The use of the adjectives “proximate,” “ultimate,” and “direct” as descriptive and discriminating of the ends can be, I grant, confusing.
The intention of an act is dependent on the object of the act. That is, it is impossible for any actor to intend an end not foreseen in the object of the same act. For instance, having described the object of the act as “throwing the switch to kill one and save four,” one could not then claim the intention as “derailing the trolley.” The intention always resides somewhere in the object as the first goal of the actor.
1752 … The end is the first goal of the intention and indicates the purpose pursued in the action.
One may apply the PODE to the trolley exercise but since the act violates the first rule of the PODE, an act evil in its object is never permitted, the conclusion remains the same – the act is immoral.
We agree the intent is good and the proportionality of effects is good. Our disagreement distills then to the proper understanding of the act’s object.
Is the killing of an innocent person foreseen? Yes. Is the act the means by which the one innocent dies? Yes.
> 1753 … The end [intent] does not justify the means. Thus the condemnation of an innocent person cannot be justified as a legitimate means of saving the nation.
To argue that the object of this act “throwing the switch that directs the trolley to kill an innocent person” is somehow different than “pulling the trigger that directs a bullet to kill an innocent person” is, I think, without merit.