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Springer is collaborating with JSTOR to digitize, preserve and extend access to Philosophical Studies: An International
Jo...
Philosophical Studies (2007) 134:103-110 © Springer 2007
DOI 10.1007/sll098-007-9086-z
NEIL FRANCIS DELANEY
A NOTE ON INTE...
104 NEILFRANCISDELANEY
A standardway of determiningwhethera componentof an
actionplanis a meansto theendis to assesswhethe...
A NOTE ON INTENTION AND THE DOCTRINE OF DOUBLE EFFECT 105
enemy, somethingis needed to bring about that convincing
scene.T...
106 NEILFRANCISDELANEY
Therearetwo problemswith the adoptionof this principle.
One is that we have given up on the commons...
A NOTE ON INTENTION AND THE DOCTRINE OF DOUBLE EFFECT 107
negativeevaluationfor the opposition'sactionplan. This way
goes ...
108 NEILFRANCISDELANEY
intendedas an end. The oppositionis forcedto adopt killing
civiliansas an end throughits rationalre...
A NOTE ON INTENTION AND THE DOCTRINE OF DOUBLE EFFECT 109
istration of the drug is likely to bring about death will be
per...
110 NEILFRANCISDELANEY
and (4) the foreseen bad effect is proportional to the good end after which
the action strives.
2 H...
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Delaney_A Note on Intention and the Doctrine of Double Effect_Phil Studies_May 2007

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Delaney_A Note on Intention and the Doctrine of Double Effect_Phil Studies_May 2007

  1. 1. Springer is collaborating with JSTOR to digitize, preserve and extend access to Philosophical Studies: An International Journal for Philosophy in the Analytic Tradition. http://www.jstor.org A Note on Intention and the Doctrine of Double Effect Author(s): Neil Francis Delaney Source: Philosophical Studies: An International Journal for Philosophy in the Analytic Tradition , Vol. 134, No. 2 (May, 2007), pp. 103-110 Published by: Springer Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/40208709 Accessed: 23-09-2015 13:07 UTC Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates your acceptance of the Terms & Conditions of Use, available at http://www.jstor.org/page/ info/about/policies/terms.jsp JSTOR is a not-for-profit service that helps scholars, researchers, and students discover, use, and build upon a wide range of content in a trusted digital archive. We use information technology and tools to increase productivity and facilitate new forms of scholarship. For more information about JSTOR, please contact support@jstor.org. This content downloaded from 129.74.250.206 on Wed, 23 Sep 2015 13:07:29 UTC All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions
  2. 2. Philosophical Studies (2007) 134:103-110 © Springer 2007 DOI 10.1007/sll098-007-9086-z NEIL FRANCIS DELANEY A NOTE ON INTENTIONAND THE DOCTRINE OF DOUBLE EFFECT* ABSTRACT. The purpose of this note is to tidy up some matters con- cerning ascriptions of intention and the employment of the doctrine of double effect (henceforth DDE). I first argue that Jonathan Bennett's efforts to show that DDE is a foolish doctrine are unsatisfactory. I then consider a puzzle of Mark Johnston's that seems to pose a problem for the defender of DDE. I turn to possible solutions to the puzzle, criticize one, and then offer the one I find most appealing. I then show how my proposal for employing DDE enables it to make some distinctions between courses of conduct without issuing foolish pronouncements about moral permissibility. Thepurposeof thisnote is to tidyup somemattersconcerning ascriptionsof intentionand the employmentof the doctrineof doubleeffect(henceforthDDE). DDE in its modernformula- tion basicallystates that in some cases it is worse to directly intenda badthingas a meansto a good endthanit is merelyto foreseethatan equallybadthingwillcomeaboutas a resultof actionswhich are in themselvesmorallyneutralat worst.1A standardapplicationof DDE yieldsdifferentassessmentsas to moralpermissibilityfortwoagents,onea strategicbomber(SB) andtheothera terrorbomber(TB).SBbombsa weaponscache as a means to defeatingthe enemy while foreseeingthat his bombingwillbringaboutanumberofciviliandeaths.TBbombs thesamenumberof civiliansdirectlyasameansto defeatingthe enemy (he intends to demoralizethe enemy). Proponentsof DDE regularlydistinguishSBfromTB bynotingthatwhileSB directlyintendsmerelythe destructionof a weaponscache,TB directlyintendsto kill civilians.This taken togetherwith an absoluteprohibitionagainstdirectlyintendingto kill civilians (eitheras a meansto a good end or as an endin itself) renders TB'sactionplanmorallyimpermissiblewhileleavingopen the possibilitythatSB'sactionplanmaybe morallypermissible. This content downloaded from 129.74.250.206 on Wed, 23 Sep 2015 13:07:29 UTC All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions
