This may take back the central part of my argument about tautologously equivalent intentions.
Suppose that Sally is a crime boss who really hates Fred and really likes fresh salmon. So she tells a henchman: "I need some sparkle in my day. I need you today to either kill Fred or find me some fresh salmon." Sally's intention is that
- Fred is killed or Sally[note 1] gets fresh salmon.
But actually (1) is not a wicked intention as such for Sally to have. Let's say I am the henchman. But yesterday I repented of my sins and confessed them all, and then I went to the FBI. The FBI asked me to remain in Sally's service for a few more days while they gather more evidence. So there I am: Sally wants me to kill Fred or find her some fresh salmon. I go and find her some fresh salmon. Why? In order to fulfill her order by killing Fred or getting her some fresh salmon. In other words, I am finding her some fresh salmon as a means to (1), which in turn is a means to having Sally be satisfied with me for a couple more days. My intention is morally upright.
There is nothing wrong, then, with acting to make true a disjunction that has an evil disjunct as long as I do so by means of making true a non-evil disjunct. There is something wrong with acting to make true a disjunction that has an evil disjunct indifferently between the disjuncts, as Sally does or as a henchperson passing Sally's unchanged order to a lower-down henchperson would be doing.
Notice a crucial difference between my and Sally's action plan. If I were to kill Fred, that would not fulfill my action plan. For my plan was to make the disjunction true by making the salmon disjunct true. But it would fulfill Sally's action plan.
Here is a tough question: What intention does Sally have that makes her action wicked and mine upright? Of course Sally has a desire that Fred die, and that makes her, we may suppose, a wicked person. But that does not make her action wicked. Sally wants to please herself. I want to please Sally. So far our intentions are the same. Sally wants to please herself by making (1) true. I want to please Sally by making (1) true. Our intentions are still the same. I have an additional intention: to make the salmon disjunct true. Sally doesn't care how (1) is made true. But that's a matter of her lacking an intention. Is that what makes her action wicked?
If so, then this would be an interesting example of a thought I've explored in other contexts, that certain actions are only permitted with certain intentions. For instance it is only permitted to participate in some of the sacraments if one has an appropriate intention. Or perhaps it is only permitted for spouses to make love with the intention of uniting or the intention of reproducing. Or maybe it is only permissible to assert with the intention of avoiding asserting a falsehood. To these kinds of cases (which are controversial, of course) one would add: one is only permitted to intend a disjunction with an evil disjunct if one additionally intends a non-evil disjunct (or intends that a non-evil disjunct be true or something else of like nature).
In "The Accomplishment of Plans", I've suggested that it's wrong to act in such a way that an evil might be accomplished by one. (Not everything one causes is accomplished. Paradigmatic cases of unintended side-effects are caused but not accomplished.) This would also explain the difference between Sally and me. Sally's plan is such that she might end up accomplishing Fred's death through it. But my plan is not like that. While I might accidentally kill Fred while driving to the airport in order to fly to a place where they have fresh salmon, Fred's death wouldn't be an accomplishment of mine.