By Richard A. McCormick
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Additional info for Ambiguity in Moral Choice
Van der Poel is, I believe, both right and wrong. First the good news. Obviously Page 32 as was pointed out above where Van der Marck is concernedif an action is reasonably foreseen or eventually known to be ultimately community-damaging, it is, regardless of its immediate meaning and rewards, immoral. The criterion is clearly correct in this rear-view-mirror sense. But now for the bad news. To propose as the only criterion of the morality of an act a measure so utterly ultimate is to suggest (at least) that more proximate criteria are useless or invalid.
Rather a reason is commensurate if the value realizable here and now by measures involving physical evil in a premoral sense is not in the long run undermined and contradicted by these measures but supported and maximized. "19 To the objection that this amounts to proposing that a good end justifies an evil means, Knauer would reply that a means can be judged to be evil only if it is caused without commensurate reason. One cannot, in other words, isolate certain physical evils and say of them that they are, in all circumstances, moral evils.
Indeed, it seems clear that anyone who does such disproportionate things does thereby something that is likely to be community-destroying. Philippa Foot approaches the double effect from a different perspective. 44 After admitting the legitimacy of the distinction between "direct intention" and "oblique (or indirect) intention," she claims that the distinction plays only a very subsidiary role in determining what is right in difficult conflict situations. Much more important is the distinction between avoiding injury and bringing aid, a negative duty and a positive duty.