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Th Doctrine of Double Effect: Consequentialism

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Th Doctrine of Double Effect: Consequentialism

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  • November 22, 2004
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The Doctrine of Double Effect states that it is a morally relevant difference between those bad consequences we aim and intend to bring about, and those that we do not intend but still foresee as a likely outcome of our actions. Under certain circumstances, it is morally acceptable to risk certain outcomes that would not be acceptable to intend. Though it is always wrong to kill innocents deliberately, this doctrine says, it is sometimes permissible to allow certain actions to occur understanding that some side effects will be negative. Considering that some side effects involve death, we need to consider the question of whether it is ever morally permissible to use people as a means to one's end. Warren Quinn attempts to present a deontological way of viewing the Doctrine of Double Effect. The configuration of Doctrine of Double Effect prepared by Quinn makes distinctions on moral assessments. In proportion to consequentialist moral theory, the distinction the Doctrine of Double Effect comprises between intended and merely foreseen consequences does not matter for moral evaluation with the exception of factors that are consequential for production of better outcomes.

In Deontology edited by Stephen Darwill, Deontology is a element of ethical teachings centered on the idea that actions must be guided above all by adherence to clear principles. Thomas Nagel suggest that the core idea in deontological thinking is the Doctrine of Double Effect and the innermost idea is one ought not in one's actions aim at evil and in this way to be guided by evil (177). Quinn suggests that there are two major problems dealing with the rationality and discrimination between cases when it comes to the Doctrine of Double Effect. In the following exert from Deontology, Quinn gives examples of contrasting cases from modern warfare:

In the case of a strategic bomber (SB), a pilot bombs an enemy factory in order to destroy its productive capacity. But in doing this he foresees that...