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Scanlon on Permissibility and Double Effect*

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In his book Moral Dimensions. Permissibility, Meaning, Blame, T.M. Scanlon proposes a new account of permissibility, and argues, against the doctrine of double effect (DDE), that intentions do not matter for permissibility. I argue that Scanlon's account of permissibility as based on what the agent should have known at the time of action does not sufficiently take into account Scanlon's own emphasis on permissibility as a question for the deliberating agent. A proper account of permissibility, based on the agent's actual beliefs, will allow us to revise the principle Scanlon proposes for regulating the use of violence in war, and to show that, while the DDE as such might be invalid, its focus on intentions does point toward an important element which Scanlon's proposal lacks, viz. the requirement that the agent believes that her actions will have certain consequences and can be justified for that reason.


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Affiliations: 1: The Ethics Programme, Department of Philosophy, Classics, History of Art and Ideas University of Oslo, P.O. box 1020 Blindern, N-0315 Oslo, Norway


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