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To do good, or not, that is the question.

by Tony M.

Do not do evil that good may come of it. That’s the principle that protects the correct way to make use of the principle of double effect, or PDE. Alongside of this principle is the moral analysis of cooperation with (moral) evil: that there are some modes of cooperating with evil that are always wrong, and others which are not. This latter moral analysis has been much on my mind recently. I know we have talked about it in various contexts here at W4, such in voting, abortion, and coalitions, but I don’t want to discuss it primarily with respect to abortion or any particular matter. Rather, my intent here is to peer quite steadfastly into the very essence of the distinctions that make up this analysis, and see if the guts of the theory can be laid bare in a sensible manner. And I am enlisting your help, because I am confident that a more complete picture of the truth will come out of a good discussion.

The first division is usually between formal and material cooperation with evil (again, moral evil: in the following discussion, it is to be postulated that the primary agent’s act is already understood to be morally evil). Some here don’t care much for the Aristotelian distinction of form and matter. That would make it harder to take this analysis seriously, but in in this context I believe that the words are used analogously. In natural beings, like humans and trees, the words form and matter have their proper and primary meaning. As used with respect to actions, and the character of those actions, I think we use form and matter in a derivative or extended sense. It would probably be even more so in using "formal" to describe an aspect of cooperation, which is itself an aspect of action but is not the same thing as the action.

If you go around the web looking at definitions of formal cooperation, you see often statements like this: you share in the [primary] agent’s intention, either for its own sake or as a means to some other goal. Thus the character of the act in the agent (which is presupposed as evil) carries directly into characterizing the cooperator’s act. Hence, if you formally cooperate with the primary agent so that his intended result makes possible your intended (good) result, you are doing evil that good may come of it. It is recognized that if achieving your (the cooperator’s) intention requires, as a necessary condition, that the primary actor’s evil act be successful in achieving its object, (or, at least that his action must be undertaken) then the cooperator does in fact will the very act that the primary actor does, and this vitiates the cooperator.

Formal cooperation can be divided into explicit and implicit: It is implicit if, in spite of any words to the contrary, the willed action of the cooperator is such as to be “explainable in no other terms” than that he intends the evil action of the primary actor. (Normally a person can only pretend to himself that he is not formally cooperating with the primary agent’s evil act if his cooperation is implicit – explicit formal cooperation means that you as cooperator with awareness intend the primary agent’s intention.) Both forms of formal cooperation with evil bear the same character – moral evil – as the primary action.

Material cooperation is when your action does not participate alongside the primary by reason of an agreement of intention, but still participates in some fashion. Typically, the “material” of the cooperative act is a physical action you perform that runs, either before, during, or after the primary act, that in some way hinges on the primary act. Material cooperation is divided into immediate and mediate material cooperation. A simple application of the meaning of mediation would lead one to think that immediate material cooperation (IMC) is when the cooperator’s action has no intermediate aspects separating his action from the primary actor. However, there are numerous references that cite IMC as being an action that is necessary in order for the primary action to take place. Other authors present the matter differently: that IMC is when the cooperator’s action has the same object as the primary act. Mediate material cooperation (MMC) then would be material cooperation in which the cooperator has a distinct object of the act than that of the primary actor. Mediate is then further divided into proximate and remote cooperation: these are inherently a matter of degree, with proximate meaning near, with few intervening layers, and remote meaning many layers or much distance (or time).

Although the references out there for describing IMC as being necessary to the primary action noticeably outnumber the references to IMC as having the same object, I don’t lean toward this “necessary” position. Philosophically, it has not much to recommend itself, the idea of representing the notion of “necessary” by using the term “immediate”. The underlying concepts simply are not congruent, nor even co-extensive, and we should not expect them to work out equivalently. The power company’s providing power to the abortionist is necessary in order for the abortionist to run his suction, but that doesn’t mean the power company’s choice to provide power to the abortionist is immediate cooperation. If an abortionist’s nurse is standing by with a pad to wipe his brow, that action is not “necessary” to the abortion, but it is certainly an instance of immediate material cooperation (without even examining her intentions, that is).

