Principle of double effect (temporary)
In ethics, some theologiansand philosopherscite the principle of double effect that states the necessary conditions to be met in order for an action to be considered morally right even though accompanied by some sort of evil effect. These are:
- the act itself must be good or morally neutral
- the good effect must be a result of the act and not of the evil effect
- the evil effect must not be directly willed, but may be foreseen and tolerated
- the good effect outweighs the evil effect, or the two are at least comparable
For instance, a vaccinemanufacturer typically knows that while a vaccine will save many lives, a few people will die from side-effects of taking the vaccine. The manufacturing of a drug is in itself morally neutral (assuming that no unethical research practices are used, and that workers are compensated fairly, etc.). The lives are saved as a result of the vaccine, not as a result of the deaths of those who die of side-effects. The bad effect--the deaths due to side-effects--does not further any goals the drug manufacturer has, and hence is not intended as a means to anything. Finally, the number of lives saved is much greater than the number lost, and so the proportionality condition is satisfied. Some moralists add a fifth condition, namely that there must be no alternative. Therefore, if it were possible to find another morally-acceptable way of saving lives, without the risk of death from side-effects, it would not be permissible to produce this vaccine.
The Principle appears useful in war situations. In a just war, it may be morally acceptable to bomb the enemy headquarters to end the war quickly, even if civilians on the streets around the headquarters might die. For, in such a case, the bad effect of civilian deaths is not disproportionate to the good effect of ending the war quickly, and the deaths of the civilians are not intended by the bombers, either as ends or as means. On the other hand, to bomb an enemy orphanage in order to terrorize the enemy into surrender would be unacceptable, because the deaths of the orphans would be intended, in this case as a means to ending the war early, contrary to condition. Whether the Principle applies to the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasakiis a highly controverted question.
- Principle Of Double Effect
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It uses material from the http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Principle+of+double+effect+%28temporary%29 Wikipedia article Principle of double effect (temporary).