By Jonathan Glover
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Extra info for Causing Death and Saving Lives
We propose to pay not more than 170 marks a head. If agreeable, we will take possession of the women. We need approximately 150… Received the order of 150 women. Despite their emaciated condition, they were found satisfactory. We shall keep you posted on developments concerning this experiment… The tests were made. All subjects died. We shall contact you shortly on the subject of a new load. If criticism of the doctrine of the sanctity of life made even a small contribution to developing such attitudes, that would be an overwhelming reason for not making any criticism.
It is true that we can do things that restrict the freedom of action of future generations, perhaps by allowing the erosion of civil liberties or by using up scarce resources, but such acts are objectionable because of the weight we ought to give to the interests or liberty of future people, not because we can now be said to be flouting their autonomy. 2. (b) The developmental condition: You must be at a level of development where you can have the relevant desires. Perhaps my three-year-old son will one day have the ambition to produce a unified field theory.
Can this be combined with the lack of any duty to conceive a happy person? These two beliefs are hard to combine without relying on implausible assumptions. One assumption that would reconcile them would be a kind of negative utilitarianism, saying that what matters is not affecting people for the worse, and giving no positive weight to affecting people for the better. But this is not a moral view that has much to be said for it in other contexts. The other assumption would be that conceiving a miserable person is a way of affecting someone for the worse, while conceiving a happy person is not a way of affecting someone for the better.