Therefore, I fall more strongly toward understanding IMC as the cooperator having the same object of the act as the primary actor has for his act. However, I am doubtful that this really explains the issue very well. The “object of the act” is an expression of great confusion, and it invariably leads to disagreement even among people of good will and fair to good education. Aristotelian methodology leads one to say that a comprehensive account (definition) of a thing provides the nature of it, as well as the agent and the end, and by “nature” we mean the form and matter of the thing. In terms of actions, “object of the act” , as humanly chosen, is the form, I believe. When we describe an act in terms of just the physical event, we give the act in one aspect only: the matter. But a human act has a form as well as the matter (using the terms analogously), so that two physical acts that are identical physically are humanly distinct because of the object: a man and woman sleeping together before their marriage, and after their marriage, constitute totally different species of act, and it is the object that distinguishes them. In the second, the object is “make love to my spouse,” while the former is “make love to my lover to whom I am not married” which is not the same species of act. (St. Thomas points out that for a drunk man to have, as the object of the act, “to make love to this woman before me who is available” partakes of the evil of fornication EVEN IF the woman happens to be his wife, because his will disregards the state of the woman as “married to me” and only regards her as “available woman.”)

Yet there is a problem with this approach: the cooperator’s action may have as its object something that is part of the object of the primary actor, but not the entire object. If there is not a complete identity, is there an instance of IMC? The object of the nurse’s action (in the above example) is relieving the doctor of an irritation, not removing a baby from a uterus. Admittedly, the irritation is an irritation in the midst of the doctor’s going about removing the baby, but the precise object of the nurse’s action is not the baby. Properly, then, the nurse’s object in wiping his brow is not identical to the doctor’s.

Yet another explanation I saw for IMC, not quite the same as the “same object”, is this: IMC is the performance of a morally good or indifferent action which is inherently and intimately bound to the performance of an evil action on the part of the principal agent, in such a way that the evil action of the principal agent stands as a defining or morally significant circumstance of the cooperator's action which corrupts its moral species so that it is rendered morally impermissible. Well, yeah, but what the heck does that mean? I think that it is obvious that if the doctor is doing something evil in performing an abortion, then the nurse is wrong in wiping his brow because nurse’s action is morally accounted for only in terms of making the doctor more readily able to complete his evil action: the adherence of her moral action to his is found in making his action more readily achieved.

Many authors state that IMC is morally identical to implicit formal cooperation. If formal cooperation regards the same intention and IMC regards either the same object, or so the primary action stands as a defining or morally significant circumstance, it might seem doubtful that IMC must essentially be equivalent to implicit formal cooperation. Is there any philosophical reason why the intention must be the same if the objects are the same? Why cannot the cooperator intend something altogether other in cooperating? The trouble, I think, is that while it is indeed possible for the cooperator to have a distinct intention, he would hold that intention alongside of holding implicitly the intention of the primary actor. If the nurse’s primary intention in cooperating with the abortionist is, say, to simply make more money, she would be holding the intention of making money WHILE she implicitly holds the intention of helping to make the doctor’s operation successful, because that is what goes hand in hand with keeping her job and making money. So, implicit in her intention is the participating intention of his getting his job done – aborting the baby. (Either that, or the doctor is being stupid in paying her for something that doesn’t further his job, or she is being fraudulent in performing her job (which he hired her for to support his job) in such a way that it fails to render support for him.) She cannot really intend to earn money by working for him, unless she is implicitly intending to support his work.

I intend to take up the matter of MEDIATE material cooperation in another thread, so please don’t get too heavy into that arena here. Other than that, get out your hammer and tongs, and we’ll go at it.

Comments (19)

If we put this in super-simple terms, which I find helpful, can we say this?

