Double Effect

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The objective of this paper is to prove that the Doctrine of Double Effect (DDE), proposed by Saint Thomas Aquinas, is a valid moral principle. It has been concluded that the DDE is a valid moral principle as it allows one to justify whether an action will cause two diverse effects and whether the effects are permissible. It is crucial to establish the validity of the DDE because it has been applied to defend a significant number of contemporary controversial issues (McIntyre). In order to determine whether the DDE is a valid moral principle, the definition of the doctrine itself as well as conditions involved will be demonstrated. In addition, each condition will be applied to differentiate two examples that result in the same outcomes. While examples are given to demonstrate the moral validity of the DDE, a common misinterpretation to the DDE will also be clarified.

It is difficult to identify the intentions of agents who apply the DDE when defending their actions as only the agent is aware of his/her intentions. By default, the DDE assumes that the agent intends to create the greatest number of goods. Therefore, agents cannot apply the DDE to defend their actions if they intend to create the bad end (McIntyre). Based on the above fact, the uncertainty of each agent’s intention will not be considered as a factor that affects the validity of the DDE.

The DEE states that it is morally permissible for one to carry out an action or make a decision that will result in the occurrence of good effects, even if he/she is able to foresee negative impacts resulting from carrying out the action (McIntyre).

In order to justify the permissibility of undertaking a particular action or making a certain descion, conditions in relation to the DDE had been declared and were used to define whether it is permissible to perform the action. Actions or choices that fail to meet any one of the conditions are considered impermissible. The conditions stated are as follow: 1st...
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