significance for permissibility of conduct of the intention/foresight distinction. A good deal of section III is concerned with examining the possible moral significance of other distinctions (collaboration versus independent action; near versus far). Some moral philosophers (such as Singer and Unger) think that many nonconsequentialist distinctions have no moral importance, and other philosophers (such as Gert) employ distinctions other than harming/nod-aiding and intending/foreseeing. The work of yet others (Kahneman) could be used to argue that the distinctions that some consequentialists emphasize are reducible to distinctions (loss/no-gain) that are suspect. Some of the chapters examine these alternative views. Finally, some philosophers hold foundational theories, like contractualism, that could be used to derive and justify the nonconsequentialist distinctions by an alternative method from the heavily case-based ones I employ.

F. M. Kamm, Intricate Ethics: Rights, Responsibilities, and Permissible Harm, Oxford, 2007, pp. 7-8

Frances Kamm

I always am surprised when people say, ‘Oh that was a nice discussion. That was fun.’ I think, ‘Fun? Fun? This is a serious matter!’ You try and try to get the right account of the moral phenomena in such cases as the Trolley Case, and getting it right is just as important as when you are doing an experiment in natural science, or any other difficult intellectual undertaking. If we worked on a NASA rocket, and it launched well, we wouldn’t say, ‘Well that was fun!’ It was aweinspiring, that’s the right way of putting it!

Frances Kamm, ‘In Search of the Deep Structure of Morality’, Imprints, vol. 9, no. 2 (2006), pp. 93-117