[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.
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.