UCSD PHIL 13 - Lecture Notes (10 pages)

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Lecture Notes



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Lecture Notes

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Pages:
10
School:
University of California, San Diego
Course:
Phil 13 - Intro to Philosophy: Ethics

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1 NOTE ON THE DOCTRINE OF DOUBLE EFFECT AND THE DOCTRINE OF ACTS AND OMISSIONS For Philosophy 13 Fall 2008 1 THE DOCTRINE OF DOUBLE EFFECT The Doctrine of Double Effect DDE holds that in some contexts it is morally permissible to bring about as a foreseen but unintended consequence a bad effect that it would be morally wrong to bring about as a strictly intended consequence The distinction between merely foreseen but unintended versus foreseen and intended consequences can be illustrated with the example of PUNISHING THE INNOCENT Suppose we know that when we punish convicted criminals innocent people guilty of no crime are also made to suffer If we put the guilty offender behind bars members of the offender s family will be deprived of his love companionship financial support and so on These consequences can be serious Perhaps in some cases we ought to forego punishing some guilty person because of the harm that punishing him would visit on innocent persons Nonetheless such consequences though foreseen are unintended When we punish the guilty we aim at the punishment of the guilty person s family members neither as a means to our ends nor as an end We might say that punishing the innocent is not part of our plan The harm that comes to the innocent is a merely foreseen but unintended consequence of what we do In contrast suppose that for some reason the guilty offender is beyond our reach and cannot be punished directly But his family ties are so close that if we deliberately punished his family members and publicized this fact the guilty person would suffer just as much as if we put him in prison or gave some equivalent direct punishment But in this variant case punishing the innocent would be not a merely foreseen but an intended consequence of our action We aim at punishing the innocent as a means to our goal of punishing the guilty offender Many people would judge that even if the overall consequences turned out to be the same whether we punished the guilty and



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