Originally published in 1980 this book argues that we are all responsible for the harm we could have prevented and explores the effect of this conclusion on a morality which makes fundamental the belief that we ought not to harm others if we can possibly avoid it. A theory of responsibility is developed and defended which has consequences for the way we live as well as for a number of problems in contemporary moral, political and social philosophy, and in jurisprudence. In particular, the author attacks the view that there is a moral difference between killing and letting die and proposes a radical conception of violence. Among other controversial issues covered in the book are neutrality, the ethics of organ transplants and the allocation of scarce resources.

chapter Chapter 1|9 pages

Humans and persons

chapter Chapter 2|14 pages

A defence of non-‘violent’ violence

chapter Chapter 3|24 pages

Negative actions

chapter Chapter 4|18 pages

Killing and letting die

chapter Chapter 5|19 pages

The survival lottery

chapter Chapter 6|16 pages

The fate of others and our distance from it

chapter Chapter 7|23 pages

Integrity, sympathy and negative responsibility

chapter Chapter 8|12 pages


chapter Chapter 9|20 pages

The bounds of obligation