The Doctrine of Double Effect

American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly 89 (3):397-406 (2015)
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Abstract: This essay consists of some clarifying remarks on the doctrine of double effect (DDE). After providing a contemporary formulation of the doctrine we put special emphasis on the distinction between those aspects of an action plan that are intended and those that are merely foreseen (the I/F distinction). Making use of this distinction is often made difficult in practice because salient aspects of the action plan exhibit a felt “closeness” to one another that is difficult if not impossible to articulate with the precision we might like. The essay goes on to examine an especially adroit criticism of DDE best articulated by J.J. Thomson. We conclude with a brand new double effect case (new to the philosophical literature anyway) taken from medicine and Roman Catholic pastoral ministry.

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Neil Delaney
Brown University

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