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Moral Principles. I. Double Effect Is when there is an act or axn that has 2 (double/dbl) effects: 1 good, 1 bad or evil & you must decide if it is MORALLY permissible to go through w/the act/axn. IT is NOT the “lesser of 2 evils.”. Scenarios Action

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I. Double Effect

Is when there is an act or axn that has 2 (double/dbl) effects: 1 good, 1 bad or evil & you must decide if it is MORALLY permissible to go through w/the act/axn.

IT is NOT the “lesser of 2 evils.”



  • Action


Good/neutral Good/neutral

OK to do





Bad/Evil Bad/Evil

Cannot do action





Good Bad/Evil

??? Go to Double Effect Guidelines


Double Effect Guidelines

  • Act is good or at least neutral
  • Evil/bad effect is foreseen but NOT intended.
  • Good effect does NOT come through the evil.
  • Sufficient reason for allowing association w/the evil effect


A. A person decides to become a banker. Act? Effect?

B. A person steals a book to do their research paper. Act? Effect?

C. A woman is pregnant. She also has cancer of the uterus. The Drs. can only save her by removing the uterus, but the unborn child is still too young to survive out side the womb. Is it morally permissible to do the act?


Using the dbl effect method we just went through answer the following cases. For each MUST ANSWER 1-4 & then your conclusion.

  • A person is in severe pain which can only be relieved through a narcotic prescription. However, this may have side effects such as mental confusion or stroke.
  • A parent donates a kidney for his child. The child will die w/o the transplant.
  • A women gets a procured abortion to further her career.
  • A woman is pregnant w/twins. One of the twins has died in utero & can endanger the other’s life. Removing the twin may also endanger the life. Can the removal be done?

II. Dominion: deals w/the inviobility of human life: i.e., NO lethal attack or assault upon any innocent human life. EVERYONE has a righttolife from conception to a natural death.

Rom 14:7-10: We do not live to ourselves and we do not die to ourselves. If we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord; so then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s. For to this end Christ died and lived again, so that he might be Lord of both the dead and the living.


We’re ALL created. As God is the “Lord and Giver of life” only He, as Creator, has ABSOLUTE or complete, total dominion over our lives.

  • We, on the other hand, have useful or limited dominion over life – including our own. Even though it is our body, we do NOT have the right to all or anything we may want to do w/it.

1 Cor 6:19-20: Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, which you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you were bought with a price; therefore glorify God in your body.


**** We are the tenants, NOT the Landlord of our existence.” C.S.Lewis ****

Absolute: God



Useful: Us



God is the Lord of life, having complete dominion

  • We’re caretakers & are not permitted to do certain things to ourselves – especially if it’s against divine law or the NML – anything that is His exclusive right. Eg: abortion, suicide, euthanasia, etc.

“We are the tenants, NOT the Landlord of our existence.” C.S.Lewis

On loose leaf explain this quote in light of the moral principle of Dominion


III. Totality: for the TOTAL integral good of the person, it is permissible to sacrifice a limb, organ, or suppress a system. This is an intentional mutilation & does NOT deal w/Dbl Effect UNLESS it involves the reproductive organs, in which case dbl effect would apply.


  • remove a cancerous kidney; you intentionally cut into & remove this organ for the TOTAL good of the person.
  • Suppress the immune system b/c of a transplant
  • Facelift, implants, etc…physical well being???

***** Because the reproductive organs are for the benefit of the person and are part of Divine & Natural Law (Dominion), non disease sterilization would NOT be permitted.*****

IV. Co-operation: (chart) usually involves the work place/situation. It deals w/involvement, help, or complicity in axns. If it’s a good/neutral axn – no problem, If not: moral problems.


A) Formal



a) Proximate

B) Material


b) Remote

= acceptable path


A. Formal: person who knows & agrees to help in what is wrong.

B. Material: a person’s service is being put to a wrong use & they do not agree to that use.

  • Immediate: phys’l necessity of the person to cause the effect. Usually (not always) same person as formal. Eg: an anesthesiologist who helps in an abortion.
  • Mediate: person’s people who are there when wrong(s) are being done. Eg: nurse who takes care of women on floor where abortions are being done.

Proximate: close to procedure being doe. Eg: being in the room w/a person committing suicide.

  • Remote: Eg: Nurse who works in a hospital where abortions are done or a day worker in an abortion clinic.

Essays for Exam

You MUST do A or B then C or D OR Do A & B

A. Define a procured abortion. Be sure to include the human life continuum.

B. Explain what is/is not Euthanasia. Be sure to include ordinary/extra ordinary means.

C. Give the chart for cooperation; show the permissible chain of events.

D. Discuss any ONE: dominion or totality or double effect including the guidelines