The Doctrine of Double Effect as an Ineffective Tool in War Theory
Hoyt, Alison S.
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Many proponents of the Doctrine of Double Effect (DDE) assert that its principles are applicable in the area of military operations. One way in which is evidenced is the ever present discussion of the tactical bomber versus the strategic bomber as an example of DDE's application, used by most DDE scholars to illustrate the difference between permissible and impermissible action under DDE's tenents. The goal of this paper is not to agree or disagree with DDE as a moral theory, but to propose that DDE is an unnecessary and ineffective tool in determing the propriety of military actions. The foundation of this argument is the notion that DDE should be thought of as a "second-level" theory that serves only to guide the formulation of "first-level" norms of behavior. After that, DDE is largely a useless resource in determining the permissibility of an agent's action due to its potential applicability in only a handful of very specific, unrealistic circumstances.
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