Conceptions of morality and the doctrine of double effect

W N Nelson
Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 1991, 16 (5): 545-64
Whether one should accept a principle like DDE cannot be settled independent of one's more general moral theory. In this, I take it, I agree with Professor Boyle, though I do not think he has shown that DDE has a role only in his particular form of absolutism. Still, since his theory does require DDE, an important question is what the alternatives are--whether we must choose between this absolutism and either utilitarianism or intuitionism. A form of contractualism, the requirements of which derive to a large extent from institutionally or conventionally established rights, is sketched here as an attractive alternative. It does not lead, so far as I can see, to DDE.

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