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April 16, 2018 | by  | in Opinion Philosoraptor | [ssba]


This week’s Salient theme is “taboo”. Fortunately, there’s quite a substantial intersection between “things which are philosophical” and “things which are taboo”. So in honour of the theme, here are some very counterintuitive philosophical arguments with (potentially) taboo conclusions. Note: all of these are real arguments that have been made by real philosophers.

Why killing Cecil the lion was the right thing to do

  1. We should, morally, care about the welfare of animals
  2. During a predator’s lifetime, that predator kills hundreds of smaller animals in extremely painful ways
  3. Therefore, the person who killed Cecil the lion did a great moral good, and deserves praise rather than blame

Why genocide is not wrong

  1. When we say that something is morally wrong, we mean that it is objectively morally wrong
  2. There are no objective moral facts or objective moral reasons
  3. Therefore, nothing is morally wrong
  4. Therefore, genocide is not wrong

Why infanticide is morally permissible

  1. There is no morally significant difference between a late-term foetus and a newborn baby
  2. The abortion of late-term foetuses is morally permissible
  3. Therefore, infanticide is morally permissible

Why we all lead horrendously immoral lives

  1. There is only a small moral difference between killing someone and letting someone die when you could easily have saved their life
  2. People in rich countries can easily save the lives of people in poor countries by donating money to charity
  3. Therefore, most people in rich countries are the moral equivalent of mass-murderers

Why the enforcement of borders is immoral

  1. If I use force to stop a starving person from reaching a market where they can work to feed themselves, I have effectively killed that person
  2. By using borders to prevent poor people from entering rich countries, we are doing something analogous to the situation in (1)
  3. Therefore, the enforcement of borders is immoral

Why no one has a right to own their property

  1. A person has a right to own a piece of property if and only if that property was initially acquired justly, and all transactions after that initial acquisition were legitimate
  2. But for any piece of property today, it is likely that it or the pieces used to build it were historically acquired through some act of war, conquest, or colonisation, which are not legitimate acquisitions
  3. Therefore, most people today do not have a right to own their property



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