Who is entitled to double effect?

Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 16 (5):475-494 (1991)


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?

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Citations of this work

Doctrine of Double Effect.Alison McIntyre - 2008 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
Lexical Priority and the Problem of Risk.Michael Huemer - 2010 - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 91 (3):332-351.
Double Effect, All Over Again: The Case of Sister Margaret McBride.Bernard G. Prusak - 2011 - Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics 32 (4):271-283.

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