Moral inertia

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8 Scopus citations


I argue that, according to ordinary morality, there is moral inertia, that is, moral pressure to fail to intervene in certain circumstances. Moral inertia is manifested in scenarios with a particular causal structure: deflection scenarios, where a threatening or benefiting process is diverted from a group of people to another. I explain why the deflection structure is essential for moral inertia to be manifested. I argue that there are two different manifestations of moral inertia: strict prohibitions on interventions, and constraints on interventions. Finally, I discuss the connection between moral inertia and the distinction between killing and letting die (or doing and allowing harm).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)117-133
Number of pages17
JournalPhilosophical Studies
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 2008


  • Causation
  • Deflection
  • Killing
  • Letting die
  • Malm
  • Trolley

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Philosophy


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