SOPhiA 2022

Salzburgiense Concilium Omnibus Philosophis Analyticis

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Programme - Talk

Intention, Closeness, and Double Effect
(Ethics, English)

We seem to intuitively grasp the difference between the things we intend to do and the merely foreseen consequences - or side-effects - of our conduct. The Doctrine of Double Effect (DDE) picks up on this distinction and adds to it a normative dimension, stating that it is all things considered easier to justify foreseen harm than intended harm. It will differentiate the Strategic Bomber__who, to bring an end to the war, bombs an ammunition factory, knowing that it will kill nearby civilians__from the Terror Bomber, who bombs an ammunition factory to kill civilians in order to terrorize the enemy into surrendering the war (Bratman, 1987, pp. 139-140).

Yet we seem to be able to circumvent the DDE by stipulating an agent with very fine-grained intentions. Consider Bennett_s Bomber, who bombs the factory with the intention of making nearby civilian bodies "merely seem_ing_ dead for a year or two" without requiring that "the people become downright dead," (Bennett, 1995, pp. 210__211). As regards justifiability, Bennet_s Bomber and Strategic Bomber seem to stand on equal footing. It is this repugnancy which motivates the Closeness Problem: what, if any, are the conditions under which an agent who acts with an intention to bring about X also intends to bring about Y? How close do X and Y need to be, and what constitutes this relation of "closeness"?

Although much ink has been spilled on the matter (see, e.g., Duff, 1980; Quinn, 1989; Moore, 1993, 2020; Simester, 1996; Fitzpatrick, 2006; Yaffe, 2011; Nelkin & Rickless, 2014, 2015; Sarch, 2017), the Closeness Problem is still far from resolved. In my paper, I want to assess the upshots of this debate for the criminal law. I will argue that a dissolution of the Closeness Problem requires a general account as to the representational content of an agent's intentions, and that the criminal law, too, is in dire need of such an account. I will then propose one such account and explicate what it would look like in a legal court.

Chair: Stephen Müller
Time: 14:40-15:10, 07 September 2022 (Wednesday)
Location: SR 1.005

Levin Güver 
(University of Zurich, Switzerland)

Testability and Meaning deco