The FLO Theory of the Wrongness of Killing

Contrast this with the standard emergency medical treatment of the suicidal. Even though the suicidal have indicated that they want to die, med- ical personnel will act to save their lives. This supports the view that it is not the mere desire to enjoy an FLO which is crucial to our understanding of the wrongness of killing. Having an FLO is what is crucial to the account, al- though one would, of course, want to make an exception in the case of fully autonomous people who refuse life-saving medical treatment. Opponents of abortion can, of course, be willing to make an exception for fully au- tonomous fetuses who refuse life support.

The FLO theory of the wrongness of killing also deals correctly with is- sues that have concerned philosophers. It implies that it would be wrong to kill (peaceful) persons from outer space who come to visit our planet even though they are biologically utterly unlike us. Presumably, if they are per- sons, then they will have futures that are sufficiently like ours so that it would be wrong to kill them. The FLO account of the wrongness of killing shares this feature with the personhood views of the supporters of choice. Classical opponents of abortion who locate the wrongness of abortion some- how in the biological humanity of a fetus cannot explain this.

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The FLO account does not entail that there is another species of animals whose members ought not to be killed. Neither does it entail that it is per- missible to kill any non-human animal. On the one hand, a supporter of ani- mals’ rights might argue that since some non-human animals have a future of value, it is wrong to kill them also, or at least it is wrong to kill them with- out a far better reason than we usually have for killing non-human animals. On the other hand, one might argue that the futures of non-human animals are not sufficiently like ours for the FLO account to entail that it is wrong to kill them. Since the FLO account does not specify which properties a future of another individual must possess so that killing that individual is wrong, the FLO account is indeterminate with respect to this issue. The fact that the FLO account of the wrongness of killing does not give a determinate answer to this question is not a flaw in the theory. A sound ethical account should yield the right answers in the obvious cases; it should not be required to re- solve every disputed question.