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Virtues and Vicesand other essays in moral philosophy$
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Philippa Foot

Print publication date: 2002

Print ISBN-13: 9780199252862

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2003

DOI: 10.1093/0199252866.001.0001

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

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

Chapter:
(p.19) II The Problem of Abortion and the Doctrine of the Double Effect*
Source:
Virtues and Vices
Author(s):

Philippa Foot

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/0199252866.003.0002

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

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