American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly: Vol. 89, No. 3, Summer 2015

The Review of Metaphysics, September 2015 | Go to article overview

American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly: Vol. 89, No. 3, Summer 2015


On Why and How Intention Matters, HEIDI M. GIEBEL

While our common sense seems to tell us that intention matters to ethical evaluation, there is considerable disagreement among ethicists regarding why and how it matters. This article argues that intention matters to act evaluation in much the way that the principle of double effect (PDE) implies. First, it identifies five propositions--one epistemological and four ethical--that the proponent of PDE holds regarding the ethical relevance of intention. Second, it gives two general arguments for the ethical relevance of intention. Third, it offers preliminary arguments for each of the five propositions outlined in the first section. Together, these general and more specific arguments are meant to place the burden of proof on one denying intention's relevance to act evaluation. Fourth and finally, then, it shows that recent critiques of PDE and of the ethical relevance of intention fail to carry that burden of proof.

The Doctrine of Double Effect: Some Remarks on Intention and Evaluation, NEIL DELANEY

This essay consists of some clarifying remarks on the doctrine of double effect (DDE). After providing a contemporary formulation of the doctrine we put special emphasis on the distinction between those aspects of an action plan that are intended and those that are merely foreseen (the I/F distinction). Making use of this distinction is often made difficult in practice because salient aspects of the action plan exhibit a felt "closeness" to one another that is difficult if not impossible to articulate with the precision we might like. The essay goes on to examine an especially adroit criticism of DDE best articulated by J. J. Thomson. It concludes with a brand new double effect case (new to the philosophical literature anyway) taken from medicine and Roman Catholic pastoral ministry.

Double Effect and Two Hard Cases in Medical Ethics, CHRISTOPHER TOLLEFSEN

Two hard cases have generated controversy regarding the application of the principle of double effect in recent years. As regards the first, the case of the conjoined twins of Malta, there has been considerable convergence: most natural law ethicists seem to agree that separation of the twins was morally permissible. By contrast, the so-called Phoenix case, involving an abortion at a Catholic hospital for a woman with pulmonary arterial hypertension, has become a touchstone of disagreement between defenders of the so-called "new" natural law theory, and more "traditional" Thomists. The essay argues that, contrary to widespread opinion, the two cases were alike in the following respect: in neither need the principal agents have intended the death of anyone.

Death and Other Harms: Intention and the Problem of Closeness, JOSEPH SHAW

This paper considers the problem of closeness in the ethical use of intention. In section I, attempts inspired by Anscombe to use a "coarse grained" understanding of intention, to deal with certain difficult cases, are rejected. In section II it is argued that the difficult cases can be addressed using other moral principles. In section III a more detailed account of intention is set out, analyzing intention as a reason for action, and in section IV two paradoxes apparently created by this account are addressed: on the contrast between intentions and intentional action, and the difference between killing a group of people together or individually. In section V another set of cases is considered, to test how this account of intention handles the intention of harm. Section VI considers the objection that an agent may cause what is a harm without intending it as a harm.

The Problem with Aquinas's Original Discovery, MICHAEL BARNWELL

Jacques Maritain asserted that Aquinas's explanation of sin's origin is "one of the most original of his philosophical discoveries." In this explanation, Aquinas traces the origin of sin back to the will's defect of failing to consider or use the rule of divine law. …

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American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly: Vol. 89, No. 3, Summer 2015
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