J Med Ethics
What makes killing wrong?
Walter Sinnott-Armstrong1,2, Franklin G Miller2
1Department of Philosophy and Kenan Institute for Ethics, Duke University, Durham, North Carolina, USA
2Department of Bioethics, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland, USA
Correspondence to Walter Sinnott-Armstrong, Kenan Institute for Ethics, Duke University, Box 90432, Durham, NC 27708, USA; firstname.lastname@example.org
Received 2 November 2011
Revised 13 December 2011
Accepted 16 December 2011
Published Online First 19 January 2012
What makes an act of killing morally wrong is not that the act causes loss of life or consciousness but rather that the act causes loss of all remaining abilities. This account implies that it is not even pro tanto morally wrong to kill patients who are universally and irreversibly disabled, because they have no abilities to lose. Applied to vital organ transplantation, this account undermines the dead donor rule and shows how current practices are compatible with morality.