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 its outcomes. One can identify two current prominent strands on contemporary ethics: consequentialism and deontologicalism. The consequentialist ethics define the morality or goodness of an action based solely upon its outcomes; the moral standards are seen as means to the desired consequences. The deontological perspective measure the morality of an action by how much it complies 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 their actions based on the outcomes they expect will result. 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.
 
 
 
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.
 
 
 
==Recommended reading==
 
*[http://plato.stanford.edu/archives/win2011/entries/consequentialism/  Consequentialism entry on Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy]
 
*[http://people.howstuffworks.com/trolley-problem.htm Description and discussion about trolley problems]
 
 
 
==Blog Posts==
 
 
 
==References==
 
*{{cite book
 
|author= Jeremy Bentham 
 
|year=1907
 
|title= An Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislation
 
|publisher= Library of Economics and Liberty }}
 
*{{cite book
 
|author= Perter Fishburn 
 
|year=1970
 
|title= Utility Theory for Decision Making
 
|publisher= Huntington, NY }}
 
 
 
*{{Cite journal
 
|title= Consequentialism
 
|author= Walter Sinnot-Armstrong
 
|journal= The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Winter 2011 Edition)
 
|date=2011
 
|url= http://plato.stanford.edu/archives/win2011/entries/consequentialism/
 
}}
 
*{{Cite journal
 
|title= Killing, Letting Die, and the Trolley Problem
 
|author= Judith Jarvis Thonson
 
|journal= The Monist
 
|volume=59
 
|page=204-217
 
|date=1975
 
}}
 
  
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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.
  
 
==Blog posts==
 
==Blog posts==
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*[http://lesswrong.com/lw/778/consequentialism_need_not_be_nearsighted/ Consequentialism Need Not Be Shortsighted] by [[orthonormal]]
 
*[http://lesswrong.com/lw/778/consequentialism_need_not_be_nearsighted/ Consequentialism Need Not Be Shortsighted] by [[orthonormal]]
  
==Recommended reading==
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==External links==
 
*[http://plato.stanford.edu/archives/win2011/entries/consequentialism/  Consequentialism entry on Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy]
 
*[http://plato.stanford.edu/archives/win2011/entries/consequentialism/  Consequentialism entry on Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy]
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*[http://www.raikoth.net/consequentialism.html Consequentialism FAQ] by [[Yvain]]
 
*[http://people.howstuffworks.com/trolley-problem.htm Description and discussion about trolley problems]
 
*[http://people.howstuffworks.com/trolley-problem.htm Description and discussion about trolley problems]
  
 
==See also==
 
==See also==
  
*[[Utilitarianism]], [[expected utility]]
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*[[Utilitarianism]]
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*[[Utility]], [[utility function]], [[expected utility]]
 
*[[Metaethics sequence]]
 
*[[Metaethics sequence]]
 
*[[Ethical injunction]]
 
*[[Ethical injunction]]

Latest revision as of 07:40, 9 September 2015

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Consequentialism is the ethical theory that people should choose their actions based on the outcomes they expect will result. 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.