Garrett’s proportionality framework (1966)

Garrett’s proportionality framework (1966)

Garrett provides what is termed a ‘proportionality’ framework and is usefully compared with Ross’s prima facie duties framework.

His framework combines the utilitarian concern with outcomes (consequences) with the Kantian preoccupation with process (intentions and means).

For Garrett, ethical decisions comprise three components: intention, means and end.

The sequence in the decision-making model then becomes:

· Intention or that which is willed. What is the motivation behind a person’s actions? Are the intentions ethical?

· Means. What methods or processes are used to bring about certain ends? Are they ethical? An unforeseen harm, resulting from risk, is permissible because it is not willed (intended). A foreseen harm, however, is only permissible if there is a proportionate reason for taking the risk of the harm. For instance, it is permissible when the outcomes will be clearly of great good and the risks are minimal (the notion of restricted risk).

· End. Garrett’s view is that ends should be measured in terms of the intrinsic value (nature) foreseen of the acts rather than by the consequences produced by these acts. In other words, the end should not justify the means. Also, his notion of restricted responsibility should not be applied in the sense that anything is permissible if the ends justify the means.

For a fuller, formal analysis of the proportionality principle as enunciated by Garrett in 1966, see Garrett and Klonoski (1986).


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