Notes on Consequentialism

Notes on Consequentialism - Robichaud 1...

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Unformatted text preview: Robichaud 1 Consequentialism (constructed in part from material found in Dan Brock’s “Utilitarianism”, William Shaw’s “The Consequentialist Perspective”, and Kymlicka’s “Utilitarianism”) 1. Act Consequentialism: An action is morally right if and only if it produces at least as much overall good as any alternative action available to the agent, morally wrong if it does not. Breakdown “An action…” Act consequentialism gives us criteria for evaluating actions , not agents. In particular, it tells us nothing about the moral responsibility of agents. A person might be morally blameworthy for performing the right action, and a person might be morally praiseworthy for performing the wrong action. “…is morally right…” An account of The Right is built up from an account of The Good. The various versions of consequentialism provide stories about what the good consequences are, and then they claim that the right action to perform in any instance is the one that maximizes these good consequences. As Kymlicka points out, there are different ways to defend and explain moral rightness in terms of this sort of maximization principle. “…if and only if…” These are the necessary and sufficient conditions for an action to be right. “If and only if” is synonymous with “just in case.” “…it produces…” Both the close and the remote effects of an action are taken into account. This has led to some epistemological worries about the view. Things are further complicated when the consequences involve the creation of more sentient beings. (Parfit’s “repugnant conclu- sion.”) And many think that the value of the act itself should be included in the calcula- tion....
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This note was uploaded on 03/14/2012 for the course GEN-ED ER24 taught by Professor Davidwikler during the Spring '11 term at Harvard.

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Notes on Consequentialism - Robichaud 1...

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