  3. 3. 104 NEILFRANCISDELANEY A standardway of determiningwhethera componentof an actionplanis a meansto theendis to assesswhetheror not the componentis causallyefficaciousin securingthe end in ques- tion. It may be causallyefficaciousas the directlypreceding stagein accomplishingthe end or it may only be causallyeffi- caciousin securingsome precedingstage of the plan. In SB's case the killingof civiliansis NOT causallyefficaciousin the way this phraseis used in suchdiscussions;the civiliandeaths are merelya SIDE EFFECT. Destroyingthe weaponscache depletestheenemy'sfirepowerandprovokesa capitulation;the deathsof the civiliansaremerelyforeseen.For SB the civilian deathsarenot causallyefficaciousin producinganystageof his action plan. In TB's case on the other hand, the killing of civilians is causally efficacious;killing the civilians is what producesthe demoralizationof the enemy that leads to sur- render.It is in this importantsense,the sense of what is effi- cacious in producing the stages of the action plan that ultimatelyyields a good outcome, that SB and TB are to be distinguished. Now JonathanBennetthassuggestedthatin factthiswayof looking at TB is all wrong. He claims that what is causally efficaciousin producingenemy demoralizationis simplythat the civilianslie about looking dead. By his lightsTB's action plan does not include the killing of civiliansas a means to producingthegood end;rather,theactionplansimplyincludes a stage involvinga convincingscene of civilianslaughter.On Bennett'saccountTB does not makeuse of the killingof civ- ilians at all. Sincethe killingof civiliansis not requiredas a meansto demoralizationandhenceultimatelyasa meansto the good end,TB'sactionplanshouldnot bediscreditedasmorally impermissibleby DDE. Withrespectto TB theresimplyis no MEANS to the end thatis absolutelyprohibited.Bennettgoes so far as to say that carefulanalysis"makesa mockeryof the wholeidea of whatis intendedas a means."2 Bennett's argument that DDE cannot distinguish even standardcases such as SB and TB fails to hold up under scrutiny.All one needs to do is note that while a convincing sceneof civilianslaughteris all thatis neededto demoralizethe This content downloaded from 129.74.250.206 on Wed, 23 Sep 2015 13:07:29 UTC All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions
  4. 4. A NOTE ON INTENTION AND THE DOCTRINE OF DOUBLE EFFECT 105 enemy, somethingis needed to bring about that convincing scene.TB eschewsalternativessuch as holograms,mind-alter- ingdrugs,etc., andsimplyadoptsas MEANS to producinghis convincing scene the killing of civilians. Killing civilians is causally efficaciousin producingthe appearanceof civilian death.TB'sactionplanthusstillincludesa stage,the killingof civiliansthat is absolutelyprohibitedby proponentsof DDE. HenceDDE has a way of distinguishingSB fromTB;whereas forSBkillingciviliansis not directlyintendedas a meansto the ultimateend,forTB suchkillingis. Bennetthas failedto make a mockeryof DDE in virtueof its relianceon the notion of whatis intendedas a means. Enter Mark Johnston. He offers a case that sidestepsthe inadequaciesof Bennett'srecastingof TB and seems to put DDE in jeopardy,if by that we mean he providesa case that OUGHT to be distinguishedfrom SB but that DDE fails to discredit.Johnstonasksus to consideran enemyhiddenin an impregnablefortress,an enemy that only has access to war room video screens.Thesescreensenablethe enemyto deter- mine simply whethernuclearweapons have been detonated over civilian targets.Now suppose the opposition detonates nuclearweaponsover a civiliantarget;in this case the entire chainof meansend reasoningemployedby the oppositionex- cludes the killing of civilians.Nevertheless,this looks like a