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 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 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 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)
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 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)
For this reason, proponents of free choice have attempted to find grounds for a refutation of determinism in the determinist position itself. Such attempts have sometimes taken the form of argumentation—by now well known—that determinism is somehow self-refuting or self-defeating.
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)
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)
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)