Business is not just war. Transferring the principle of double effect from war to business

  • G. J. Rossouw RAU University Johannesburg South Africa


In this article the validity of transferring the Principle of Double Effect from the just war tradition to the domain of business is critically reviewed. If a case can be built for sufficient analogies between war and business, the principle of double effect can legitimately be transferred from war to business. If, on the other hand it can be shown that there are aspects in which business differs substantially from just war, then the transfer to business of a principle developed within the context of war becomes more problematic. After exploring the nature of arguments of analogy and fallacious arguments of weak analogy some important disanalogies between war and business are highlighted. Given these disanalogies it is then contended that the just war background of the Principle of Double Effect had some bearing on both the content and manner of application of the Principle of Double Effect. Finally it is argued that these disanalogies require some revisions to the Principle of Double Effect with regard to both its content and its manner of application before it can be applied meaningfully to foreseeable negative side-effects of business. S. Afr. J. Philos. Vol.22(3) 2003: 236–246

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eISSN: 0258-0136