The Loop Case and Kamm’s Doctrine of Triple Effect
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Judith Jarvis Thomson’s Loop Case is particularly significant in normative ethics because it questions the validity of the intuitively plausible Doctrine of Double Effect, according to which there is a significant difference between harm that is intended and harm that is merely foreseen and not intended. Recently, Frances Kamm has argued that what she calls the Doctrine of Triple Effect (DTE), which draws a distinction between acting because-of and acting in-order-to, can account for our judgment about the Loop Case. In this paper, I first argue that even if the distinction drawn by DTE can be sustained, it does not seem to apply to the Loop Case. Moreover, I question whether this distinction has any normative significance. The upshot is that I am skeptical that DTE can explain our judgment about the Loop Case.
KeywordsDoctrine of Double Effect Doctrine of Triple Effect The Loop Case Trolley cases Frances Kamm’s ethics Intuitions
I would like to thank David Wasserman, Mike Otsuka, Wibke Gruetjen, and an anonymous reviewer at Philosophical Studies for their very helpful comments on earlier versions of this paper. Thanks are also due to participants of the Kamm Reading Group at http://www.ethics-etc.com for very fruitful discussions regarding this topic.