Aristotle and Double Effect

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There are some interesting similarities between Aristotle’s ‘mixed actions’ in Book III of the Nicomachean Ethics and the actions often thought to be justifiable with the Doctrine of Double Effect. Here I analyse these similarities by comparing Aristotle’s examples of mixed actions with standard cases from the literature on double effect such as, amongst others, strategic bombing, the trolley problem, and craniotomy. I find that, despite some common features such as the dilemmatic structure and the inevitability of a bad effect, Aristotle’s mixed actions do not count as cases justifiable through application of the Doctrine of Double Effect because they fail to meet the crucial necessary condition of the Doctrine according to which the bad effect can only be a merely foreseen side- effect and not an intended means.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Ancient Philosophy
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)20-48
Number of pages29
Publication statusPublished - 2014
Externally publishedYes

ID: 136813106