The Principle of Double Effect

  • James Kellenberger
Part of the Palgrave Frontiers in Philosophy of Religion book series (PFPR)


This chapter is an evaluation of the principle of double effect. The principle of double effect is a principle congenial to the just war theory and is appealed to by just war theorists. It is a principle that under certain circumstances can relieve perpetrators of war actions that inflict suffering on innocents (or have other harmful or evil effects) from responsibility for those effects. The principle asserts that an action, such as a war action, done with an intention to bring about a good effect is permissible though it has other harmful effects, provided that those harmful effects are not intended, even if they are foreseen. This principle, it will be argued, is deeply flawed, and if accepted as valid in a wartime application, it can be used to justify virtually any horrendous war action.

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • James Kellenberger
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyCalifornia State UniversityNorthridgeUSA

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