The fact that the topic of emergency situations has been neglected almost completely by ethical theory raises the question why normative ethics has had so little to say about extreme situations so far. One can assume that this disinterest is not due to the rarity of emergency situations but rather to their peculiar properties. All ethical theories rest on the premise that moral agents make the most of their decisions under normal circumstances. The aim of the paper is to answer the question whether or not normative ethics is able to adequately evaluate emergency situations. In order to do this, different types of extreme situations must be distinguished. It is argued that, on the one hand, self-defence and agreements by which all the participants refrain from certain of their rights in order to enable some of them to survive are morally unproblematic. On the other hand, there are emergency situations that do not allow for a solution which would be morally acceptable to all of the involved persons. Hence, morality itself can be unacceptable under extreme circumstances.
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