morallyimpermissibleterrorbombingthat shouldbe discred- itedby DDE. How mighta proponentof DDE who wouldlike to see the doctrinediscreditthis actionplan respond? Onewaywouldbeto adopta principlesuchasthefollowing: If an agentintendsto do D so as to makeit appearthat P whileforeseeingthatdoingD willmakeit thecasethatP, then for thepurposesof employingDDE the agentis to be takenas intendingthat P. Withthis principlein hand one could arguethat the oppo- sitiondoesindeeddirectlyintendthedeathsof thecivilians;the oppositionwanted to make it appearthat the civilianswere deadto the enemy,and adopteda strategythat the opposition could clearlyforeseewould make it the case that the civilians weredead. This content downloaded from 129.74.250.206 on Wed, 23 Sep 2015 13:07:29 UTC All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions
  5. 5. 106 NEILFRANCISDELANEY Therearetwo problemswith the adoptionof this principle. One is that we have given up on the commonsensenotion of intendingas a MEANSwhichwas to be the basisfor DDE. In Johnston'scase unlikeBennett'skillingciviliansdoes not play anycausalrolein bringingaboutthe enemysurrender.Thatis its beauty, some might suggest. The enemy is provoked to surrendersimplyby what it sees on its war room screensto- gether with some reasonable inferences;the civilians have nothing to do with what ultimately transpires.What the opposition needs is a method for provoking the reasonable inferenceson thepartof theenemy;whatis causallyefficacious in our senseis simplydetonations,not deaths. But this problemis I thinka partof a largerproblemwith the proposed supplementaryprinciple. The problem I am pointing to has to do with the phrase "for the purposesof employingDDE the agentis to be takenas intendingthat P." DDE is best understood as a principle for discriminating betweenmorallypermissibleand morallyimpermissibleaction plansbasedon the conceptof intention,specificallythe notion of intentionas a meansversusintentionas a side effect(what manycallindirectintentionif intentionat all).Thisconcepthas a perfectlysecureplacenot only in philosophicaldiscoursebut in ordinarycommonsense,anditsplaceis securePRIORto any encounterwith a principlesuchas DDE. DDE is a hypothesis aboutthe usefulnessof differencesin intentionas a meansas a wayto morallydiscriminatesomeactionplans.If DDE failsto securewhat some mightdesireas a moraldistinctionbetween action planswe shouldnot modify the conceptof what is in- tended as a means to make the hypothesismore attractive. Rather,we shouldeitherfindsomeotherway of lookingat the matterthat leaves the notion of intentionas a means as we found it or, if this fails, simplygo back to the essenceof the basicmodernformulationof DDE: thedifferencebetweenwhat is directlyintendedas a meansandwhatis merelyforeseenas a side effectsometimesplays a part in distinguishingimpermis- siblefrompermissibleagency. This beingsaid, thereis a rathernaturalway of lookingat Johnston'spuzzle case that might enable DDE to secure a This content downloaded from 129.74.250.206 on Wed, 23 Sep 2015 13:07:29 UTC All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions
  6. 6. A NOTE ON INTENTION AND THE DOCTRINE OF DOUBLE EFFECT 107 negativeevaluationfor the opposition'sactionplan. This way goes backto an earlypaperof Foot's, andplayson the notion of "closeness"in determiningwhatan agentintends,eitheras a meansor as an end.3It can be arguedthat the commonsense conceptof intention,andeventhephilosophicalconceptwhich I have arguedstandsPRIOR to and INDEPENDENTLY of DDE, does not allow a clean separationof componentsof an actionwhenthosecomponentsaresufficientlyclosetogether.It canbearguedthatanintentionto detonatenucleardevicesover civiliansjust IS an intentionto kill the civilians,PRIOR TO andINDEPENDENTLYof anyappealto DDE. Alternatively and perhapsbetter,it can be arguedthat an intentionto det- onate nucleardevicesover civiliansneeds to be linked to an intentionto killciviliansso long as we presumethe agentto be rational. On this latter proposal, closeness demands that a rationalagent cannot have the one intentionwithout at the sametimehavingtheother.Ifeitherof theseprinciplesforwhat maybe calledintentionconsolidation(thereisjust one intention or therearetwo that areinseparable)is acceptable,thenDDE