Just war doctrine includes a stringent prohibition against killing and otherwise harming 'innocents', those of one's enemy population who are not engaged in the act of making war. This category includes most enemy civilians. The prohibition cannot reasonably prohibit all possible harms to these innocents. The doctrine of double effect is a way of limiting the prohibition to acts of intentionally harming innocents. This paper explores the application of double effect reasoning in this context, with a view towards determining whether (...) it contains resources to prevent rationalizing and mistaken applications. I argue that, although there are hard cases, the doctrine can be applied rigorously so as to expose rationalizing applications and mistakes. (shrink)
Abstract During the 20th century some versions of just war doctrine came to restrict the condition of just cause to defense, that is, these just war doctrines now hold it to be a necessary condition for the moral justifiability of any war that it be undertaken for defensive purposes. These purposes need not be self ? defensive but may be defensive of the welfare and legitimate rights of other polities and groups. Some reasons for war are obviously not defensive, for (...) example, the acquisition of territory or the assertion of imperialist control. But the boundaries of defensive warfare are unclear. I will consider two important cases in which this lack of clarity is proving to be morally significant: namely, preventive and punitive warfare undertaken for the sake of the goal of defense. I will argue that the normative rationale for limiting just cause to defense does not allow these as legitimate forms of defense. That rationale moves towards the view that one should not intend the deaths of enemies but only the restraint of their wrongdoing, and preventive and punitive warfare appear to involve intending the deaths of enemies. (shrink)
The use of terminal sedation to control theintense discomfort of dying patients appearsboth to be an established practice inpalliative care and to run counter to the moraland legal norm that forbids health careprofessionals from intentionally killingpatients. This raises the worry that therequirements of established palliative care areincompatible with moral and legal opposition toeuthanasia. This paper explains how thedoctrine of double effect can be relied on todistinguish terminal sedation from euthanasia. The doctrine of double effect is rooted inCatholic moral casuistry, but (...) its applicationin law and morality need not depend on theparticular framework in which it was developed. The paper further explains how the moral weightof the distinction between intended harms andmerely foreseen harms in the doctrine of doubleeffect can be justified by appeal to alimitation on the human capacity to pursue good. (shrink)
How are we to understand the role of bioethics in the health care system, government, and academe? This collection of original essays raises these and other questions about the nature of bioethics as a discipline.
This paper addresses the moral challenges presented by the existence of radical moral disagreement in contemporary health care. I argue that there is no neutral moral perspective for understanding and resolving these challenges, but that they must be formulated and resolved from within the various perspectives that generate the disagreement. I then explore the natural law tradition's approach to these issues as a test case for my thesis. Keywords: moral conflict, moral perplexity, natural law, radical moral disagreement, toleration CiteULike Connotea (...) Del.icio.us What's this? (shrink)
The doctrine of double effect continues to be an important tool in bioethical casuistry. Its role within the Catholic moral tradition continues, and there is considerable interest in it by contemporary moral philosophers. But problems of justification and correct application remain. I argue that if the traditional Catholic conviction that there are exceptionless norms prohibiting inflicting some kinds of harms on people is correct, then double effect is justified and necessary. The objection that double effect is superfluous is a rejection (...) of that normative conviction, not a refutation of double effect itself. This justification suggests the correct way of applying double effect to controversial cases. But versions of double effect which dispense with the absolutism of the Catholic tradition lack justification and fall to the objection that double effect is an unnecessary complication. Keywords: double effect, intention, side effect CiteULike Connotea Del.icio.us What's this? (shrink)
Nuclear deterrence requires objective ethical analysis. In providing it, the authors face realities - the Soviet threat, possible nuclear holocaust, strategic imperatives - but they also unmask moral evasions - deterrence cannot be bluff, pure counterforce, the lesser (or greater) evil, or a step towards disarmament. They conclude that the deterrent is unjustifiable and examine the new question of conscience that this raises for everyone.