Difference between revisions of "Consequentialism"

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'''Consequentialism''' is an array of ethical theories which hold that the goodness or rightness of an action is to be measured by the sum of all its outcomes. It is one of the two most major strands of contemporary ethics. The other, deontology, measures the morality of an action by its compliance to given rules and moral precepts, that must be followed above all else.
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'''Consequentialism''' is the ethical theory that people should choose the action that will result in the best outcome. How to judge outcomes is not specified, but there are many types of consequentialism that specify how outcomes should be judged. For example, [[utilitarianism]] holds that the best outcome is that which maximizes the total welfare of all people, and ethical egoism holds that the best outcome is that which maximizes their own personal interests. Consequentialism is one of three main strands of ethical thought, along with deontology, which holds that people should choose actions which conform to a prescribed list of moral rules, and virtue ethics, which holds that people should be judged by how virtuous they are, instead of by what actions they take.
  
The consequentialist analysis can take the form of a [[utility function]], where the [[expected utility]] of an action is determined by the sum of the [[utility]] of each of its possible consequences, individually weighted by their respective probability of occurrence. Therefore, the correct action is always the one which maximizes o total value of positive consequences, even if it violates some established moral rule. Consequentialism is based on a cost and benefits analysis and measure goodness by calculating the total expected good. In this manner, opposing to deontological theories, there is no action good in itself or bad in itself, they have to be judged by its results. Note, however, that consequentialism is not the same thing as having a utility function, since utility functions can also be used to implement moral theories similar to deontology.
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Consequentialism is often associated with maximizing the [[expected utility|expected value]] of a [[utility function]]. However, it has been argued that consequentialism is not the same thing as having a utility function because it is possible to evaluate actions based on their consequences without obeying the [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Von_Neumann%E2%80%93Morgenstern_utility_theorem von Neuman-Morgenstern axioms] necessary for having a utility function, and because utility functions can also be used to implement moral theories similar to deontology.
 
 
Which outcomes are to be considered good or bad is an open question to consequentialism. Hence, one can egoistically value his own well fare in detriment of others and still act according to a consequentialist ethics. [[Utilitarianism]] can be seen as instance of consequentialism where one must aim at maximizing the overall good, the happiness and welfare of himself and others.
 
 
 
One common tool for detecting a person way of thinking about morality is the use of moral dilemmas, in special the trolley’s problems. Those problems have generated a vast array of moral dilemmas of hard resolution and justification. They usually follow a general schema:  “Person A can take an action which will benefit a great number of people, but that also violates moral rule X or person’s B individual rights. What should person A do?” Taking the action reveals a consequentialist thinking, whereas holding to the moral rule reveals a deontological thinking.
 
  
 
==Blog posts==
 
==Blog posts==

Revision as of 08:15, 18 August 2013

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Consequentialism is the ethical theory that people should choose the action that will result in the best outcome. How to judge outcomes is not specified, but there are many types of consequentialism that specify how outcomes should be judged. For example, utilitarianism holds that the best outcome is that which maximizes the total welfare of all people, and ethical egoism holds that the best outcome is that which maximizes their own personal interests. Consequentialism is one of three main strands of ethical thought, along with deontology, which holds that people should choose actions which conform to a prescribed list of moral rules, and virtue ethics, which holds that people should be judged by how virtuous they are, instead of by what actions they take.

Consequentialism is often associated with maximizing the expected value of a utility function. However, it has been argued that consequentialism is not the same thing as having a utility function because it is possible to evaluate actions based on their consequences without obeying the von Neuman-Morgenstern axioms necessary for having a utility function, and because utility functions can also be used to implement moral theories similar to deontology.

Blog posts

External links

See also

References

  • Jeremy Bentham (1907). An Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislation. Library of Economics and Liberty. 
  • Perter Fishburn (1970). Utility Theory for Decision Making. Huntington, NY.