The Problem of Abortion and the Doctrine of the Double Effect*

Philippa Foot

in Virtues and Vices

Published in print October 2002 | ISBN: 9780199252862
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780191597435 | DOI:
The Problem of Abortion and the Doctrine of the Double Effect*

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Abortion is considered in relation to the doctrine of the double effect, which distinguishes between the intentions behind an action and consequences foreseen but not desired. This doctrine, often used to defend the position of the Catholic Church on abortion, is here rejected. Alternative distinctions are drawn, between what we do and what we allow to happen, and between the infringement of ‘positive’ and ‘negative’ duties. These distinctions are applied to the problem of abortion and to other moral dilemmas.

Keywords: abortion; Catholic Church; doctrine of the double effect; duties; negative duties; positive duties

Chapter.  5905 words. 

Subjects: Moral Philosophy

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