The Principle of Double Effect: Act-Types and Intentions

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International Philosophical Quarterly, ISSN: 0019-0365, Vol: 53, Issue: 2, Page: 189-205

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Murphy, , James G.
Philosophy Documentation Center
Arts and Humanities; principle of double effect; moral nature; act-type; intention; Philosophy
article description
Objections to the principle of double effect usually concern its first and second conditions (that the act not be evil in itself, and that the evil effect may not be intended). The difficulties often arise from a rejection of the idea that acts have a moral nature independent of context, and a tendency to interpret intention as purely psychological. This article argues that the "act itself" should be understood as the act-type and suggests that examples of evil acttypes are not hard to find. It argues that the notion of intention is involved in both conditions, but in different ways. It proposes that these different ways can be interestingly illuminated by Anscombe's distinction between acting intentionally and acting with an intention.