IMC is helping someone in the performance of an intrinsically evil action and doing so in such a way that you cannot avoid knowing that you're helping him and that no ordinary person would ever be able to do that act in those circumstances without knowing that he was helping the person performing the evil action.

The definition of "helping," I think, can encompass actions that are not strictly necessary to the evil act but that are part of the overall set-up that keeps the operation running, like wiping the abortionist's brow.

By the way, as far as the content of this particular post is concerned, it doesn't seem so far to have anything to do with doing good. At least not in any convincing sense. I find it difficult to imagine any situation that would meet any reasonable definition of IMC in which I would feel at all moved by the person's claim that he was trying to do good. If a nurse works for an abortionist and tells me she witnesses to her fellow workers on her lunch break or that she hopes to be such a sweet person that they convert or that she occasionally calls their attention to the humanity of the unborn child and hopes this will influence them, that she prays with the women after their abortions and comforts them, etc., I'm going to be distinctly unimpressed by this attempt to "do good."

This, by the way, seems to me connected with the situation of doctors who work for torturers. They are, say, called in to revive the victim or to put him back together so that he can be tortured again and so forth. It's helping the torturers even if the work actually done is not itself evil. It's "part of the set-up." The torturers need the doctor or at least find him quite useful for their dirty work. That's why they bring him in. (See my example in the thread below on foreign aid workers brought in by sex slavers to treat the slaves for STD's, promising not to help them escape. The slavers find it useful to have healthy slaves, so they use the aid workers to keep their operation going in this way.)

By the way, as far as the content of this particular post is concerned, it doesn't seem so far to have anything to do with doing good.

Yes, well, when you perform an action of cooperation with evil that is not formal cooperation nor IMC and has a good proportionate to the evil result you cooperate with, then you may do good. I'll get there with the 2nd part.

you cannot avoid knowing that you're helping him

I agree that IMC does involve this, but I am not sure that this approach really takes care of the issue. "Helping" isn't really any more specific than "cooperation", is it? If the whole matter was solved simply by saying "don't help evil" then we wouldn't still have this quandary. The difficulty is that sometimes what I do "helps" the evil-doer incidentally, or aside from what I want out of the situation, and we have to know how to take account of that kind of "help" as well. Some kinds of "helping" are not morally accounted as evil on account of that help.

Also, while the degree of guilt will certainly hang on how much you know, or ought to know, about your act helping the evil actor, I am cautious about suggesting that the critical distinction of whether your own act in cooperation is moral or not hangs on knowledge so much as on how you will to act. If you give a kidnapper his asked for ransom price, you know that the ransom money will help him stay out of hands of the police, but nothing about giving him the money is, in your will, coordinate with his object or intention.

IMC is helping someone in the performance of an intrinsically evil action

You raise an important point that I had not really tackled before: if the action of the primary agent is evil, but is not intrinsically evil, does the whole issue go away? Is it only a moral challenge when the evil act is certainly evil because it is intrinsically evil? If you have no doubt whatsoever that his act is evil in these circumstances, then it seems to me that you have to avoid cooperating with it just as much as if it were evil because it is intrinsically evil. It is just that so many acts that are evil by reason of circumstances are evil only within a concrete application of prudential judgment, and it seems that we are rarely called on to determine whether someone else's prudential judgment is, simply, morally in the wrong. But is this appearance misleading? If your boss, an attorney, is going around bilking old folks of nickels and dimes for financial "planning" that they don't need, he is not doing something intrinsically wrong in offering them (and painting strongly) a service that a few of them really do need, and some of them can use a little bit. But he is still using them, and you should not be helping him.

Also, while the degree of guilt will certainly hang on how much you know, or ought to know, about your act helping the evil actor, I am cautious about suggesting that the critical distinction of whether your own act in cooperation is moral or not hangs on knowledge so much as on how you will to act.

