The Journal of Ethics

, Volume 12, Issue 1, pp 57–80 | Cite as

Permissible killing and the irrelevance of being human



This is a review essay of Jeff McMahan's recent book The Ethics of Killing: Problems at the Margins of Life (OUP: 2002). In the first part, I lay out the central features of McMahan's account of the wrongness of killing and its implications for when it is permissible to kill. In the second part of the essay, I argue that we ought not to accept McMahan's rejection of species membership as having any bearing on whether it is permissible to kill a particular individual, as there are ways of understanding its relevance that are more plausible than McMahan allows.


abortion, euthanasia Jeff McMahan permissible killing species membership 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyQueen’s UniversityKingstonCanada

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