Master of Arts (MA)


Philosophy and Religious Studies

Document Type



The purpose of this paper is to address the doubts that surround the intention/foresight distinction of the Doctrine of Double Effect (DDE). The claim is made by some that this distinction is merely a semantic one or if real, it is morally irrelevant. It will be argued that this is the result of doubts that surround the contributions of theory in applied ethics and the double think that sometimes results from the misuse of the DDE. I will argue that the intention/foresight distinction in the DDE is a real one and can be made on the level of practice, without the need for theoretical support. In order to see this it is necessary to understand several things. First one must appreciate the historical development and context of the DDE. Secondly, is the need to understand the deontological framework from which the DDE grew a framework in which intention figures prominently though not exclusively. I further argue that one must appreciate the difference between theory and practice as seen in the difference between a theoretical and practical epistemology. Lastly, it will be argued that the DDE is better used as a principle of explanation rather that a principle of justification. Then based on what has been discussed I will give to two examples of possible illegitimate uses of the intention/foresight distinction in DDE in the area of bioethics and note why they are problematic. Then I will provide examples of two legitimate use of the intention/foresight distinction in the DDE and note why they are legitimate



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

James Taylor