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"The Coma Test" - Inapplicable to Positive UPB Drawbacks?

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I’m still new to syllogisms and logical proofs and I’m not sure if I’m begging the question (if that’s even the right description of this?), some other logical fallacy in this regard or if I just missed something simple in the formulation somewhere.


Where I’m having trouble is with using “the coma test” as a litmus test to disprove positive actions as UPBs, especially to disprove the big three as positives: rape, murder and theft.

On page 67:

“Any ethical theory that posits a positive action as universally preferable behavior faces the challenge of “the coma test.”

“This is another central problem with any theory that posits a positive action such as “rape” as moral. At any given time, there are any number of people who are unable to perform such positive actions, who must then be condemned as evil, even though they have no capacity to be “good.””


And then at the bottom of the page it explains the requirement for capacity of performing moral actions:

“Thus we can reasonably say that where choice is absent, or inapplicable, morality is also absent, or inapplicable. Thus the man in a coma, while his actions cannot be considered evil, neither can they be considered good. He exists in the state without choice…thus he can be reasonably exempted from moral rules since there is a physical state that objectively differentiates him from a man who can chose, which is allowable under UPB.”


If the positive action as UPB is “rape is moral,” then if you don’t rape you are considered immoral. If you cannot rape, you are excluded from the consideration because you are not able to make the choice. You are not condemned as evil because of the lack of choice.


So my question is which of these is conclusions put forward on this page are true:

Common sense tells us that a positive moral action as UPB creates the situation where a coma patient is immoral because they cannot abide by it, therefore no positive moral actions as UPB are valid. Also, avoidance of committing a negative moral action does not necessarily mean you are moral.


Where choice is absent, so is moral consideration absent. Because the coma patient cannot make a choice, he is neither moral nor immoral. So, attempting to assign a positive or negative moral action as UPB to the coma patient is invalid. Because of this, “the coma test” as a whole is inapplicable for moral considerations because someone in a coma is not a moral agent.


Not sure if it is a false dichotomy and I’m missing a third (or fourth) conclusion I’m not realizing?


If the latter conclusion is true, where no choice = no morality basis, then it also applies to the next part on murder:

“If murder were morally good, then it would also be the case that a man stranded on a desert island would be morally evil for as long as he lived there, since he would have no victims to kill”.


If he’s stranded on an island with nobody to murder (physical state that objectively differentiates him), he does not have the “to murder or not to murder?” dilemma. So the man is neither moral nor immoral since he does not have the ability to choose.


It's very late and the caffeine has long been out of my system. Any help in clearing this up will be greatly appreciated.


(Edit: Added tags, thank you TDB)

(Edit: Corrected the logical fallacy, I think I may be begging the question, not presupposition)

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