Knowledge has got to be important, because if you don't know what's going on, then you can't be blamed. My attempt in saying that you "cannot avoid knowing" was to parse out the term "immediate." The power company just sends power to a whole bloc of businesses. I just purchase food from a particular store. What the store owner does with my money isn't particularly my business. I'm not responsible to find it out and worry about it. This is why not participating in a boycott of some giant company can't, it seems to me, be immediate participation in whatever evil they are up to with their sponsorship or whatever. It's not the kind of thing that my very purchase of the can of coke automatically involves my knowing. But the nurse can't be working for the abortionist and wiping his brow (or bringing him instruments!) without knowing the nature of the business in which she is participating. Hence, "immediate" cooperation.

This is also related to intent, because it becomes disingenuous for you to say that it wasn't your "intent" to help him in the performance of evil if the very nature of your involvement is such that you cannot avoid knowing what you are assisting in--e.g., your involvement requires you to be in the room or to drive the girl to the abortion clinic or to patch up the tortured prisoners again and again, etc.

The intrinsic evil question may, interestingly, also be tied up with knowledge. If you are just a clerk in the law office, it may very well take a while for you to figure out that the boss is overselling the product. Your involvement may not be such that you "cannot avoid knowing" that he's overselling, and this is in part at least because whether the old people need his services is a prudential matter on which you know that you often aren't privy to all the relevant data. If it were an intrinsically wrong act, you'd be more likely to know that it was wrong.

Oh, I had meant to say before that acting under duress is here, as often (always?), mitigating. I'm not convinced that giving the kidnaper money actually helps him if done right, and it's usually a really dumb thing to do it untraceably and doesn't make your loved one safer. It would be better to involve the police and find a way to appear to give him his money while making the ransom traceable. Be that as it may, if you really get yourself convinced that you have to give him the money and that this will help him, you are certainly acting under duress, which has got to make a difference to our moral evaluation.

Similarly for POWs forced to work in munitions factories, etc.

Perhaps a better way to think of things is in degreees of separation from the evil. The doctor who aborts does evil; the person who sells him the scapel has one degree of separation from the evil and may or may not be guilty depending upon whether or not he knows the scapel will be as opposed to might be used for abortion; the person who makes the scapel has two degrees of separation from the evil and is unlikely to be commiting evil as a scapel can be used for many things; the person who bills for the scalpel is at the third degree of separation and is not, ordinarily liable for sin; the man who makes the record-keeping book for the accountant is, perhaps seven or eight degress of separation from the evil.

This is no theoretical exercise for me. When I was unemployed some years ago, I took a job with a temp agency and they sent me to do data entry for an insurance company that paid for abortions. I promptly call the temp agency and told them I had to quit the job even though I was without any money. I explained why. They let me quit and gave me a new assignment. i asked my spiritual director about it and he explained that the bishops had determined that I was far enough form the evil to no contract sin, but quitting was a good witness.

Does this get into mediate material xooperation?

The Chicken

Yes, MC, that definitely gets into mediate material cooperation. Once you start talking about degrees of separation, you are not in immediate contact with the evil act.

Lydia, duress does raise a complexity. I had thought that the way to understand duress is that when you act to do an evil under duress, the at that you do is still evil, but your guilt is reduced. Let's assume that instead of asking for money, you are a newspaper editor and the kidnapper tells you to print a libelous (but believable) story about the mayor. Printing lies is wrong. The duress lessens your guilt, but it doesn't change the character underlying, it is still an evil act.

