The doctrine of double effect and the question of constraints on business decisions

Journal of Business Ethics 58 (1-3):51 - 63 (2005)
Abstract
. How does the doctrine of double effect apply to business decisions to sell products which may be harmful to consumers? Lawrence Masek believes that some authors have misapplied the doctrine to this type of decision and, as a consequence, have committed themselves to placing unwarranted constraints on businesses. Seeking to correct this mistake, Masek presents his account of how the doctrine applies here, an account which is rather permissive but which, he claims, nevertheless preserves the virtues of the doctrine. It will be seen, though, that his attempt to loosen these putatively unnecessary constraints by appealing to consumer autonomy and an intuition about the morality of producing harmful products leaves the doctrine of double effect irrelevant to this type of decision. His argument that the doctrine is less restrictive in this context than others suppose leads ultimately to the conclusion that the doctrine does not constrain this kind of business decision at all.
Keywords Constraints on business decisions  disproportion  doctrine of double effect  harmful products  intrinsically harmful acts  natural law
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