Review Notes - Taking Life, Inflicting Suffering: —...

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Unformatted text preview: Taking Life, Inflicting Suffering: — THIRTEENTH AMENDMENT AND SECTION 1 OF FOURTEENTH AMENDMENT —THE FUNCTION OF CRIMINAL PROCEEDINGS —CLOSE LINK BETWEEN LYNCHING AND CAPITAL PUNISHMENT —LINGERING LEGACY OF SLAVERY —CRYSTALLIZING EVENTS SOCIAL MOVEMENT IS BORN Types of Ethical Thinking and Moral Dilemmas: Ethics: standards of behavior that tell us how human beings ought to act in the many situations in which they find themselves ­as friends, parents, children, citizens, businesspeople, teachers, professionals, and so on. Ethics is NOT: feelings, religion, following the law, following culturally accepted norms, or science. identifying the ethical standards: 1. On what do we base our ethical standards? 2. How do those standards get applied to specific situations we face? Five Sources of Ethical Standards: 1. Utilitarian Approach  the most good or does the least harm *produces the greatest balance of good over harm* 2. Rights Approach  best protects and respects the moral rights (rights to make one's own choices about what kind of life to lead, to be told the truth, not to be injured, to a degree of privacy) of those affected * the duty to respect others' rights* 3. Fairness or Justice Approach  treat all human beings equally ­or if unequally, then fairly based on some standard that is defensible *all equals should be treated equally* 4. Common Good Approach  interlocking relationships of society are the basis of ethical reasoning and that respect and compassion for all others ­ especially the vulnerable ­are requirements of such reasoning. Also, the common conditions that are important to the welfare of everyone (laws, effective police and fire departments, health care, a public educational system, or even public recreational areas.) *life in community is a good in itself and our actions should contribute to that life* 5. Virtue Approach  consistent with certain ideal virtues that provide for the full development of our humanity *"What kind of person will I become if I do this?" or "Is this action consistent with my acting at my best?"* First Problem: we may not agree on the content of some of these specific approaches. We may not all agree to the same set of human and civil rights. Second problem: the different approaches may not all answer the question "What is ethical?" Having a method for ethical decision ­making is absolutely essential. Only by careful exploration of the problem, aided by the insights and different perspectives of others, can we make good ethical choices in such situations. Doctrine of Double Effect 1. Formulations of the principle of double effect The doctrine (or principle) of double effect is often invoked to explain the permissibility of an action that causes a serious harm, such as the death of a human being, as a side effect of promoting some good end. This reasoning is summarized with the claim that sometimes it is permissible to bring about as a merely foreseen side effect a harmful event that it would be impermissible to bring about intentionally. Thomas Aquinas is credited with introducing the principle of double effect in his discussion of the permissibility of self-defense in the Summa Theologica (II-II, Qu. 64, Art.7). Later versions of the double effect principle all emphasize the distinction between causing a morally grave harm as a side effect of pursuing a good end and causing a harm as a means of pursuing a good end. The New Catholic Encyclopedia provides four conditions for the application of the principle of double effect: 1. The act itself must be morally good or at least indifferent. 2. The agent may not positively will the bad effect but may permit it. If he could attain the good effect without the bad effect he should do so. The bad effect is sometimes said to be indirectly voluntary. 3. The good effect must flow from the action at least as immediately (in the order of causality, though not necessarily in the order of time) as the bad effect. In other words the good effect must be produced directly by the action, not by the bad effect. Otherwise the agent would be using a bad means to a good end, which is never allowed. 4. The good effect must be sufficiently desirable to compensate for the allowing of the bad effect” (p. 1021). Conditions provided by Joseph Mangan include the explicit requirement that the bad effect not be intended: 1. that the action in itself from its very object be good or at least indifferent; 2. that the good effect and not the evil effect be intended; 3. that the good effect be not produced by means of the evil effect; 4. that there be a proportionately grave reason for permitting the evil effect” (1949, p. 43). 2. Applications Many morally reflective people have been persuaded that something along the lines of double effect must be correct. No doubt this is because at least some of the examples cited as illustrations of DE have considerable intuitive appeal: 1. The terror bomber aims to bring about civilian deaths in order to weaken the resolve of the enemy: when his bombs kill civilians this is a consequence that he intends. The strategic bomber aims at military targets while foreseeing that bombing such targets will cause civilian deaths. When his bombs kill civilians this is a foreseen but unintended consequence of his actions. Even if it is equally certain that the two bombers will cause the same number of civilian deaths, terror bombing is impermissible while strategic bombing is permissible. 