What Is Consequentialism?

The greatest happiness of the greatest number is the foundation of morals and legislation.

- Jeremy Bentham

Podcast of the Day

Is consequentialism in ethics a form of moral opportunism? Is torture always wrong? What about punishing the innocent? Philip Pettit, who recently gave the 2011 Uehiro Lectures on 'Robustly Demanding Values', discusses some common criticisms of consequentialism in conversation with Nigel Warburton in this episode of the Philosophy Bites podcast

Listen to Philip Pettit on Consequentialism

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Short Article of the Day

...Upon reflection, it starts to seem as though everything we do is in order to bring about some consequence. What does it mean to bring about a consequence? Here is one way to look at it: Bringing about a consequence is a way of changing the world, in a small or a large way. I want the world to be thus-and-so, but it’s not currently thus-and-so, so I will perform this action to make it thus-and-so.

The point is that we often, maybe always, do things to bring about certain consequences. Why would you do anything if you didn’t think it was going to have some result?...

Continue reading the 1000 Word Philosophy article: Introduction to Consequentialism by Shane Gronholz

Further Reading

Consequentialism is the view that morality is all about producing the right kinds of overall consequences. Here the phrase “overall consequences” of an action means everything the action brings about, including the action itself. For example, if you think that the whole point of morality is (a) to spread happiness and relieve suffering, or (b) to create as much freedom as possible in the world, or (c) to promote the survival of our species, then you accept consequentialism. Although those three views disagree about which kinds of consequences matter, they agree that consequences are all that matters...

Continue reading the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy article on Consequentialism by William Haines

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