Revising the Doctrine of Double Effect

Jeff McMahan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The Doctrine of Double Effect has been challenged by the claim that what an agent intends as a means may be limited to those effects that are precisely characterised by the descriptions under which the agent believes that they are minimally causally necessary for the production of other effects that the agent seeks to bring about. If based on so narrow a conception of an intended means, the traditional Doctrine of Double Effect becomes limitlessly permissive. In this paper I examine and criticise Warren Quinn's attempt to reformulate the Doctrine in such a way that it retains its force and plausibility even if we accept the narrow conception of an intended means. Building on Quinn's insights, I conclude by offering a further version of the Doctrine that retains the virtues of Quinn's account but avoids the objections to it.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)201-212
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Applied Philosophy
Issue number2
StatePublished - Oct 1994

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Philosophy


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