The Concept of Lesser Evil


The paper proposes a normative framework for the resolution of interpersonal conflicts, as an alternative to two dominant kinds of moral theories: deontological theories and theories of rights, on the one hand, and aggregative consequentialism, mainly utilitarianism, on the other. The proposed theory consists of two basic ideas. First, the fundamental moral value and source of reasons for action is individual well-being. Second, internal clashes between independent aspects of this value, namely, conflicts between the well-being of different individuals, should be resolved in light of conceptions of fairness, which reflect the independent value of each person and the rational capability of persons. These ideas are elaborated through several principles, which are explored in the paper.