Why Is Consequentialism Morally Wrong

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Consequentialism is based on two principles: ¥ Whether an act is right or wrong depends only on the results of that act ¥ The more good consequences an act produces, the better or more right that act It gives us this guidance when faced with a moral dilemma: ¥ A person should choose the action that maximizes good consequences And it gives this general guidance on how to live: People should live so as to maximize good consequences ¥ for example, according to rule consequentialism we consider lying to be wrong because we know that in general lying produces bad consequences. Results-based ethics produces this important conclusion for ethical thinking: ¥ No type of act is inherently wrong - not even murder - it depends on the result …show more content…

This argument might surprise those who think of consequentialism as counterintuitive, but in fact, consequentialists can explain many moral intuitions that trouble deontological theories. Moderate deontologists, for example, often judge that it is morally wrong to kill one person to save five but not morally wrong to kill one person to save a million. They never specify the line between what is morally wrong and what is not morally wrong, and it is hard to imagine any non-arbitrary way for deontologists to justify a cutoff point. In contrast, consequentialists can simply say that the line belongs wherever the benefits outweigh the costs (including any bad side effects). Similarly, when two promises conflict, it often seems clear which one we should keep, and that intuition can often be explained by the amount of harm that would be caused by breaking each promise. In contrast, deontologists are hard pressed to explain which promise is overriding if the reason to keep each promise is simply that it was made (Sinnott-Armstrong 2009). If consequentialists can better explain more common moral intuitions, then consequentialism might have more explanatory coherence overall, despite being counterintuitive in some cases. (Compare Sidgwick 1907, Book IV, Chap. III; and Sverdlik 2011.) And even if act consequentialists cannot argue in this way, it still might work for rule consequentialists (such as Hooker

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