But in my example, paying money to the kidnapper, I think we say that paying the money is neutral, neither good nor bad, considered of itself. As cooperation with the kidnapper, it is (I agree) almost always not such a good idea in prudence, but in some circumstance it might conceivably fit with prudence, or at least a person might think so without being an idiot. If, in one case, you have in fact convinced yourself that giving the money will actually work and get the victim free, giving the money is indeed a form of cooperation, but is not cooperation that involves aligning your will with his in any way, is it? You are the victim, the end recipient of the kidnapper's criminal leverage, the criminal isn't using you (or your money) in order to complete some OTHER evil act (so far as you know, anyway). It isn't an immoral "cooperation with evil" to be the victim of an evil act, any more than paying $15 for a bottle of water to a price-gouger after a disaster when you have nothing to drink would be "cooperating" with him morally speaking.

I agree that knowledge is a necessary ingredient: a moral human act is an act that proceeds in the will acting on what is known. If some condition is hidden or misunderstood, that changes the character of the act.

Hmm. I see, Tony, that you're taking the "money to the kidnaper" as being akin to giving your wallet to the hold-up man. Whereas I'm thinking of "money to the kidnaper" as being more like being part of the funding stream for an on-going operation. Not sure whether I'm right or you're right. One distinction is that the hold-up man really is going to shoot you _right now_ if you don't give him your wallet, whereas you have time to think and try to find some way around really just sending the kidnapers off with a case full of money to continue their nefarious deeds. Perhaps another difference is that it's usually a _lot more_ money. But beyond that, I usually think of kidnap scenarios in which you pay the ransom money as involving some attempt to "keep the police out of it," in other words, actively to cooperate with the kidnaper in thwarting the course of justice, whereas in the case of the hold-up, you give up your wallet but then as soon as possible make a report and try to get the bad guy caught.

But I agree that it's not an obvious distinction.

I think we would agree, though, that absent duress there is _no_ sense in which the nurse can be regarded as the "victim" of the abortionist, and ditto for some of the other examples I gave. Duress must be involved somehow even in defining who is and who is not a victim of the evildoer.

Yes, I agree with that.

Okay, then, just add to my definition of IMC above "when you are not the victim of the evildoer's extortion for the act which is useful to him," and all examples about kidnapers are gone.

I tend to think that if there really is some sort of immediate connection between your act and an intrinsically evil act, so immediate a connection that in the very nature of the case you can't not know that you are assisting an intrinsically evil act, and if you cannot be regarded as the victim of the act, you shouldn't render that assistance.

There are three things that are needed for an act to be subjectively sinful: knowledge, consent, and grave matter. Grave matter is assumed in Tony's scenarios. The different degrees of knowledge and consent make the difference between subjective sin or innocence in operating with evil. A hypnotized person is subjectively innocent even if he is forced to cooperate in a murder. The murder is objectively evil, but there is no IMC in the act in an imputably sinful level. Duress lessens the consent and, hence the IMC, as well, but does not excuse it completely. Lack of knowledge of the person's real intent may also excuse. Handing a surgeon a scapel believing him to be intending to use it to operate only to have him stab the patient does not make the nurse a cooperator.

The Chicken

I would expect that those who would defend IMC would try to block sin at the point of "consent." That is, just as I don't "consent" to everything the grocery store owner does with my money, etc....

But my impression is that that's where the term "immediate" comes in. If the nurse knows the doctor is performing an abortion, she cannot _fail_ to be consenting if she is the nurse for the surgery and hands him the curette. That's part of what I'm trying to get at with the "can't not know" phrase.

This topic is an useful addition to Paul's post below on coalitions and would seem to me to be the prime consideration on joining a coalition.

This piece has been a topic of interest (Sullivan groups a number of related links):


It would seem to me that the first question is if my issue is so important that it justifies joining with those who seek to establish a single party state? Is helping to send ones country down the path of Greece-Argentina-Brazil-Chile an intrinsically evil act?

