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American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly

Volume 81, Issue 3, Summer 2007

H. M. Giebel
Pages 447-468

Ends, Means, and Character: Recent Critiques of the Intended-Versus-Forseen Distinction and the Principle of Double Effect

In this essay I first provide a brief explanation of the principle of double effect (PDE) and the propositions that it entails regarding the distinction between intention and foresight (I/F distinction) and the distinction’s relevance to ethical evaluation. Then I address several recent critiques of PDE and the I/F distinction by influential ethicists including Judith Jarvis Thomson, Tom Beauchamp and James Childress, and Jonathan Bennett. I argue that none of these critiques is successful. In the process of refuting the critiques, I also give prima facie reason to believe that the I/F distinction is relevant to evaluation of agents and their actions and that PDE is a defensible ethical principle.

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