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Deontological Restrictions and the Good/Bad Asymmetry

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I argue that a defense of deontological restrictions need not resort to what I call the 'Good/Bad asymmetry', according to which it is morally more important to avoid harming others than to prevent just such harm. I replace this paradoxical asymmetry with two non-paradoxical (if also non-obvious) ones. These are the following: (a) We ought to treat an act of preventing harm to persons precisely as such (as a harm prevention), rather than as the causing of a benefit; but we ought to treat an act that causes harm precisely as such (as a harm causing), rather than as the prevention of a benefit. (b) It is morally more important not to cause harm than to cause benefit. I show how we can use those asymmetries, together with certain other assumptions, to defend restrictions. I also offer a partial defense of the first of the two asymmetries.


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