Intending, Foreseeing and the Doctrine of Double Effect

Dissertation, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (1995)
Authors
Ann Bumpus
Dartmouth College
Abstract
We typically assume that there is a difference between foreseeing an effect of one's voluntary action and intending the effect. Call the view that there is such a difference 'the Ordinary View'. My dissertation is a defense of the Ordinary View against two recent challenges. ;The first challenge to the Ordinary View I call "Holism". The upshot of the holist's position is that we intend all the foreseen effects of our voluntary actions. I begin by considering and arguing against a couple of different versions of holism. ;The second challenge to the Ordinary View is made by Jonathan Bennett. Bennett argues that there is no unproblematic way to mark off effects of action which are intended as a means from effects which are merely foreseen. His conclusion is that the notion 'indended as a means' is incoherent. ;These challenges to the Ordinary View are of interest because they threaten to undermine the Doctrine of Double Effect which claims that whether an agent intends or merely foresees a harmful effect of action sometimes matters to the moral permissibility of performing the action. In response to Bennett, I first examine a view put forth by Warren Quinn. Quinn concedes to Bennett that the distinction between intended versus merely foreseen effects faces serious problems, but attempts to limit the ethical implications of Bennett's challenge by offering a replacement principle for DDE which he believes is not subject to Bennett's objection. I defend Quinn's replacement principle against certain recent attacks in the literature, but point out that Quinn's replacement principle really doesn't escape Bennett's objection. I then return to Bennett's objection and argue that it rests upon two false assumptions. I conclude that the Ordinary View withstands the two challenges
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