Volume 77, Issue 3, Summer 2003
Nancy Davis and the Means-End Relation
Toward a Defense of the Doctrine of Double Effect
In her paper, “The Doctrine of Double Effect: Problems of Interpretation,” Nancy Davis attempts to find an interpretation of the means-end relationship that would provide a foundation for the Doctrine of Double Effect (DDE) and its reliance on the distinction between what an agent intends or brings about intentionally and what that agent merely foresees will result from his/her action, but does not intend (or bring about intentionally). Davis’s inability to find such an interpretation lessens the plausibility of the view that the
DDE is an acceptable moral doctrine. In the present paper, it is suggested that Davis’s inability to find an interpretation of the means-end relationship that will support the DDE results from her assumption that an agent must intend to produce whatever he/she produces intentionally. Borrowing an argument from Michael Bratman, this article shows that Davis’s assumption is false. That
realization paves the way toward a defense of the DDE.