Philippa Foot’s “The Problem of Abortion and the Doctrine of the Double Effect,” raises many points about how we synthesize moral rights and wrongs. Foot discusses the Doctrine of Double effect. It is best to explain this doctrine through example. A doctor is charged with the care of a very ill patient who is in a monstrous amount of pain. This doctor gives the patient an absurd amount of morphine to end her life. This is morally impermissible because the doctor directly intended to bring about her death. However, if the doctor gave the patient the same measure of morphine with the sole intent of easing her pain and merely predicted it might end her life a tad early, then the physician would be acting within the realm of moral permissibility. Basically, the Doctrine of Double Effect (DDE) is the idea that one’s intentions and the predictableness behind the same action dictate its moral permissibility. Through the discussion of DDE, however, the abortion problem came no closer to being solved.
I believe that the intentions behind an action do not play a part in the morality of the action. Let us explore an example. There are two countries at war- country X and country Z. X decides that the best route towards ending the war in victory is to bomb Z’s military headquarters. These headquarters are sprawling and play a large part in the community; refugees, orphans, and cute fluffy animals live here because the military takes them in and cares for them. Country X knows this, but bombs anyway. It was not their intent to kill, wound, and maim all those civilians, but they still did. I believe they are still morally responsible for any and all pain and suffering they have caused. Regardless of their intentions, the harm that was a direct result of their actions occurred.
For a less intense example, I am a storekeeper. There is a rowdy child who kept spilling all my lima beans onto the floor. He comes to the register to buy a candy. He hands me a 10 dollar bill to pay for his 75 cent gummy worms. I want to shortchange him because I know he can’t count. I do not, however, because I know his mother will yell at me tomorrow and her voice is really annoying. I give him $9.25. Regardless of why I did the right thing, I did.