I begin by defending the claim that what makes homicide presumptively wrong is, centrally, that it produces the death of the victim. I use conceptual analysis to establish the evaluations implicit in our ordinary ways of talking and then defend these evaluations. I then argue that death is an evil incommensurable with other evils such as the suffering of pain, and that unjustified killing is a wrong not reducible to injustice or cruelty. Then I examine three traditions of moral theory- utilitarianism, social contract, and natural law—and conclude that none of them is adequate to the ethics of homicide.
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