On a purported error about the doctrine of double effect: A reply to Sophie Botros

Philosophy 75 (2):283-295 (2000)
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In a recent edition of the journal Philosophy, Sophie Botros asserts that modern ethical theorists have badly misunderstood the role of the Doctrine of Double Effect, turning it into a device by which to prohibit actions which are deemed impermissible; whereas the true function of the Doctrine is rather one of justifying actions. In my reply, I argue that Dr Botros has misunderstood the Doctrine: that its ‘prohibitive’ and its ‘justificatory’ roles are merely two sides of the same coin, since its function is to decide for a given action whether it is permissible or impermissible. Furthermore, Dr Botros has misconstrued the essential contribution of the DDE is not the balancing of good results against bad ones, but the quite different position that the crucial moral distinction is between intended and merely foreseen results.



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Citations of this work

Doctrine of double effect.Alison McIntyre - 2008 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
Intention in ethics.Joseph Shaw - 2006 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 36 (2):187-223.
Intention in Ethics.Joseph Shaw - 2006 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 36 (2):187-223.

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