My question might be worded funny, but I don't know where to start. I'm looking for help. I understand each of the following situations should be approached individually, but I am more concerned about how we find these differences of our "intuition's line" so I can better approach these subjects and others that might be similair in the future.

It seems to me their is a tie between: abortion, veganism and the death penalty- in that most people have a intuition of a line of where it begins and stops being acceptable. The hypothetical abortion line starts when the sperm is in the egg for some people and 4-5 months for other people; The hypothetical veganism line is we might kill germs, ants and cockroaches but not kill cows; The hypothetical death penalty line might be shooting someone holding a gun vs never killing for any reason.... etc.

Can someone help me on how I can develop a tactic on how to access these situations? ..I tend to lean towards accepting a farther line of "kill points" because in my personal experience I think their could be worse.

  • You're not going to get a satisfactory answer. Here's an anecdote to complicate things even more. A good way of controlling excess goose populations is to throw most of their eggs into the river each Spring. When that was proposed as a solution near where I live, many people became outraged at this and successfully demanded that it not happen. Many of those same people and groups also fought for the right of women to have abortions. Nov 8, 2019 at 15:06
  • @RayButterworth I think in that specific situation, it could be argued that a woman consents to an abortion while a goose does not consent to have its eggs destroyed. That said, it would be hypocritical for anyone who eats eggs or meat to object to the destruction of those eggs.
    – 79037662
    Nov 8, 2019 at 16:13
  • If you are looking for a general rule derived from first principles it does not exist, different people have different moral sensibilities. In practice, this is resolved pragmatically by drawing lines that most people in a society can live with and writing them into the law. A more "theoretical" approach can be based on utilitarianism: analyze which set of lines (you feel) produces the "best" result on average and follow those.
    – Conifold
    Nov 8, 2019 at 18:51
  • thanks you guys, this has given me something to think about. cheers
    – Noah
    Nov 10, 2019 at 20:59
  • Tastes good: Kill. Cute: Don't kill. Something like that. Culturally dependent of course.
    – user4894
    Nov 22, 2019 at 6:19

1 Answer 1


This line is drawn not under the thought whether one must kill or not but the situation under which one has to decide whether to kill or not. For everyone, the situation is different so one can never determine if one is right or wrong. Let me explain using examples :
Situation 1: The hypothetical abortion line
Abortion or the thought of killing is wrong, let alone an unborn child. But what if getting an abortion is the only way to save the life of a woman. What if there are some complications regarding the birth and if the lady goes ahead with the same she might die. So over here killing one life to save another, is it a moral thing? one can argue.
Situation 2: The hypothetical veganism line Killing animals is always against nature as well as a natures law. The cycle of all living things is that one always kills the other to survive. But killing the animals for mere fun is against the law of nature. Animals kill other animals to survive, but one can argue we are not primitive beings nor are we wild animals. Taking Double Effect Moral Principle what if while creating a home you destroy the anthill or say destroy the germs. You are not killing or hurting them intentionally but they do get hurt during the process. what would that count be.
Situation 3: The hypothetical death penalty line
Capital punishment is taking one life due to the crimes that person committed which harmed society. On the moral ground, the life of one over the life of millions does sound better when that one life is the cause of all the intentional pain and damage and abuse to others. Another example is when a person if trying to kill you but you kill that person in self-defence were you right or wrong. This action in moral ground justify as correct but again did you have any other way to avoid this outcome in the condition of not being killed does also matter.

So on this ground, all that matters while evaluating the acceptance of killing depends on the situation(s).

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