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The principle of double effect—also known as the rule of double effect; the doctrine of double effect, often abbreviated as DDE or PDE, double-effect reasoning; or simply double effect—is a set of ethical criteria which Christian philosophers, and some others, have advocated for evaluating the permissibility of acting when one's otherwise legitimate act may also cause an effect one would normally be obliged to avoid . Double-effect originates in Thomas Aquinas' treatment of homicidal self-defense, in his work Summa Theologica.

The principle of double effect—also known as the rule of double effect; the doctrine of double effect, often abbreviated as DDE or PDE, double-effect reasoning; or simply double effect—is a set of ethical criteria which Christian philosophers, and some others, have advocated for evaluating the permissibility of acting when one's otherwise legitimate act (for example, relieving a terminally ill patient's pain) may also cause an effect one would normally be obliged to avoid (sedation and a slightly shortened life). Double-effect originates in Thomas Aquinas' treatment of homicidal self-defense, in his work Summa Theologica.

This set of criteria states that an action having foreseen harmful effects practically inseparable from the good effect is justifiable if the following are true:

  • the nature of the act is itself good, or at least morally neutral;
  • the agent intends the good effect and not the bad either as a means to the good or as an end itself;
  • the good effect outweighs the bad effect in circumstances sufficiently grave to justify causing the bad effect and the agent exercises due diligence to minimize the harm.

What is the Doctrine of Double Effect? (Philosophical Definition)

A brief explanation of the four criteria of the famous Catholic Doctrine of Double Effect (originally created by St. Thomas Aquinas) and how it can be applied to ...

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Professor Alissa Thorell discusses the principle of double effect and how it sometimes applies in difficult moral situations.

The Doctrine of Double Effect

6 introductory points on the doctrine of double effect Bibliography Anderson, Susan, 1998. “The Double Effect of Pain Medication: Separating Myth from Reality” ...

NCBC: What is The Moral Principle of Double Effect?

http://www.ncbcenter.org NCBC: What is The Moral Principle of Double Effect?

What is PRINCIPLE OF DOUBLE EFFECT? What does PRINCIPLE OF DOUBLE EFFECT mean?

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“The Principle of Double Effect” – Ethics, Video 12

What should we do in situations where our words and actions will cause both good & bad outcomes? In this video, the Rev. Dr. Jayme Mathias, pastor of Holy ...