Intention, Character, and Double Effect
256 pages, 6.00 x 9.00
Hardcover | 9780268104696 | October 2018
eBook | 9780268104719 | October 2018
eBook | 9780268104726 | October 2018
The principle of double effect has a long history, from scholastic disputations about self-defense and scandal to current debates about terrorism, torture, euthanasia, and abortion. Despite being widely debated, the principle remains poorly understood. In Intention, Character, and Double Effect, Lawrence Masek combines theoretical and applied questions into a systematic defense of the principle that does not depend on appeals to authority or intuitions about cases. Masek argues that actions can be wrong because they corrupt the agent's character and that one must consider the agent's perspective to determine which effects the agent intends. This defense of the principle clears up common confusions and overcomes critics' objections, including confusions about trolley and transplant cases and objections from neuroscience and moral psychology. This book will interest scholars and students in different fields of study, including moral philosophy, action theory, moral theology, and moral psychology. Its discussion of contemporary ethical issues and sparse use of technical jargon make it suitable for undergraduate and graduate courses in applied ethics. The appendix summarizes the main cases that have been used to illustrate or to criticize the principle of double effect.
Lawrence Masek is professor of philosophy at Ohio Dominican University.
"Masek convincingly argues that double effect captures the venerable Socratic insight that an agent uniquely corrupts his or her character in deliberately harmful acts that, thereby, differ from simply harmful acts. Responding to the common criticism of double effect—that it confuses act- with agent-assessment—Masek offers a comprehensive insightful argument as to how and why agent and act-evaluation form a unity that moralists must not put asunder. A must-read contribution for devotees of the double effect debate that locates the (at times seemingly exotic) account in the daily Socratic search to live the good life." ~T. A. Cavanaugh, University of San Francisco
“Lawrence Masek argues for a view of intention that is agent-centered all around: both in its account of what is intended and what is a side effect, and in its account of why intention matters. Masek deals with a number of controversial cases, such as craniotomy, salpingotomy, and the Phoenix abortion case, which illustrate the different claims made by an agent-centered approach from other approaches, and defends those claims against various objections.” ~Christopher Tollefsen, author of Lying and Christian Ethics