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)
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.
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)
Joseph Boyle discusses deontology, which derives precepts from moral principles, particularly making a case with reference to Alan Donagan's The Theory of Morality, which appeared the same year as Just and Unjust Wars.
This is a response to James Dubois’ “Is anesthesia intrinsically wrong?” I do not address many of the claims in this article but only DuBois’ use of the moral evaluation of the medical use of anesthesia as a counter example to two lines of reasoning developed to defend the traditional Catholic prohibition of contraception. Elizabeth Anscombe's dialectical defense of this teaching does not imply that such a defense must logically apply to the use of anesthesia. John Finnis’ defense of this (...) teaching on the basis of a natural law argument does not imply that consciousness is a basic human 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 explores the implications of Roman Catholic teachings on social justice and rights to health care. It argues that contemporary societies, such as those in North America and Western Europe, have an obligation to provide health care to their citizens as a matter of right. Moral considerations provide a basis for evaluating concerns about the role of equality when determining health care entitlements and giving some precision to the widespread belief that the right to health care requires equal entitlement (...) to health care benefits. (shrink)
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)
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)
The core of the double effect rule supposes the existence of a kind of impermissible action whose impermissibility is determined by its including the intention of a bad result. How can the reality of actions having this tight connection between intending bad results and impermissibility be justified? None of the obvious justifications is promising. But the conditions of human agency provide a justification for the centrality of intention within the impermissible actions double effect addresses. The human power to avoid intentional (...) actions is robust, but not the power to avoid unintended bad results. Supposing there is a normative case for indefeasible prohibitions, limiting them to intentional actions is warranted, since the prohibition can be complied with. But when unintended bad results are not avoidable, such a prohibition would demand the impossible. (shrink)
In this essay I will try to develop a natural law justification of welfare rights. The justification I will undertake is from the perspective of Catholic natural law, that is, the strand of natural law that has been developed theoretically by Roman Catholic canonists, theologians, and philosophers since Aquinas, and affirmed by Catholic teachers as the basis for most moral obligations. Catholic natural law is, therefore, natural law as developed and understood by Catholics or others respecting Catholic traditions of inquiry. (...) It is not, however, primarily or exclusively natural law for Catholics, since the very idea of natural law includes the conviction that it is accessible in principle to anyone.Footnotes* I wish to thank the other contributors to this volume for their helpful comments on a presentation of an earlier draft of this essay. I am also grateful to John Finnis, Germain Grisez, James Murphy, Ellen Frankel Paul, and Michael Vertin for written comments on the earlier draft, which revealed many errors and suggested significant improvements. (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)
In this short response to Peter Clarke's thorough and interesting tracing of the developments in Richard McCormick's approach to moral questions, I take a perspective external to the concerns of Clarke's paper. I propose to look at the developments in McCormick's approach not so much from the perspective of contemporary Catholic moral theology but from that of the impact on the practices and beliefs of the Catholic community. From that perspective, the really important events in McCormick's theological development are his (...) rejection of the received teaching on contraception and his closely connected embracing of a moral theory that implies that there are no moral absolutes, namely, proportionalism. (shrink)