Double Effect and intristic evil


#1

I'm having trouble understanding one aspect of double effect. the act ITSELF must be morally good or morally neutral. DOes that mean that any act that is not intrictically, unexcusably sinful can be something that potentially falls into double effect?

I guess thats what always stumps me with the examples I read, being able to seperate the act ITSELF from the act doing a bad thing, and therefore being unable to seperate the act from its bad effect.


#2

By ‘act’, you mean the thing that is done, not the good effect or the bad effect, right?

The answer, formally speaking, is ‘no’: you’re correct that intrinsic evil cannot be done, but it’s also true that if an act is immoral in its context, then it cannot be justified using double effect.

I guess thats what always stumps me with the examples I read, being able to seperate the act ITSELF from the act doing a bad thing, and therefore being unable to seperate the act from its bad effect.

What do you mean by ‘doing a bad thing’? Are you calling the bad effect some ‘bad thing’ that is done?


#3

[quote="VioletIris5, post:1, topic:322458"]
I'm having trouble understanding one aspect of double effect. the act ITSELF must be morally good or morally neutral. DOes that mean that any act that is not intrictically, unexcusably sinful can be something that potentially falls into double effect?

I guess thats what always stumps me with the examples I read, being able to seperate the act ITSELF from the act doing a bad thing, and therefore being unable to seperate the act from its bad effect.

[/quote]

You are correct that an act that is not intrinsically evil can be a candidate for consideration under double effect. That is why the intent of the one doing the act and the circumstances come into play. On the other hand, an intrinsically evil act, such as adultery, can never be morally acceptable.

There is a scene in the movie, "Master and Commander" where a mast of the ship has broken in a storm and threatens to sink the ship. There is a sailor in the water who fell overboard when the mast fell that is swimming towards the mast to save himself. The captain cuts the rope to save the ship. As a consequence, the sailor will drown.

The act in this case is the cutting of the rope, which in itself, away from the intent or the circumstances, can be considered a morally neutral act. The intent of the captain, to save his ship, is a morally good act,thus making the cutting of the rope a morally good act. The evil of the drowning of the sailor, while forseen, is not intended.

Let us look at another example: You see that two men are using a rope and pullies to haul up a piano. You don't like the men, so you cut the rope so the piano drops and kills them. In this instance, the act is the same, cutting the rope. The intention of the one performing the act is to murder, thus making the act of cutting the rope an immoral act.

I hope this helps.


#4

But that’s what I don’t understand. If we cannot do something that is immoral n it’s context…if it’s not intristicaly evil, wouldn’t the context be the bad effect? I don’t really understand. Can you give me an example?


#5

In other words, there are two thing here, and I don't understand how they're different

"A morally neutral act may be permitted, even though there is a chance of an evil result" (other requirements of DE counted, of course)

and

"A morally neutral act may not be permitted if the cistumstances make it sinful"

...but...whats the difference? If some evil or sin could arise from a morally neutral act in DE, wouldn't that make it "sinful in this circumstance?"


#6

[quote="VioletIris5, post:5, topic:322458"]
In other words, there are two thing here, and I don't understand how they're different

"A morally neutral act may be permitted, even though there is a chance of an evil result" (other requirements of DE counted, of course)

and

"A morally neutral act may not be permitted if the cistumstances make it sinful"

...but...whats the difference? If some evil or sin could arise from a morally neutral act in DE, wouldn't that make it "sinful in this circumstance?"

[/quote]

Not necessarily - if evil is the point of the act, then yes. If the evil is considered to be a good result, then yes. If the person does not spend enough time trying to figure out how to avoid the evil (which depending on the circumstances, could be any amount of time from nearly 0 on), then yes.

But if there is an unintended bad side effect that the person cannot see how to avoid, and the intent behind the act is good, etc etc, then the act may be acceptable.


#7

Ok, I think that helps clarify it a little. It's hard sometimes to mentally juggle all of the qualifications at once!


#8

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