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  #11  
Old 19th November 2007, 10:00 PM
Ron Conte Ron Conte is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Climacus Areopagite View Post
The bottom climber percieves that the spike cannot hold the weight of all three climbers and so he decides to cut himself off the rope, resulting in death from fall in order to save the top two climbers.
1. I dont know is this a suicide? Or a morally neutral act or a moral act? If a suicide them it would null the double effect.
2. The taking of one's own life is intended to save the life of the two others.
3. The bad effect is the taking of his life, the good effect is the saving of the two others.

The intention is to save the other two climbers.
The act of cutting the rope does not directly kill the last of the three climbers, so the act is morally neutral; it is not the direct and voluntary killing of an innocent human being (i.e. murder).
The good effect is that two lives are saved, and the military mission is saved (assuming just war and just target).
The bad effect is that one life is lost.

So the principle of double effect applies (in this very hypothetical case),
and the act is moral.
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  #12  
Old 19th November 2007, 10:07 PM
Ron Conte Ron Conte is offline
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Another scenario:

A soldier is in a foxhole with two other troops. A grenade is thrown by the enemy into the foxhole. He throws himself on the grenade, saving his fellow troops but losing his own life.

The act might seem to be direct killing of himself, but the moral act is not necessarily the same as the external act. His act is that of shielding the other soldiers from the blast with his body. So the act is moral under the positive commandment, love thy neighbor.

The good effect is saving the lives of his fellow soldiers.
The bad effect is the loss of his own life. The good effect
outweighs the bad effect. The intention is also good.

So the principle of double effect applies and the act is moral.
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  #13  
Old 19th November 2007, 10:21 PM
Brother Brother is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ron Conte View Post
St. Thomas More was correct. The act is giving a medicine for pain relief, so the act itself is not murder and is moral (falling under the positive commandment of love thy neighbor). The two effects are the hastening of death and the relief of pain. The good of relieving pain has to outweight the hastening of death. This of course applies only when the patient is terminally ill.

There are of course other considerations in the practical case. A doctor has no way of knowing the exact level of pain medication that will begin to hasten death, nor by how much. The particular response of each patient may be biochemically different.

Question,

Wouldn’t that be accelerating the patient’s death?

I need clarification here: Maybe I was on a different page.

The case I was thinking of is when a patient is permanently ill (not terminally ill) and no one knows when this patient is going to die. So if the doctor gives the patient tranquilizers knowing that this is going to accelerate his death, I think, in this case, would be (perhaps indirect) murder because the doctors knows that is going to take the patient’s life pretty sooner than without the appliance of such medicine. There could be other resources that a doctor can go for in order to save the patient’s life since, even though, the patient is permanently ill, his life is not in jeopardy. e.g.: a patient who is permanently on bed depending o an oxygen machine.
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  #14  
Old 19th November 2007, 10:48 PM
Ron Conte Ron Conte is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brother View Post
The case I was thinking of is when a patient is permanently ill (not terminally ill) and no one knows when this patient is going to die. So if the doctor gives the patient tranquilizers knowing that this is going to accelerate his death, I think, in this case, would be (perhaps indirect) murder because the doctors knows that is going to take the patientís life pretty sooner than without the appliance of such medicine. There could be other resources that a doctor can go for in order to save the patientís life since, even though, the patient is permanently ill, his life is not in jeopardy. e.g.: a patient who is permanently on bed depending o an oxygen machine.

If the patient is chronically seriously ill, pain medication does not hasten death. There may be a risk of death for any treatment, surgery, or medication for someone who is very ill. The pain medications are still justified because the act itself is moral: treating the sick.

If the doctor gave an excessive dosage of pain medication to someone chronically ill, or to anyone, knowing that it would cause death, that would be murder.

Notice that the external act is the same, giving pain medication.
But in the one case, the act as pertains to morality is the act of killing with a drug, but in the other case, the act is that of treating severe pain.
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  #15  
Old 19th November 2007, 10:56 PM
Brother Brother is offline
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Thanks Ron,

I guess in cases of war there could be many of double effects examples.

Here is mine:

A case of a just rescue:

A rescuer knocks an uncontrolled noisy person out in order to quiet him down to save his life in enemy lines (this could happen in a hostage situation too where the hostage doen't understand that they are trying to rescue him).

The intention of the rescuer is to silence a noisy hostage so the enemy does not realize what is happening.

Good effect: saving the hostage's life (for he is condemned to death or can be murdered at any time by the enemy).
Bad effect: punching (or knocking) the hostage down.

