Knowing Killing and Environmental Law
Georgetown University Law Center
Georgetown Law and Economics Research Paper No. 875644
Georgetown Public Law Research Paper No. 875644
This paper argues that the ethical commitment against knowing killing should play a role in decisions about environmental problems. The ethical commitment against the knowing killing of one person by another - against murder - is reflected in laws that exist in all fifty U.S. states, in modern regulatory laws at the federal level, and in civil jury awards in tort cases involving profit-oriented corporations. This ethical commitment is also reflected in otherwise disparate approaches to moral philosophy. The ethical value discussed here is thus not a new norm, nor, in its traditional setting, a controversial one. Applying this norm in the context of environmental risks does create several complications, but they are not enough to de-activate the norm in this setting.
This analysis reveals the morally problematic nature of using cost-benefit analysis to evaluate environmental decisions. Cost-benefit analysis involves precisely the kind of pre-killing weighing of the choice whether a person will live or die which our norm against knowing killing condemns.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 18
Date posted: January 17, 2006