Public Reason: Vol. 3, No. 1, June 2011
The Extension and Limits of the Duty to Rescue
Per Bauhn


While many people believe that we have a moral duty to rescue another human being from a mortal danger when we can do so at little cost to ourselves or to other persons, there is less agreement concerning the extension and limits of this duty. When do we have a duty to rescue? What exactly is meant by “little cost”? In this paper we will examine a consequentialist as well as a deontological way of approaching the duty to rescue. We will point to some significant problems for both versions, but also indicate a way in which at least the deontological position can be improved. Finally, we will try to indicate how the duty to rescue may be applied to the international scene.

Key words: duty to rescue, consequentialism, deontology, duty of necessity, relational duty.



Bauhn, Per. 2011. The Extension and Limits of the Duty to Rescue. Public Reason 3 (1): 39-49.