Concerning our moral obligations to other people, what is the distinction between killing and letting die? For example, if I'm at the beach and there's a child playing in the water, I think I can safely say that everyone would agree that it would be wrong for me to go in to the water and drown the child. But say I see the child drowning, and there's no one else around, and I could easily jump in and save him without risking my own life, would it be wrong for me to stand there and do nothing as he drowns? I'm not so sure what one's moral obligation is in this case. Personally, I would feel awful about letting the child drown and would certainly try to save him, but maybe not everyone would, and I'm hesitant so say they've done something wrong by doing nothing. In other words I don't know if I would support a law punishing such behavior.
Read another response by Oliver Leaman, Jyl Gentzler