Double-Effect and Positive Duties, Again
July 9, 2008 § 12 Comments
Suppose there was a group of anarchists, and we wanted to collaborate with the anarchists on something good.
Suppose though that in order to have ‘street cred’ with those anarchists it was necessary to refuse to pay our taxes and debts.
In this case, the proposal is made that we don’t pay our taxes or debts, and use that not-paying as a specific means to gaining street cred with the anarchists: that maybe they won’t even work with us at all unless we refuse to pay our taxes and debts.
Is this justifiable under double-effect? Absolutely not, because refusing to pay our taxes and debts is specifically a means to the end of getting the anarchists to collaborate with us. Deliberately shirking a specific, positive duty is what specifically causes the good effect we are seeking.
Similarly, Catholics have a grave positive duty to work against the legality of abortion: a positive duty every bit as real and required as paying taxes and debts. One may indeed in certain circumstances talk to and work with pro-choice persons and groups. I’ve never seen anyone assert the contrary. But one may not refuse the grave duty to conscientiously object to the legality of abortion, with that refusal as a means of making collaboration with pro-choicers work better (or work at all). Doing so fails double-effect, just as refusing to pay taxes and debts as a means to making collaboration with anarchists work better fails double-effect.