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Journal for Peace and Justice Studies

Volume 21, Issue 2, 2011

John P. Reeder, Jr.
Pages 70-94

Terrorism, Secularism, and the Deaths of Innocents

The “moral equivalence” objector—appealing only to certain moral considerations, e.g., wellbeing and consent—argues that no inherent moral significance attaches to the distinction between intended means and foreseen side-effects: If an act of direct killing is wrong, then a morally comparable act of indirect killing is wrong as well; if an act of indirect killing is right, then so is a morally comparable act of direct killing. One secular version of double effect is vulnerable to the objection unless it can provide a principle of justice which prohibits direct but justifies indirect killing. Both the secular version and the moral equivalence view depart (in different ways) from a theological interpretation of double effect as “delegated dominion.”