2. A doctor who intends to hasten the death of a terminally ill patient by injecting a large dose of morphine would act impermissibly because he intends to bring about the patient's death. However, a doctor who intended to relieve the patient's pain with that same dose and merely foresaw the hastening of the patient's death would act permissibly. 3. A doctor who believed that abortion was wrong, even in order to save the mother's life, might nevertheless consistently believe that it would be permissible to perform a hysterectomy on a pregnant woman with cancer. In carrying out the hysterectomy, the doctor would aim to save the woman's life while merely foreseeing the death of the fetus. Performing an abortion, by contrast, would involve intending to kill the fetus as a means to saving the mother. 4. To kill a person whom you know to be plotting to kill you would be impermissible because it would be a case of intentional killing; however, to strike in self-defense against an aggressor is permissible, even if one foresees that the blow by which one defends oneself will be fatal. 5. It would be wrong to throw someone into the path of a runaway trolley in order to stop it and keep it from hitting five people on the track ahead; that would involve intending harm to the one as a means of saving the five. But it would be permissible to divert a runaway trolley onto a track holding one and away from a track holding five: in that case one foresees the death of the one as a side effect of saving the five but one does not intend it. 6. Sacrificing one's own life in order to save the lives of others can be distinguished from suicide by characterizing the agent's intention: a soldier who throws himself on a live grenade intends to shield others from its blast and merely foresees his own death; by contrast, a person who commits suicide intends to bring his or her own life to an end. 3. Criticisms Does the principle of double effect play the important explanatory role that has been claimed for it? Three misinterpretations of the principle's force or range of application are common. First, it is a misinterpretation to claim that the principle of double effect shows that agents may permissibly bring about harmful effects provided that they are merely foreseen side effects of promoting a good end. Applications of double effect always presuppose that some kind of proportionality condition has been satisfied. Traditional formulations of double effect require that the value of promoting the good end outweigh the disvalue of the harmful side effect. Michael Walzer has argued that an additional condition is required: that agents minimize the foreseen harm even if this will involve accepting additional risk or foregoing some benefit. Whether this kind of condition is satisfied may depend on the agent's current circumstances and the options that exist. Thus, for example, as techniques of palliative care have improved and as new techniques for managing pain have been refined, what might in the past have been an adequate justification for hastening death in the course of pain relief might now be inadequate because current techniques may provide the better alternative of managing pain without hastening death. A second misinterpretation The principle presupposes that agents do not aim to cause morally grave harms as an end and seeks to guide decisions about causing harm in pursuing a morally good end. In the allegedly impermissible case, the physician's ultimate end is a good one — to alleviate suffering — not to cause death. The principle of double effect is directed at well-intentioned agents who ask whether they may cause a serious harm in order to bring about a good end of overriding moral importance when it is impossible to bring about the good end without the harm. For example, if the soldier who throws himself on the grenade in order to shield his fellow soldiers from the force of an explosion acts permissibly, and if the permissibility of his action is explained by double effect, then he must not intend to sacrifice his own life in order to save the others, he must merely foresee that his life will end as a side effect of his action. Proponents of double effect have always acknowledged that a proportionality condition must be satisfied when double effect is applied, but this condition typically requires only that the good effect outweigh the foreseen bad effect or that there be sufficient reason for causing the bad effect. Class Notes: Know: Double effect highlighted, focus on highlighted material Understand: ethical considerations Listen to radio episode The way you view life effects decisions on abortion and life etc. There is power in empathy (some lives are more worthy of protection and support than others), connection 80 ­90% of abortions occur in the first trimester Trolley Problem: A dilemma The principle: moral empathy We tend to demonize those who disagree w/ us ...
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