MC, the matter of cooperation (or not) cuts skew-wise across whether the act is venially or mortally evil: to knowingly and consensually cooperate formally in a venial sin is a venial sin, and thus is morally forbidden because all sin is forbidden. The mode and degree of CONSENT does pertain to the cooperativeness of the secondary actor, because it is necessary for the secondary actor to at the least (a) intend some other intention than the primary actor intends, and (b) to intend an object that does not causally depend on the object of the primary actor. These conditions cannot obtain in some situations, namely, when the cooperative act is immediately connected to the primary act by way of intention or object, or when the primary act is an inherent condition formulating the very nature of the cooperative act. Which, I think, is what Lydia is saying: the nurse cannot fail to be consenting to being in support of the abortion. Both her knowledge of the activity of the doctor, and the nature of her own action, mandate this. The nature of her act just is to assist an abortion, regardless of why she wills to assist in it.

I tend to think that if there really is some sort of immediate connection between your act and an intrinsically evil act, so immediate a connection that in the very nature of the case you can't not know that you are assisting an intrinsically evil act,

Lydia, I think your conclusion is correct, but I would get there by a different path. In some cases, the act you do somehow runs with the primary act, and may render it either easier, more possible, more certain, more complete, more "fitting" (if fitting can be said of an evil act), etc, without your action being so tied to it that you are morally guilty by reason of that "improvement" in his act. EG: You are a judge, and you have to try a case that an evil, pro-choice prosecutor brings principally in order to do some grandstanding because he wants to run for office (the defendant really is guilty, but were it not for political ambition the prosecutor would never have bothered to use the resources on this trial.) As a judge, you go ahead and hear the case, even though you know that the process will help the prosecutor. Your actions are for the purpose of supporting the rule of law and justice, not to further his politics, but you know it will have that effect. You can ever so slightly minimize how much traction he gets out of this case by underplaying the dramatics, but you cannot prevent the basic result that he will get lots of profit out of the trial. Your going ahead with the trial is a form of cooperation with him, but not a form that makes you a voluntary agent in his improving his political career. Your moral connection to his political improvement is indirect, and this indirection is what creates the space for your action to be moral.

However, it is not on account of your knowledge of his actions being an imperfect knowledge, in any sense. Your knowledge is SUFFICIENT to be the ground for a thoroughly evil act of formal cooperation on your part, were you to nudge the trial in any way toward his political ambition, or even to simply judge it the same way outwardly but with interior favor to his political cause. So, the difference between your choice to sit for the trial being morally independent from his or accounted in the same category as his action (because tied morally to his), is in how you will it, and this pertains to your object: justice, rather than political advantage. In situations of immediate material cooperation, the moral knowledge of what you are doing rests in the knowledge of the conditions of your act (the conditions that determine the act's goodness or lack thereof), and one of those conditions is that the primary actor's action constitutes an essential framework for your action. For the judge, the attorney's political desire has nothing to do with your object to hear the case fairly and achieve a just verdict.

The judge is not doing an evil act wherein his guilt is greatly reduced, that's not it at all. We say that the judge's act is good even though we know that it falls in with the attorney's pro-choice agenda.

There are nine ways to be an accomplice to sin: command, counsel, consent, praise and flattery, provocation, partaking, concealment, silence, defense of the evil. The nurse wiping the doctor's brow implicitly consents to the evil and is guilty, herself. The judge is using Double Effect.

Partaking implies knowledge and consent implies the will. Immediate material cooperation involves a knowing and willful engagement in one of the nine ways to be an accomplice to sin. Short of that, there is no cooperation. Also, immediate does not have to mean at the same time as the sin. The founder of a company might leave a billion dollars in a fund for population control. He does not do the abortions, but he is an immediate material cooperator, as he meets the requirements of both a shared end and is an enabler of the action.

The Chicken

Also, immediate does not have to mean at the same time as the sin.

Agreed, absolutely. I think that the "immediate" refers more to causal connections, not to temporal aspects.

Short of that, there is no cooperation.

