6

Moral Agency and Autonomy

While I lie sleeping on a warm night, a mosquito wanders through my open window and bites me. I don’t judge the mosquito’s behavior as ethical or unethical, although I might be tempted to do so if it gave me dengue fever. The mosquito’s bite has no moral significance because it is just a matter of chemistry and biology. Chemical receptors on the mosquito’s antennae detected carbon dioxide from my breath and lactic acid from my skin, which initiated a series of chemical and neurological mechanisms that led to the bite. There’s nothing more to say.

Later that night, an experienced burglar notices my open window, discreetly peers inside, and spots my wallet on the nightstand. He quietly slips through the window and ...

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