will deem the opposition'saction plan impermissible,which mightbe pleasingto some. Foot goes out of her way to point out that a notion like "closeness"in this contextis boundto involvejudgmentcalls and slipperyslopes, but she writes this off as a danger of making philosophicaldistinctions that attempt to reconcile analysiswithreflectivecommonsense(at anyratethisis how I readFoot).4If this is right,thenwe mightbe rightto say that theoppositionhasadopteda morallyimpermissibleactionplan just insofaras it has adoptedkillingciviliansas a meansto a good end. We would say this just in case there is only one intentionwithtwocomponents(detonatingnucleardevicesand killingcivilians).Alternativelywemightbe rightto saythatthe opposition has adopted a morallyimpermissibleaction plan justinsofaras thatactionplanincludesa directintentionto kill civilians,an intention that necessarilycomes along with the intentionto detonatenucleardevicesas a means.On the latter account the killing of civiliansis not directlyintendedas a means to demoralizethe enemy but is rathersimplydirectly This content downloaded from 129.74.250.206 on Wed, 23 Sep 2015 13:07:29 UTC All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions
  7. 7. 108 NEILFRANCISDELANEY intendedas an end. The oppositionis forcedto adopt killing civiliansas an end throughits rationalrecognitionthat one simplycannotdetonatethedeviceswithoutkillingthecivilians. Thenotionof closenessdoes theworkthrougheitherof two principlesof intentionconsolidation.One may say eitherthat due to theirclosenessan intentionto detonatenucleardevices just is an intentionto killciviliansandhencethe actionplanis morallyimpermissibleunderDDE, or one maysaythatdueto theirclosenessa rationalagentcannot but directlyintendthe deaths of civiliansinsofar as he pursuesan action plan that makes use of nucleardetonationsas a means, equallyunac- ceptableaccordingto DDE. Whetheror not a philosopherfeels inclinedto accepteitherof theseanswersdependson theextent to which he or she feels the notion of closeness is doing a disserviceto the notion of intendingas a means,or, underthe latterformulation,the conceptof directintentionitself. Some may simplybe unwillingto concedeeitherway in which the oppositionmightbe said to directlyintendthe deathsof civil- ians,as a meansor as anend.Thisis a tradeoff,butat leastthis tradeoffapplies to the very concept of intentionratherthan twistingthat conceptin the contextof an application,namely DDE. Supposing we follow Foot and adopt the principle of intention consolidation according to which foreseen effects that are sufficientlyclose to what is intendedas a meansto a good end are themselvesdirectlyintendedas ends, it follows that whetherSB can be morallydistinguishedfromTB simply dependson the particularsof the case at hand. Supposingthe munitionscache is located directlyabove a school, the fact that the bomberforeseesto a practicalcertaintythat bombing the one will kill civiliansprecludeshim from bombing.But if there is some reasonablechance that civilianswill be spared the bomber may well be permittedto bomb the munitions cache. Practicalconsiderationsdeterminethe moral permissi- bility of a proposed action plan when it comes to other examplescustomarilydiscussedby proponentsof the DDE. Administrationof morphineto a terminallyill patient as a means to alleviatesufferingwhile foreseeingthat the admin- This content downloaded from 129.74.250.206 on Wed, 23 Sep 2015 13:07:29 UTC All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions
  8. 8. A NOTE ON INTENTION AND THE DOCTRINE OF DOUBLE EFFECT 109 istration of the drug is likely to bring about death will be permissibleif thereis sufficient"space"betweendruggingand killing. The standarddistinction between craniotomiesand therapeutichysterectomiesso far as killing the fetus is con- cernedprobablyfalls as a casualtyto this approachto DDE, that is to say, since there is no practicaldifferencebetween removinga cancerousuteruscontaininga fetus and crushing the fetus'skull,DDE willnot permiteitheroperation.As for a third classic instance, killing in self-defense,it will depend whether or not the minimum force required to stop the aggressoris sufficientlyclose to that which will kill so as to demandthat a reasonableagentwho