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March 22, 1999

The Rule of Double Effect: Clearing Up the Double Talk

Arch Intern Med. 1999;159(6):545-550. doi:10.1001/archinte.159.6.545

RECENTLY, the rule of double effect, which has a long history in ethics, especially medical ethics, has come under serious criticism in the medical literature.1,2 Because of its immense practical importance in the care of dying patients, any attack on this rule must be taken seriously. In this article, therefore, we present a systematic rejoinder to what we take to be serious misunderstandings of the nature and use of this rule.

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