'We don't torture': Moral resolve and the doctrine of double effect

Wed 3 Jun 2015, 19:00 - 20:15

The British Academy, 10-11 Carlton House Terrace, London SW1Y 5AH

'We don’t torture' announced both Bush and Obama. But what Bush meant as a statement of fact, Obama meant as a resolution. Exploring this example, this lecture examined how moral resolutions work to overcome the rationalizations that temptation engenders. This in turn shone light on the nature of our moral concepts. Resolutions are typically framed using intentional notions (torture; murder; theft). Reflection on the reasons for this reveals what is right, and what is wrong, about the doctrine of double effect.

Professor Richard Holton

Richard Holton
 was educated at Oxford and Princeton, and has taught in many places, most recently MIT and Cambridge. He is the author of Willing, Wanting Waiting (OUP 2009). His current work is mainly in philosophy of mind, moral psychology and the philosophy of law.

Chaired by: Professor Jane Heal FBA, University of Cambridge

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