The doctrine of double effect

It also allows a surgeon to remove a uterus with a cancer, even though it contains a live fetus. All feasible precautions must be taken to avoid, and in any event to minimize, incidental loss of civilian life, injury to civilians and damage to civilian objects.

Traditional applications of the principle of double effect rest on the assumption that the death of an innocent human being may never be brought about intentionally and would rule against such an action.

A doctor who intends to hasten the death of a terminally ill patient by injecting a large dose of morphine would act impermissibly because he intends to bring about the patient's death.

Doctrine of double effect

The doctor's action must still be appropriate: By this argument, the death of the foetus is merely the side-effect of medical treatment to save the mother's life. American Catholic Philosophical Association, pp.

See section 6 for a full discussion of this application of double effect. That an agent intended to bring about a certain harm does not explain why the action was impermissible, but it can explain what is morally faulty about the agent's reasoning in pursuing that line of action.

However, that may not fully justify killing one human the fetus to help another the mother. So, for example, the principle is invoked to consider the terror bombing of non-combatants having as its goal victory in a legitimate war morally out of bounds, while holding as ethically in bounds an act of strategic bombing that similarly harms non-combatants with foresight as a side effect of destroying a legitimate military target.

The conditions provided by Joseph Mangan include the explicit requirement that the bad effect not be intended: Yet the first assumption is false. The New Catholic Encyclopedia provides four conditions for the application of the principle of double effect: When his bombs kill civilians this is a foreseen but unintended consequence of his actions.

For example, double effect contrasts those who would allegedly permissibly provide medication to terminally ill patients in order to alleviate suffering with the side effect of hastening death with those who would allegedly impermissibly provide medication to terminally ill patients in order to hasten death in order to alleviate suffering.

See section 6 for a full discussion of this application of double effect. This is not a blanket justification. Double Effect is silent about cases in which it is permissible to cause a death as a means to a good end.

Doctrine of Double Effect

If this criticism is correct, then perhaps the cases that have been cited as applications of the principle of double effect are united only by the fact that each is an exception to the general prohibition on causing the death of a human being. The principle presupposes that agents do not aim to cause morally grave harms as an end and seeks to guide decisions about causing harm in pursuing a morally good end.

It is not at all clear that all of the examples that double effect has been invoked to justify can be explained by a single principle.

But it is obviously permissible. These independent considerations are not derived from the distinction between intended and merely foreseen consequences and do not depend on it DavisMcIntyre It is unjustified to assume that the hastening of death is itself a form of merciful relief for patients with terminal illnesses and not a regrettable side effect to be minimized.

The action must be either morally good or indifferent. A Tribute to J. Permissibility, Meaning, Blame, Cambridge: The most plausible and defensible version of the principle of double effect requires that the harmful side effect be minimized, so the principle of double effect provides no justification for withholding hydration and nutrition in cases in which death is not immediately imminent.

Death is not always bad - so double effect is irrelevant: Mill, for example, denies that good intentions or "motives" matter. University of Notre Dame Press.

The doctrine of double effect

Once we recognize that our PATTERN of activity is the problem, and that the cumulative consequences FAIL according to 4 above the proportionality requirementthen we are no longer morally justified in allowing this behavior. The standard of "we" in "we understand" is normally thought to be an adult of normal intelligence.

University of Virginia,pp. Third, some argue that it would be wrong for a bystander to switch the trolley Judith Jarvis Thomson, and suggest that people's willingness to view it as permissible is a result of inadequate reflection or insufficient emotional engagement.

The prohibition is absolute in traditional Catholic applications of the principle. They think that some acts are objectively right or wrong, and that the intention of the person who does them is irrelevant.

The strategic bomber aims at military targets while foreseeing that bombing such targets will cause civilian deaths.The doctrine (or principle) of double effect is often invoked to explain the permissibility of an action that causes a serious harm, such as the death of a human being, as a.

The difficulty of applying this doctrine of Double Effect was the principle was devised when the world was more singular.

Doctrine of double effect

Devised during the Holy Roman Empire by a preeminent scholar during the latter years of the Middle Ages. The current times is a multicultured one where the world is integrated.

The Doctrine of Double Effect is a normative principle according to which in pursuing the good it is sometimes morally permissible to bring about some evil as a side-effect or merely foreseen consequence: the same evil would. Dec 17,  · The doctrine of double effect.

This doctrine says that if doing something morally good has a morally bad side-effect it's ethically OK to do it providing the bad side-effect wasn't intended.

This is true even if you foresaw that. The Principle of Double Effect (and our responsibility regarding the environment) Suppose that you know that an action has two consequences, or effects, one good and one bad. The validity of the double effect doctrine is examined in euthanasia and abortion.

In these two situations killing is a method of treatment. It is argued that the doctrine cannot apply to the care of the dying. Firstly, doctors are obliged to harm patients in order to do good to them. Secondly, patients should make their own value judgments about being .

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The doctrine of double effect
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