Possible Intentions and the Doctrine of Double Effect

Download Edit this record How to cite View on PhilPapers
Abstract
Under the standard formulation of the Doctrine of Double Effect, an act is permissible only if it is the result of an intention to do good and not the result of an intention to do bad. Many find that this absurdly ties the act’s permissibility to the agent’s character and not to features of the act itself. In light of such criticism, some philosophers have reformulated the doctrine so that it holds that an act is permissible given that it results from an intention to do good by some agent. I argue that this appeal to possible intentions to do good fails. There is no modal or moral reason to privilege intentions to do good over those to do bad, and without privileging them, this version of the Doctrine of Double Effect leads to contradiction. In many scenarios, if a possible intention to do good is considered to be sufficient for permissibility, then in that same scenario a possible intention to do bad should be sufficient for impermissibility. However, one and the same act can have both possible intentions to do good and possible intentions to do bad. Thus, the principle leads to the contradictory ruling that one and the same act is both permissible and impermissible.
PhilPapers/Archive ID
FRUPIA-2
Revision history
Archival date: 2019-10-23
View upload history
References found in this work BETA

No references found.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Add more citations

Added to PP index
2019-10-23

Total views
30 ( #42,246 of 45,289 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
30 ( #24,997 of 45,289 )

How can I increase my downloads?

Downloads since first upload
This graph includes both downloads from PhilArchive and clicks to external links.