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Can anyone even tell me the problem with consequentialism?

#1Faust_8Posted 9/17/2013 8:13:29 PM
Consequentialism (I may have just made that word up) is simply the morality that something is moral if it benefits more than it harms, and is immoral if it harms more than it benefits. I'm sure it probably has another name.

Liberals and nonbelievers almost always think this way, whereas conservatives and religious usually don't. With the latter, it's an all or nothing approach--there are rules, you can't break them. Even when they can't prove the rule exists in the first place, or even why it should.

So to those who don't think in consequential terms, WHY is it a bad thing if you do?

Besides, don't you already do that anyway? Even if you do think of things in a black-and-white rules are rules way about morality (on at least some issues), aren't your justifications for doing so based upon the consequences of breaking those rules? It's the only way TO justify why a rule is in place; otherwise it's just blindly obeying a rule without even knowing why.
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#2JonWood007Posted 9/17/2013 8:51:49 PM(edited)
Consequentialism (I may have just made that word up) is simply the morality that something is moral if it benefits more than it harms, and is immoral if it harms more than it benefits. I'm sure it probably has another name.


Consequentialism is basically a branch of moral philosophy that bases morality somehow on consequences. You're thinking of utilitarianism, which is a consequentialist theory.

Liberals and nonbelievers almost always think this way, whereas conservatives and religious usually don't. With the latter, it's an all or nothing approach--there are rules, you can't break them. Even when they can't prove the rule exists in the first place, or even why it should.


Eh, I know where you're getting this idea from, but I think there's room for liberals and nonbelievers to rely on that way of thinking too.....especially for how much they talk of human rights, which philosophically comes off more toward the nonconsequentialist side of things, since they're normally seen as "god given" or "self evident." You can justify them via consequentialism though if you emphasize the positive results of such views. Even social contract theory is more of a principle based system....what if the social contract people agree to is morally flawed, for example? After all, people will agree to work for 50 cents an hour in horrid conditions if pressured to. Still, it's a useful tool.

So I guess am not really a person youre actually aiming this question at. When I use nonconsequential forms of philosophy, I do so because I see consequential results in the long term, or because I see them as a useful conceptual tool. Honestly, if anyone is interested, I actually consider my view closest to rule utilitarianism. I like to have rules that come to the best conclusions possible, and I think that a lot of nonconsequentialist views like the idea of rights can accomplish this.

Anyway, that's my more secular worldview.

From a religious worldview, it comes down to God being the source of goodness, and what he says goes, period. It's not up to them to question the moral worth of the rule, because the source of all goodness commanded it and it's not up to them to question.

It's a very flawed worldview, one I've beaten to death in many debates. The premises are ill formed and not well thought out. There's a lot of incoherent reasoning and flat out logical fallacies used to justify it. It only works when you don't think about it hard enough.
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#3OrangeWizardPosted 9/17/2013 9:30:45 PM
one I've beaten to death in many debates.


My, aren't we patting ourselves on the back today?
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#4mrplainswalkerPosted 9/20/2013 2:00:13 PM
I've seen reasonable concerns with utilitarianism. But it's still a hell of a lot better than following seemingly arbitrary commands without thought.
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#5JonWood007Posted 9/20/2013 4:02:02 PM
mrplainswalker posted...
I've seen reasonable concerns with utilitarianism. But it's still a hell of a lot better than following seemingly arbitrary commands without thought.


No moral system's perfect. Some are better than others though.
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