The doctrine of double effect

Print this page 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 bad effect would probably happen.

The doctrine of double effect

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 doctrine of double effect

In their use of the distinction between intent and foresight without intent, advocates of double effect make three arguments. First, that intent differs from foresight, even in cases in which one foresees an effect as inevitable.

Third, that the distinction has moral relevance, importance, or significance. The doctrine consists of four conditions that must be satisfied before an act is morally permissible: The action must be either morally good or indifferent.

The bad effect must not be the means by which one achieves the good effect. The intention must be the achieving of only the good effect, with the bad effect being only an unintended side effect. The bad effect must not be disproportionate to the good effect.

The second of these four conditions is an application of the more general principle that good ends do not justify evil means. A doctor who believes abortion is always morally wrong may still remove the uterus or fallopian tubes of a pregnant woman, knowing the procedure will cause the death of the embryo or fetusin cases in which the woman is certain to die without the procedure examples cited include aggressive uterine cancer and ectopic pregnancy.

Supreme Court has voiced support for this principle in its deliberations over the constitutionality of medical aid in dying. John Stuart Milla nineteenth-century advocate of the utilitarian version of consequentialism, argues that it is a mistake to confuse the standards for right action with a consideration of our motives to perform a right action: Therefore, Mill argues, our moral analysis should ignore matters of motivation, and so we should reject DDE, which appeals to a distinction between intended and unintended consequences.The principle of double effect, once largely confined to discussions by Catholic moral theologians, in recent years has figured prominently in the discussion of both ethical theory and applied ethics by a broad range of contemporary philosophers.

Formulation of the Principle.

The doctrine of double effect

The doctrine of double effect states that it can be permissible to cause harm if the harm is a side effect of an action whose main intent was meant to . 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 .

Alecia Rhines Doctrine of Double Effect Trident University What is the Doctrine of Double Effect? The doctrine of double effect if often invoked to explain the permissibility of an action that causes a serious harm, such as the death of a human being, as a side effect of promoting good ends.

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 .

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 side effect of promoting some good end.

the Doctrine of Double Effect