The good effect outweighs the bad effect.

Last edited by Brother : 19th November 2007 at 10:59 PM.
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  #16  
Old 19th November 2007, 11:05 PM
Ron Conte Ron Conte is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brother View Post
A rescuer knocks an uncontrolled noisy person out in order to quiet him down to save his life in enemy lines (this could happen in a hostage situation too where the hostage doen't understand that they are trying to rescue him).

The intention of the rescuer is to silence a noisy hostage so the enemy does not realize what is happening.

Good effect: saving the hostage's life (for he is condemned to death or can be murdered at any time by the enemy).
Bad effect: punching (or knocking) the hostage down.

The good effect outweighs the bad effect.

You have to also consider the act itself, not merely the intention.
But that examples works as an illustration of the principle.
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  #17  
Old 20th November 2007, 06:07 AM
garabandalg garabandalg is offline
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For this thread, we'll consider situations where the principle of double effect applies:
1. the act is either moral or neutral in morality; if the act is intrinsically evil, then the principle of double effect does not apply.
2. the act is done with good intention; any act done with ill intent is immoral due to the intention, even if the act itself is good (such as donating to charity)
3. the act has two effects: one good and one bad

For the act to be moral, the good effect must outweigh the bad effect.

What about this simple example. Suppose I know someone who is married and has some children. I discover that said person is being unfaithful to his wife. I decide to speak to the person and not to tell the wife about that person's infidelity. My reasons for trying to convince said person are moral because they are an effort to stop that person from continuing to sin and harm his marriage. My intentions are good because they seek to help that marriage and the family involved. My contact with that unfaithful husband may have two effects, one good and one bad. The good effect is that the husband stops being unfaithful to his wife and the bad effect is that he decides to leave his wife. The good effect of the husband stopping his unfaithfulness to the marriage outweighs the harm of his leaving. While leaving the wife is not a good thing, at least it is an honest thing in that it openly demonstrates that he is not interested in doing his part to keep the marriage alive. It is bad for the wife to suffer initially, but in the long run it will allow her to move on rather than being disrespected by a cheating husband. Now, as to deciding not to tell the wife first, that was a moral thing with good intentions because I knew that telling her would only make things worse and not give him a chance to change his ways. Despite the fact that the there was a chance that either the husband or wife would leave if I tried first to make him see the error of his ways, there would be a 100% certainty that this marriage would break up if I told her first. Does this example fit the bill?
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  #18  
Old 20th November 2007, 11:38 AM
Ron Conte Ron Conte is offline
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That's a fairly good example. But I'm not sure if you can consider every decision that they make concerning their marriage, after you intervene, to be an effect of your act. Results of our actions which are remote from the act itself and which are the direct result of the decisions and actions of others are not really effects of our acts.
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  #19  
Old 20th November 2007, 12:49 PM
garabandalg garabandalg is offline
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Default Another example

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ron Conte View Post
That's a fairly good example. But I'm not sure if you can consider every decision that they make concerning their marriage, after you intervene, to be an effect of your act. Results of our actions which are remote from the act itself and which are the direct result of the decisions and actions of others are not really effects of our acts.

true, but at least on the initial level, this is an example reminding us that we may sometimes be called upon to do the right thing knowing that some unfortunate things ride along.

Example: You know a single mother school bus driver who is taking drugs. You realize that while the woman needs the job to support her kids, the safety of those kids is a much greater moral value. Similarly, you have the issue of a few lives affected ( she loses her job and, maybe custody of her kids) versus many more lives affected ( every child in that bus plus their loved ones). Your act and intentions are proper, there is a good and bad result, but the good far outweighs the bad. In fact, if you did not act, you would be the one acting immorally and irresponsibly. Some might even say you are a contributing cause, a possible passive contributor, to any harm that may result to those children as a result of the driver's drug use.
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  #20  
Old 20th November 2007, 04:19 PM
Rob Rob is offline
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Here is a simple example (until I find a better one).
Amputation or cutting someone's arm is immoral but might become moral under certain circumstances.

For example, let's pretend someone did get a very deep wound on his arm which got infected. After some time gangrene develops on the arm and amputation is required by the doctors otherwise the patient would die as a result of the infection.
The bad effect is that the patient loses his arm, the good effect is that his life is saved; the good effect outweights the bad effect, since life is more important than part of a body. Amputation is moral in this case since it is used to save a life.
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