No, that's not it. In the next thread I will get into this, but quickly: remote material cooperation IS CALLED COOPERATION, (correctly), but is not immoral if you have proportionate reason. The fact that what you do falls in with what he does is not a deciding factor as to whether there was sin. Alternatively, the very same remote material cooperation for which you DON'T have proportionate reason IS a sin. Your outward, physical action is the same act. The aspect of your having been of use to the primary actor is the same aspect. But in the second one, your failure to have a proportionate reason to engage in the act means you commit a sin.

The judge is using Double Effect.

Right, one of the necessary criteria for morally entering into remote material cooperation with evil is that you, separately, have proportionate reason, and then it does become an instance of Double Effect. The cooperation with evil is justified.

It would seem to me that the first question is if my issue is so important that it justifies joining with those who seek to establish a single party state? Is helping to send ones country down the path of Greece-Argentina-Brazil-Chile an intrinsically evil act?

Al, while I have deplored some of the more extreme actions taken in the Congress that undermines collegiality, (actions taken on both sides), I would hesitate to say that the mere fact of having a one-party state is intrinsically evil. I don't think it is. Having the explicit intention of moving a viable, stable multi-party state into a one-party state would seem to come close to treason in some sense, but not in an explicit sense, only in a derivative sense I think.

By the way, The recent Republican grandstand about the debt ceiling was one of those deplorable situations I was referring to: the debt ceiling is just an artificial mechanism touching upon the root problems, and it is a tool too weak to carry the burden Republicans tried to thrust upon it. But it is also true that the Democrats got their hands good and dirty helping the Republicans along in creating a deeply incoherent Senate, including their refusal to seat perfectly reasonable judicial nominations from GOP presidents.

Given the nature of representative democracy and all, I feel that it is a fundamentally dishonorable and basically anti-common-good ploy to actively work against achieving a consensus on an issue merely to make sure the other party looks bad, for example. Given that, it would almost seem to fall out that people have a positive obligation to seek some coalition-building, or at least permit fellow-travelers walking alongside peacefully.

No, that's not it. In the next thread I will get into this, but quickly: remote material cooperation IS CALLED COOPERATION, (correctly), but is not immoral if you have proportionate reason.

It is not a matter of proportionality, only. Sometime, there can be a matter of ontology. A nurse giving a scapel to a surgeon who, then stabs the patient to death is not Double Effect, because with Double Effect, there has to be foreknowledge of the likely secondary effect. In this case, the nurse knew nothing. Giving the knife to the doctor implied a different ontology for the knife than his using it to kill someone.

The Chicken

I think the judge could very easily try the case with no notion of the prosecutor's political ambitions. That's where my idea of tying this to knowledge is perhaps awkward but I think also in its own way useful. The fact that what the judge is doing--trying a person who has plausibly committed a crime and needs to be tried--is a good thing in itself is tied to the fact that the judge would have to have some totally separate knowledge of the interior state of the prosecutor, the surrounding political situation, etc., even in order to know that the prosecutor is using this for political ambition.

Thus, even if the judge _does_ happen to have that additional knowledge, he isn't engaging in IMC, because the set-up is not such that, in the nature of the act of trying the case, he _can't not know_. And this is true precisely because the trying of the case is a thing in itself, and a good thing in itself, that is separate from any political ambitions it might further. Hence, the judge is doing nothing wrong by trying it.

One would be "immediately cooperating" with the prosecutor's political ambitions if one put up signs by the roadside for his reelection.

Sometime, there can be a matter of ontology. A nurse giving a scapel to a surgeon who, then stabs the patient to death is not Double Effect, because with Double Effect, there has to be foreknowledge of the likely secondary effect. In this case, the nurse knew nothing. Giving the knife to the doctor implied a different ontology for the knife than his using it to kill someone.

Absolutely correct. The act that the nurse engaged in, then, the act which she consented to, had nothing to do with the doctor's murder, because the planned murder was completely outside her knowledge. You're right, this is not a "cooperation" event at all. And there is no reason to resort to Double Effect to justify her action, she wasn't aware of the evil effect that needed to be justified.

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