employssuch force will necessarilybe takento directlyintendtheaggressor'sdeath.As Foot herselfhas suggested,whetheror not two effectsaretoo close togetherto allowthat one may be simplyforeseenrather than directlyintendeddemandsjudgmentand is open to crit- icismof the sorttypicallyofferedwhenjudgmentof this sortis involved.The fact that DDE may or may not be applicable whenappliedto standardtestcasesdependingon thedetailsof thecaseat handis I thinkhardlylamentable,however.Indeed, looking at DDE in the way I propose helps to shore it up againstcriticismthat it createsan avenuefor people to "get away with murder,"so to speak, as well as the chargethat thereis nothingmore to evaluatingthe test cases than simple utilitariancalculation.Practicalconsiderationsspecificto the case at hand determinewhetheror not an effectcan be clas- sifiedas foreseenbut unintendedand thereforeopen up the door to properapplicationof DDE. NOTES * Thanks to Robert George, Michael Bratman, Gilbert Harman and Mark Johnston for useful discussion and written comments. For a more extended and somewhat different treatment of these issues see my "To Double Business Bound: Reflections on the Doctrine of Double Effect," American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly75, 4, pp. 561-583. For readers unfamiliar with DDE a more precise formulation can be offered: an action may be morally permissible if (1) the end is good (2) the means is at least neutral (3) the foreseen bad effect is not directly intended This content downloaded from 129.74.250.206 on Wed, 23 Sep 2015 13:07:29 UTC All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions
  9. 9. 110 NEILFRANCISDELANEY and (4) the foreseen bad effect is proportional to the good end after which the action strives. 2 Here see Bennett: "I said that the intention was to kill [the civilians] so as to lower morale. But now that turns out to be too crude an account of the matter. All that was intended was that the people's bodies should be inoperative for long enough to cause a general belief that they were dead, this belief lasting long enough to speed the end of the war; there is nothing which requires, through a causally downstream inference [emphasis mine] that the inoperativeness be permanent;and so thereis nothing requiringthat the people actually become dead. Of course [TB]knew that the people would become not merely inoperative for a while but downright dead - he had no hope of achieving the lesser thing without achieving the greater. But the greater thing is complex, and only one constituent of it was intended as a means. Jonathan Bennett, "Morality and Consequences," TannerLectures on Human Values, ed. S. McMurrin (Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 1980), p. 111. 3 Phillippa Foot, "The Problem of Abortion and the Doctrine of the Double Effect," Oxford Review 5 (1967), pp. 5-15. 4 The case Foot has in mind is a classic one according to which DDE distinguishes craniotomies from therapeutic hysterectomies as a means to saving a pregnant mother's life. In craniotomy the skull of the fetus is crushed, whereas in therapeutic hysterectomy the cancerous uterus is removed. DDE traditionally allows the latter procedure while disallowing the former. The idea is that in the latter procedurethe means, removal of the uterus, is neutral while skull crushing is not, being too intimately connected to killing. Hart countered by suggesting that the proper way to regard craniotomy is to view it as a neutral skull modification with the foreseen but unintended effect of bringing about the fetus' death. See H.L.A. Hart, Punishment and Responsibility (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1968), p. 123. He did this because he, like Bennett, is critical of the idea of using what is intended as a means as an evaluative tool, and in particularis critical of DDE. Foot introduced closeness between effects precisely in an attempt to discount Hart's suggested reinterpretation of craniotomy. Departmentof Philosophy GeorgetownUniversity Washington,DC 20057 USA E-mail: cfd22@georgetown.edu This content downloaded from 129.74.250.206 on Wed, 23 Sep 2015 13:07:29 UTC All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

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