Why Kamm's principle of secondary permissibility cannot save the doctrine of double effect

Esben Overland

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    Abstract

    The DDE yields counterintuitive verdicts about certain cases: it may deem it permissible to kill a certain number of people when they are not used as means and their death is not intended, but deny that killing fewer of these people is permissible if that requires intending their death, or using them as means. To accommodate the judgement that we may kill the lesser number in such cases, supporters of the DDE may appeal to Frances Kamm's Principle of Secondary Permissibility (PSP). The principle says, roughly, that if it is permissible to kill n people when not intending their death, or using them as means, then it is permissible to kill n - m people in a way that does involve intending their deaths, or using them as means, as 'secondarily permissible' (where m > 0). In this article I argue that appealing to the PSP to solve the puzzling cases of the DDE is generally misleading and that it fails in particular cases. The crux of my argument is that the PSP allows killings that go against the grain of the DDE.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)286-296
    Number of pages11
    JournalJournal of Applied Philosophy
    Volume33
    Issue number3
    Early online date2015
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 2016

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