Susanne Burri and Bryan Roberts (LSE): “The Good News About Killing People”

We propose a ‘Cautionary News Principle’ when justifying the decision to commit an irreversible act, such as one that involves killing. The principle states that whether such a decision is justified depends on the extent of possible cautionary news in the future, whereas confirmatory news can be disregarded. We show that such a principle can be derived in a consequentialist framework, deriving it as a theorem in a simple consequentialist model, which deviates from a simple cost-benefit analysis.